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I have many film DVD collections, but most of them just are watched once or twice. However the DVD of War Horse is an exceptional.
War Horse is a film directed by Steven Spielberg in 2011. The film was nominated for several awards including two Golden Globes and five BAFTAs in 2012. The film was an adaptation of a children's novel of same name by a British author Michael Morpurgo.
The story started in 1912 in Devon, England. A country boy named Albert watched a young horse with its mother. One day at an auction Albert's father Ted bought the horse for his farm. However the horse was not suitable enough to be a plough horse. Albert's mother Rose was very angry with the buy. To keep the horse in the family became the priority of Albert's life, and he gave the horse a name as Joey. After a few times training Joey seemed master the skills to plough field. However the World War I suddenly happened. Joey and Albert faced separation. What will happen after it? Will they see each other again? You will find the answer after watching the film.
Albert Narracott was played by Jeremy Irvine, who is an English stage and screen actor. It was his first film playing as a leading character.
Rose Narracott was played by Emily Watson, who is an English actress and has won a number awards for acting throughout her career. In the film of War Horse her role was Albert's mother.
Ted Narracott was played by Peter Mullan, who is a Scottish actor and a filmmaker. He has played in Harry Potter series. In the film of War Horse his role was Albert's father.
The DVD of War Horse lasts about 140 minutes. The language is English. It has five languages( Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish and Icelandic) for subtitles. The bonus features is about the real war horse in the history. Currently it is sold on Amazon website for just £5 with free delivery. It's also available on other retailers and the prices are similar.
The film of War Horse is one of the best films I have seen. It has a good story and good acting. It tells a story during a cruel world war I, but it shows you how beautiful the love between human beings and animals. Also you can feel the deep love and friendship. No matter which background you are from you can always find one to inspire you. It's a such touching film. Every time when I watch it I feel touched. It's a real masterpiece and I highly recommend it.
Nominated for six Academy Awards, Steven Spielberg's War Horse is a moving tale of devotion between a young man and his horse.
When Ted Narracott (Peter Mullan) offers an absurd amount out of pride for a young horse at auction, upon bringing him home, Albert (Jeremy Irvine) immediately grows attached and trains the horse, named Joey, up to plough the farm.
But when war breaks out, Albert and Joey are separated, Albert vowing to find Joey and subsequently volunteers to the front line in order to be reunited with his lost horse.
Whilst the plot is serious and moving, the stern tone is uplifted by lighthearted and funny moments, especially the charismatic goose and later characters that Joey encounters. This is definitely one of those movies that one animal brings people together and makes the movie complete, like Hachi: A Dogs Tale.
Throughout, you admire the obedience of the horses and their character, how they portray emotions and just how 'human' they seem to be. The relationship that one animal can have with a range of different characters and how they change their life is deeply moving
As the plot builds up and the climax is reached, there is a real ultimatum towards the end but is satisfyingly fulfilling and ends up on a positive note.
Beautifully directed and shot, the contrast of set, colour, light and dark really make many of the scenes dramatic and effective.
Jeremy Irvine- Albert
Peter Mullan- Ted
Emily Watson- Rose
Also stars Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Marsan and David Kross.
New star Jeremy Irvine manages to pull at our heartstrings and shines bright amongst veterans Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch. The cast ensemble is good and they manage not to overshadow each other and bring focus to the horse.
'War Horse' is a beautifully moving and captivating tale even at over two hours long. The emotional dynamic and the relationship is the focal point and is brought out exceedingly well. But what this movie does it to uplift the moments of darkness and shed light and hope, ending in a satisfactory manner.
Star - Steven Spielberg
Genre - Drama
Certificate - 12a
Run Time - 146 minutes
County - USA
Awards - Nominated for 6 Oscars
Amazon - £3.00 per night@blockbusters
Blockbusters - £7.00 DVD (£10.99 Blue Ray)
So, 'Warhorse', Steven Spielberg's latest big screen effort, based on the stage play and the 1982 children's book of the same name by writer Michael Morpurgo, looking at the significant role of horses in the military back in World War One, the British sending a mind boggling one million to the front with only an estimated 66,000 returning, the rest killed in action or ending up on the French dinner plate. A colossal 10 million horses were involved on all sides come November 11th, 1918, one for each man lost there.
