War Horse

  • 2012-01-25
  • By Laurence Boyce

Director: Steven Spielberg

If a film about a horse fighting in World War I sounds more than a little improbable, let’s not forget that Steven Spielberg has also managed to convince people that a small wrinkled alien can help a bike to fly, that dinosaurs can be brought back to life and – in the case of “Saving Private Ryan” – that Vin Diesel can actually act. Indeed, based on an incredibly successful stage play and with a script co-written by Richard ‘Love Actually’ Curtis, it seems that “War Horse” has all the tools to be a blockbuster.

Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine) is a young lad growing up in the South of England working at his parents’ farm. Amidst struggles with debt, the Narracotts come into possession of a beautiful horse that Albert quickly christens Joey. A special bond develops between Albert and Joey, and soon Joey is an important part of the working farm. But with war looming and debt mounting, Albert’s father sells Joey to the army to be part of the cavalry. We follow Joey’s fortunes through the war as he comes into contact with an array of people on both sides. But will he ever see Albert again? The fortunes of war mean they may be closer to each other than they think.

This is slick, melodramatic and manipulative as hell. Yet, thanks to the impressive technical skill from all involved, you can’t help but be swept along. Whilst the narrative is somewhat fractured (it’s basically a film of two halves), it manages to hold your interest throughout and there are some impressive set pieces (including a tense moment in which Joey becomes tangled up in barbed wire in the trenches). The acting is top notch – with the likes of Peter Mullan, Emily Watson and many more renowned British actors all bringing their best – and Joey is impressively handled.
The premise of “War Horse” may sound like complete nonsense. But there’s no denying that the film is extremely entertaining nonsense that has Spielberg once again creating a modern fairy tale.


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