What movie starts off a bit slow and gentle, has the audience on the edge of their seats in the middle, and touches their heart in the end? What movie shows perfectly placed foreshadowing, beautiful acting, and courage shining ever so brilliantly on the screen?
Let me enlighten you: A movie directed by Steven Spielberg.
Based on a children’s novel by Michael Morpurgo, War Horse is a historical film set in the time of World War I. A boy named Albert raises a foal he named Joey, and they form a heart-felt friendship. Through a series of unfortunate circumstances, Joey is sold to the army, falling into different hands on both sides of the war. Both horse and boy are tried by the vengeance of warfare, moved by compassion, and set on an extraordinary journey of faith, courage, hope, and survival. Joey ends up in the no man’s land, touching both the French and British soldiers’ hearts.
As expected, Spielberg does his usual remarkable job on directing War Horse, but what I really love is that he actually shows, not tells, if I may. The scenery was amazing and the shots were beautiful, but moreover, everything in War Horse is significant. Underneath, there is a much deeper meaning, and every character seen through Joey’s eyes is so well-rounded and the audience actually comes to care about the fates of these people.
As for the pacing, War Horse took its time to dive into the action, but once the first battle took place, I was gripped and immersed in the story. I had never been so scared about whether a character’s going to die or not to the point that I almost cried. I was literally on my mom’s lap, chewing my fingernails and begging, “Please don’t die, Joey, please don’t die!”
War Horse is rated PG-13 for intense battle scenes, but even though it shows the rawboned grit and despair of the soldiers, it isn’t gory. Courage was the primary theme of War Horse. I was touched by the characters’ bravery, from the soldiers on both sides to the man and his granddaughter. Newcomer Jeremy Irvine was brilliant as Albert, and, of course, the rest of the cast was outstanding.
Not everyone will enjoy War Horse. The foundations of the plot are similar to “Black Beauty.” The majority of the audience at the screening were adults, but even though I enjoyed it, I think many of my peers would rather see Spielberg’s animated The Adventures of Tintin. For those of you who do want to see War Horse, be prepared for a poignant story of friendship and courage this Christmas. Ages 12+