The novel tells the fictional adventures of a heroic horse called Joey, recruited for both sides in the process, a stallion called Finders Key the star who plays Joey although the colt had to split his equity rates with 13 other horses that also played Joey. Finders Key is a proper movie star in his own right and also played Sea Biscuit, that the last horse movie to be nominated for an Oscar and similarly under rewarded as War Horse. 2012 also saw Spielberg get Oscar nominated for 'The Adventures of Tin Tin', and, like 2006, when he also had two films up for the coveted Golden Statue, Munich and The War of the Worlds remake, he came up empty. This years two efforts are the first time Steven Spielberg has experimented in digital film techniques, although claiming there are just three short scenes of CGI in War Horse, shot to protect the horses in the making of the film, a sort of subtle statement to somehow protect his integrity. But he did Oscar back in 1994 at his brilliant best when he had his first double entry in the Oscars with Jurassic Park and the brilliant Schindlers List, winning ten Oscars between them. Spielberg has won the coveted Best Directing Oscar twice from his impressive six nominations in that category.
Jeremy Irvine ... Albert Narracott
Peter Mullan ... Ted Narracott
Emily Watson ... Rose Narracott
Niels Arestrup ... Grandfather
David Thewlis ... Lyons
Celine Buckens as Emilie
Tom Hiddleston ... Capt. James Nicholls
Benedict Cumberbatch ... Maj. Jamie Stewart
Patrick Kennedy ... Lt. Charlie Waverly
Leonard Carow ... Pvt. Michael Schröder
David Kross ... Pvt. Günther Schröder
Matt Milne ... Andrew Easton
Eddie Marsan ... Sgt. Fry
Young Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine) and his boozy old man (Peter Mullan) have gone to market to buy a sturdy plough horse for their Devon farm high on the moors. But after getting involved in a macho bidding pride war with their obnoxious landlord Lyons (David Thewlis), who leases the farm to them, Dad ends up buying a 30 guinea Bay horse thoroughbred, way over there budget and certainly not suited to ploughing.
Back home dad gets a telling off from younger wife Rosie (Emily Watson) and the farm could be lost because of the purchase. But Albert pleads with his sobered up old man to keep the horse and promises to break it in ready for turning over the field as stubborn as pop that must produce a crop to pay the rent. When word gets out about the plucky horse the village gathers around the field as the kid tries to get the blade to dig into the rocky ground, only to fall flat on his face. But there's a bond between the two and eventually the horse achieves the impossible and ploughs the field through a long night, much to the annoyance of the watching on Lyons, who wants the Narracott's to fail so he can claim back the farm and tenancy.
But war is upon us and dad needs the money to pay the rent after a storm washes out their crop, so he sells Joey at the market to the army, much to the pain of his son. 30 guineas is agreed and the horse led away by likeable army officer Capt. James Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston), underage Albert demanding to be sign up for the army there and then to be with his beloved horse. But it's no deal and Capt. Nicholls and Joey soon in battle in lands afar, the two downed in a charge at an enemy encampment, Joey surviving and ending up in the German ranks, alongside another bigger black horse, Top Thorn, that he has befriended on the battlefield, no longer ridden by the now defeated unit leader Major. Jamie Stewart (Benedict Cumberbatch). Privates Michael Schröder (Leonard Carow) and Günther Schröder (David Kross) are now the keepers of Joey and Top Thorn in the chaos of war.
By now Albert is of age and muddy and terrified deep in the British trenches alongside his best mate Andrew (Matt Milne) from their home Devon village, keeping local men together the best way to get them to go to war back then. But trench war is terrible and they have to go over the top, a Saving Private Ryan style slaughter flowing in the rain of shells and bullets. But amongst the chaos of the war sweeps a horse, constantly making a bid for freedom from the noise and that chaos, but this no ordinary horse. The question now is will either of them survive the war to be together again, both unaware of each fete.
I'm afraid to say my favorite director is losing his touch and the magic just wasn't there in a rather bloated War Horse, dare I say a donkey and a rather dull Oscar chasing 146 minutes from the great man. The film didn't produce a wow moment like that flying bike did in E.T or the moment we first see the spaceship in Close Encounters and the whole film just became a drag over those two-and-a-half-hours. Ok, I'm not an animal lover and so didn't connect with the horse's plight amongst the terror of war and the comradeship with the other horse, and so no tears when demanded by the director.
It's too slow to get going and far too clean and pithy as the Narracott's farmhouse to be realistic, the melodramatic and relentless theme music the worse ever in a Spielberg movie. Even the Germans are likeably as they speak perfect Oxbridge - English amongst the mud and death all around them in the trenches, in the way Jude Law going up against Ed Harris didn't really work in the equally sterilized Enemy of the Gates. Spielberg tried to paint his serene and innocent characters on a grim world that they wouldn't work in, simple as. The box-office is pretty revealing on that in that its $66 million budget is pretty low for such a director making an Oscar chasing movie and it made just $177m back, which seems a healthy return but once you deduct the marketing and promotion cost from the Dream Works Studio it probably was not considered a financial hit.
The acting is safely sanitized for a younger audience and Emily Watson (not Emma Watson from Harry P) must be rather affronted to play wifey to the 65-year-old haggard looking Harry Mullen character in the film. Heartthrob Jeremy Irvine plays the extremely polite and pious teen idol and its almost as if Spielberg believes British people really are their polite and decent stiff upper lip stereotype Americans believe we are, not a swear word in the film. That ambiguity took away too much for me. If you want me to pull for the hero then this was not the way to do it guys. I just wasn't emotionally involved enough to care for the horses plight. No one is alive from the Great War now and people don't really relate to it the way they once did. And what about all those soldiers killed, Steven? Can you make a serious 12a war movie? War Horse is more cartoon territory and perhaps the way to go if this was meant for kids. What we have here is an adult themed film made from a kid's book and that never works and maybe a bit of Tin Tin here in that cross over. I suspect Spielberg made a studio movie he didn't really want to make but there was nothing else around he fancied doing so went ahead with it anyway.
Imdb.com - 7.2/10.0 (57,345 votes)
Metacritc.com - 72 % critics' approval
Rottentomatos.com - 77 critic's approval
The Guardian - 'War Horse is a pre-packaged brand, rather than a movie'.
Film4 - 'If it doesn't quite manage to tap the well of emotion that this type of film aims to access, it's because of problems inherent to the basic pitch, rather than the execution'.
The Times - '"How Green Was My Valley, How Smart Was My Horse."
The New Yorker - 'We never ask why the production is devoted to an animal while ten million men are dying, but when Spielberg does the story realistically, it seems trivial, even a little daft.
Movie.com - 'What is a simple, World War I-era tale of a boy and his horse on the page and stage becomes bloated in Spielberg & Co.'s hands'.
This review for War Horse is about the film version, it has been adapted from a book and a play and I cannot comment on the DVD or bonus features of the DVD as we rented it from Blockbuster and they only send the main film out. The film was released at the end of 2011 and we have just watched it. The cast include Jeremy Irvine and David Thewliss. From the brief snippets that I had heard about the story, I felt as though the story would be very predictable, boy loves horse, horse goes to war, boy and horse reunite. I also perceived that this would be heavily about the boy and the war but I was very wrong. The main character in this film is very definitely Joey, the horse! The main vein of the story follows him and what happens to him. I guess I just didn't expect the main character to be a non-speaking animal but strangely, it kind of worked. The film is over two hours long and in places it did feel as though the story laboured slightly (but only slightly).
Albert (Jeremy Irvine) is a young boy who befriends a horse (Joey). His drunken, loveable and somewhat daft father goes to market to buy a shire horse and comes back with thoroughbred Joey who isn't fit for doing farm work. In order to be able to pay their rent, they have to plough a field and the profit from the crops will go to their landlord. Albert works very hard to get Joey to become a work horse and they end up having a very good relationship. Sadly, the crops fail and Joey is sold to the army to become a war horse. Albert is devastated but the officer who buys Joey promises to keep him safe. The story then leaves Albert and focuses on Joey and various people he meets along his journey. Will he and Albert ever be reunited? I won't spoil it for you.
I think because of the pre-conceptions I had about the film, I was surprised when we left Albert and his story for a long piece of the film. However, I guess if I had realised the horse and his story was the main focus then perhaps I wouldn't have felt as though the story jumped about so much. Having read up on the background to War Horse a little more, I feel I understand the narrative slightly better. The main character of the book is the horse, the play obviously has more dialogue in it for other people and the film version has become a mash-up of both of these. I can see how this would work really well on stage and with lots of different scenes. After Joey and Albert leave each other, we see Joey in different scenarios with different people, all of whom become attached to him. It is hard to have any sort of emotional attachment to any of the characters as they are only in the film for short bursts of time. Ultimately, the only human I could root for was Albert and I obviously wanted Joey to make it to the end of the film too.
The war aspect in some respects didn't feel real. Although directed by Steven Spielberg, parts of it DID have the nitty gritty of war as in Saving Private Ryan or similar. Other parts felt as though they were quite low budget BBC dramas, particularly after the battle of the Somme in the German trenches. I'm not sure why it felt like that, perhaps it was the way in which it was filmed? I'm not sure but it didn't feel as hard-hitting as it could have done. The battle scenes were good and fairly realistic but I guess although we saw some of the horrors of war, it felt as though parts had been edited so that the film became a bit more family friendly and a bit less gruesome than other war films. In saying that though, the bits which involved seeing how the horses had to work were very realistic and heart breaking in some parts. I'm not sure if it was because I'd become very attached to the horse and less so to the people? I'm not sure but parts of the 'war' element just didn't sit right with me.
In my opinion, the way in which some of the people treated the horse and dealt with situations with the horse felt slightly sensationalised which I suppose is true of many Hollywood blockbusters but I did feel these scenes in particular took away some of the realism of the film.
I liked the story, I thought the acting was great and the horses were absolutely amazing, I know some was done with CGI but the vast majority must have been filmed with real horses which is brilliant as they were very realistic and very clever animals. The sets and the props were really good too, with the exception of some of the trench scenes. I think they just looked too clean or something just wasn't quite right for me.
I enjoyed the film and even despite the length I didn't find myself bored at any points. I think understanding the perspective and the fact that the horse is the main character helped my understanding of the structure of the film, I almost wish I didn't have any pre-conceptions. Although slightly gritty at times, I did feel as though Disney had waved a bit of a magic wand over this film at times to make it both sad and happy and because of this I felt a bit let down so I will be dropping a star from the rating. I felt as though we were being shielded from some of the more ugly truths of war. The film is a 12A and I can understand why it is not rated as a 15 like Saving Private Ryan. This is a nice story about a horse but for me, I wanted more of the war story than the horse story so was left feeling a little bit let down. However there are many war films out there, just none involving horses like this so I guess overall it provided a new perspective, just one I wasn't familiar waith. Overall though it was a good film and I would recommend it to be watched.
War Horse is a 2011 film directed by Steven Spielberg and is based on a children's book by Michael Morpurgo. The film was nominated for several awards including two Golden Globes and several BAFTAs. As @ the time of writing (September 2012), you can purchase the film on DVD from Amazon (www.amazon.co.uk) for around £8 with free postage.
There was only one additional feature on the disc that I had, which was a sort of 'making of' mini-documentary showing some of the actors being filmed in assorted scenes throughout the film. I didn't watch all of this feature, but the section I did watch had a little background information on some of the filming tricks that took place throughout the film, which I found quite interesting.
I also enjoyed learning some of the tricks that were used in the filming of the movie that created some of the battle scenes and found this really interesting too. Some of the set 'secrets' were shared during this feature too, such as the set creation for the Narracott's farm and this was pleasant to watch, particularly as the surrounding area is so beautiful, with stunning scenery. I especially enjoyed learning of the 'village' scenes that were filmed in the movie and how the crew had found the perfect location in this respect.
I would not recommend watching this bonus feature before watching the film, as some of the secrets and findings would easily spoil some of the film's plot.
* THE STORY *
The beginning of the film shows a young boy, Albert Narracott, witness the birth of a young colt and he follows its progress over the coming months. This foal eventually grows into a young horse and is sent to auction to be sold off. Albert's father Ted, who is looking for a farm horse for work on his farm, ends up bidding higher and higher sums of money for the horse at the auction, bidding against his cruel landlord out of spite, his pride taking over from financial worries and cautious warnings from friends that fall on deaf ears.
He eventually purchases the horse and returns home with it to face the wrath of his wife Rose, who is worried at the sum of money paid for this unimpressive beast that doesn't appear to be suitable for work on their farm. Albert, on the other hand, is delighted to have the horse in his care and makes a promise to his parents that he will work on the horse and train him, with the aim of proving that he is capable of the tasks that await him.
Albert names his horse Joey, and the strength of the bond between animal and owner is unmistakeable as their trust in each other blossoms, before eventually branching into full-blown companionship.
Just as Joey proves his worth to Albert's parents, the unmistakeable threat of war breaks out and the pair must be separated, without knowing when - or if - they will ever cross paths again. A heartbroken Albert prepares Joey for his upcoming battles, tying an important marker of courage to his bridle, whispering tentatively in his ear as he is taken from his clutches.........
What awaits Joey in the throes of war? Will he ever be reunited with the doting Albert?
And most importantly, can anyone ever really trust an unimpressive farm horse to do what its told..?
* MY OPINION *
War Horse is one of the best films I have watched in a long, long time, and there are several reasons why. Firstly, the acting was excellent - bordering on impeccable, actually - with credit certainly due to Jeremy Irvine, who plays the young Albert 'Albie' Narracott, delivering a faultless performance throughout the film. In particular, conveying emotion seemed effortless to this actor and he did an incredible job at reaching out to the audience and invoking our sympathy. Similarly, feelings of compassion were expertly piqued from very early on in the film, creating a solid foundation for the viewer upon which the remainder of the story could be laid - a crucial point in any film with such an engrossing plot, being a vital accompaniment to later scenes that would have perhaps lacked some of their stunning empathy if this had felt hollow....... Thankfully, it didn't.
Other performances were notable too, and in particular Albert's parents, played by Peter Mullan (who deserves credit for his excellent Devonshire accent, despite his natural Glaswegian tongue) and Emily Watson were excellent in their respective roles, allowing emotive scenes to grasp the audience, leaving us feeling completely sympathetic towards the couples' plight.
Several of the actors in the film are very young, and credit is due to each and every one of these youngsters, who delivered their performance with both credibility and grace. In particular, the young actress who plays the French girl, Emily, a character who appears in the middle part of the film, was outstanding in her role and I felt moved at her story - and her performance - on more than one occasion throughout the film.
At no time during watching did I feel that ANY of the actors or actresses was giving anything less than one hundred percent dedication to their respective characters and this was evident as the scenes unfolded before me. I could quite easily write all day about each of the performances in the film, such was the high impact delivered to me as the viewer, but there are other aspects of the film that struck a chord too.... So, reluctantly, I must leave it there.
The story of War Horse was not difficult to understand or grasp, even though I knew nothing of what it was about prior to watching. I have never read the book, so you won't find any comparisons between it and the film in this review. What I would say however, is that I feel compelled to purchase the book as I was so moved by the film and even though I only rented the movie to watch, I purchased my own copy of the DVD the following day, mainly because the story stayed with me after watching and I couldn't get the image of Joey out of my head. This is a clear-cut sign of a memorable movie..... by my standards, at least.
The story takes fold over several years, so the audience is essentially 'following' Joey the horse through his travels and trials, and so the film is Joey's life story, seen through his eyes, as such. Whilst this might sound unappealing, particularly to anyone who is not a fan of horses or animals, there is much MUCH more backdrop to the story than this. The film is set during the first World War, and like it or not, these types of stories and journeys usually always make for interesting viewing. War Horse is no different, and the war scenes were handled beautifully, conveying their terrible events to the audience with complete believability, thanks to these horrendously accurate atmospheric scenes.
This offered a sharp contrast to some of the other parts of the film that were shot in assorted farms and countryside, and in particular those that were following young Albert and his time spent with Joey nearer the start of the film. These scenes were beautifully filmed against the stunning Devonshire landscapes, rolling hills and bright meadows offering an atmospheric delight for viewers to feast upon. There was no element of the film's assorted locations or sets that felt at all lacking, and they provided a wonderful backdrop to the film throughout, be it peaceful rural harmony or the starkness of a war-torn 'No Man's Land' battlefield, each was completely believable and tied beautifully with the accompanying on-screen events.
I am a huge animal lover anyway, and I love horses, so it wasn't difficult for me to muster feelings of empathy towards poor Joey as he faced struggle after struggle, nor was there difficulty in achieving feelings of joy or happiness as I witnessed his successes and achievements. I thought it delightful to witness Joey befriending a second horse during the film, a large black horse called Topthorn, who Joey becomes very attached to. I know there is a lot of criticism surrounding War Horse as a film, slating it as being too 'Schmaltzy' but I challenge any viewer to witness the obvious mutual trust and friendship between this pair of impressive beasts, and the eventual outcome of this partnership, and not have a lump in the throat or a tear in the eye......... I doubt it can be done.
Whilst I am on the subject of schmaltz, I have to say I have read review after review of this film and whilst many of them are praising the film for the same reasons I am, there are just as many reviews damning it, accusing it of being overly 'cheesy' and full of schmaltz. It is true to say that some of the main 'threads' in the storyline felt quite 'pumped up' for the film - probably more so than in the actual book - but isn't this what makes a blockbusting film so watchable on screen? The film just wouldn't have had the same impact, if some of the 'friendship' scenes and horsey scenes had been hushed down and this is what added to the adventure and drama of the film. Yes, it WAS sensationally dramatic in parts, but to be fair there was a World War taking place, and if that is not a drama-filled event, then I'm not sure what is! From my own perspective, I found I didn't need to 'quieten' my cynical subconscious when watching the film... for once, it was deathly silent, being totally engrossed in the captivating events on-screen.
There were several moments throughout the film that brought a tear to my eye, although to be fair my insides are made of a substance akin to marshmallow, and it takes very little - where animals are concerned, in particular - to invoke a teary eye or a trembling lip. Indeed, some of the scenes early on in the film, that were 'feel-good' scenes for the most part had me in buckets of tears. I would point out however, that this is probably not the sort of reaction that MOST people would experience when watching the film, instead likely waiting until the mind-blowing closing scenes to shed a solitary tear of compassion.
I do feel it necessary to caution those viewers who are sensitive to scenes showing animal abuse or neglect. There is one scene about half way through the movie that made for VERY uncomfortable viewing on my part, and I almost had to leave the room or skip the film on. In the end, I sufficed with looking away and thankfully these scenes were mercifully short, but please be aware that they are there, nevertheless, as I found them terribly upsetting, causing several tears to roll down my cheeks.
I don't want to put anyone off from watching the film for themselves - quite the opposite is true and I urge you to rent or borrow a copy of the film immediately, for I am quite sure that the majority of viewers will be as thrilled with the film as I was.
The film explores many themes, each being subtly repetitive throughout the film. The main ones are friendship and trust, with the latter being at the plot's core throughout the film. This created a wonderfully sentimental thread throughout the whole film that was a real joy to witness.
The main - and most important - theme to my mind, however, is loyalty - and again, this was evident at many, many junctures in the story's various threads. It felt as though it was being subtly whispered to the viewer over and over and I liked the way that this theme was explored by many of the assorted characters in varying points throughout the film. I particularly liked the way this thread was demonstrated through the plotlines with humans and horses together. This little trick being evident throughout various points in the film created a beautiful heart-warming conclusion that invoked incredible empathy from the viewer as the final scenes appeared on-screen.... The result being a heart-warming culmination of emotions, finally peaked to their fullest capacity. Simply astounding.
I'm not sure what makes a film an 'Epic.' I considered doing a quick online search to see what terms surround the word online, but instead I decided to give my own theories, and here they are... Firstly, an Epic film should be quite long, certainly longer than the standard two hours. Secondly, an Epic film should contain a likeable hero that really strikes a chord with the viewing audience. Thirdly, an Epic film has to be memorable, preferably enough that it stays with the viewer for a long time after watching. The fourth - and final - criteria that, to my mind, an epic film should meet is that it is 'different' or at least there is something very different about its story or it's characters.
It is no coincidence that War Horse completely - and effortlessly - ticks each and every one of these boxes.
I was really excited to see this film when it came out in the cinema but ended up missing it because of work commitments. I decided instead to buy it when it came out on DVD and have watched it a few times since.
Not only did I hear really good things about it when it was released but I was keen to see it because I love Michael Morpurgo's writing (author of the book, same name). I haven't actually read 'War Horse' but have read a few of his other books and really love the way in which he is about to weave a story through history.
The film version of the book was released in 2011 and is probably best described as a war drama. It was directed by Steven Spielberg and has a pretty spellbinding cast. It was a massive box office success and has since been nominated for six Academy Awards, two Golden Globes and five BAFTAS...couldn't possibly be bad, could it?
The film begins in 1912, before the start of the first world war. Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine) is a teenager from Devon, he witnesses the birth of a foal and then the development of the young horse as it grows up. His father, Ted (Peter Mullan), ends up buying the horse at an auction, much to the dismay of his mother Rose (Emily Watson). The family need a horse than can plough, which the thoroughbred is not built for. Put under pressure by the landlord (David Thewlis) to pay rent, Albert and his father attempt to train the horse who has been dubbed Joey. The horse struggles and attracts a large audience from the local town, who come to mock the ambitious endeavour. Eventually though Albert manages to coax Joey into ploughing and they plant a field of turnips in order to make rent.
However, the turnip crop is ruined by heavy rainfall and in order to make rent Albert's father sells the horse to a young cavalry officer. He ties his pennant from the war he fought in to Joey's bridle and the family sadly wave him off. Joey is trained for military operations and develops an attachment to a fellow military horse, Topthorn. They are deployed in France and are used in a now obsolete cavalry charge against the German defence who are reinforced by machine guns. The men are killed and the German soldiers capture the two horses.
A young German soldier (Leonard Carow) convinces his superiors to use the horses to pull ambulance wagons. In order to avoid his brother being sent to battle, the young soldier leaves on horseback with him. They plan to ride to Italy but when hiding overnight in a windmill they are discovered by German soldiers and ultimately executed by a firing squad.
The horses are discovered by an orphaned French girl called Emilie (Celine Buckens) who lives with her grandfather (Niels Arestrup). German soldiers come to confiscate food and supplies form the property but Emilie hides the horses and they are not discovered. Emilie suffers from a disease that makes her bones fragile and is told she is not allowed to ride horses. However, her grandfather permits her to ride Joey for her birthday but she rides the horse into the group of German soldiers who ransacked the farm. They take the two horses, though her grandfather keeps the pennant.
Joey and Topthorn are made to pull German heavy artillery. They are helped by a kind horse loving German soldier (Nicolas Bro) who tries to keep them alive as best he can. After years of hard service Topthorn eventually succumbs to exhaustion and sadly dies. Joey bolts in fear and runs into no-man's land where he entangles himself in barbed wire. Both British and German soldiers spot Joey and two brave soldiers from opposing sides decide to free the horse. They flip a coin to decide who should have the horse and the British soldier wins
Meanwhile Albert has been serving in the army. During a gas bomb explosion he has been temporarily blinded. While recuperating in a medical camp he hears of the miracle horse and that he is going to be put down because of his injuries. I won't spoil the ending for you but there are a few twists and turns which make you doubt whether Albert and Joey will ever be fully reunited.
The film is very beautifully shot and with a real sense of reverence for the era in which it is set. The costume and sets have a very authentic feel, which is hard to achieve with so many different areas in which to film. The acting also feels true to the age in which the film is set and the overall feel is of a very realistic historical picture.
I personally love war films and when they are executed as elegantly as this film has been it is a joy to watch. There is never a sense that any of the elements are incongruous with the setting and era and the authentic feel has to be one of the most striking elements about it. I also love that they have tried as much as possible to keep is low key and with minimal special effects. The beautiful and barren landscapes provides enough of a backdrop to carry the film through and where special effects have been used it feels wholly relevant and fits well with the film.
I have to say I'm not a massive fan of horses, having has a scuffle with one at a very young age and losing my favourite bobble hat. Since then a deep seated hate for horses has developed over the years. I worried that seeing this film I would not feel remotely sympathetic to the plight of the animal because of my dislike. However, I was absolutely engrossed in the storyline and was constantly willing Joey to survive and to find Albert again. I think what is perfectly captured in this film is the majesty and grace of these large animals. I just wouldn't want to get up close to one...
The acting is really superb in this film, and I love that they haven't tried to create an ensemble cast of well known actors. Instead they have used a great selection of actors who help to make this a truly excellent and enjoyable film to watch. I like that there aren't very many people I recognise instantly, because the story is about the unsung and unknown heroes of a futile and horrific war. The casting seems totally appropriate and manages to carry the film and propel it towards greatness.
What I really like most about it is that it tells an interesting and never before explored perspective of the first world war. Little is really known about the way in which animals were used for military purposes during both of the major world wars. In fact, there are some pretty shocking facts out there if you are interested in finding out more information. I love that the story feels like something completely new and doesn't reflect anything I've heard before about the first world war. It is a unique story to tell and one which I think will resonate with old and young people alike, and especially anyone who has ever owned and loved a pet.
My reservations with this would be that because of the nature of the story you never really get to know any one set of characters long enough to form an audience relationship with them. Obviously you care about the horse, and to some extent you develop this want to have him reunited with Joey, but with so many other characters you can sometimes lose track of who you are rooting for. I would also add that there are some pretty harrowing scenes in this film and though the book is aimed at 9-12 I would advise parental discretion. For those animal lovers or sensitive children some of the scenes may be quite shocking and upsetting.
It is also pretty ridiculously long at 140 minutes. I always annoyed when a film is longer than about an hour and a half because I started to get restless. I do think the majority of the content of this film is needed to tell the story properly, though I did start to get my special place where I can no longer focus.
They are selling this DVD for £9.00 in HMV which is a pretty good price for a new release. I am pleased with my purchase and I'm sure I'll watch it many times more in the future. Though I won't be befriending any horses any time soon.
A visually impressive and wholly authentic film about the first world war.
Warhorse is a 2011 film directed by Steven Spielberg and tells the story of a horse during the First World War, the film won numerous awards.
I watched the film last night after wanting to do so for some time but after watching the film can only conclude that Steven Spielberg is having some kind of bizarre joke with the watching public and in reality the film is about something else because I find it hard to believe he had any hand in making such a terrible film. The film if you want to call it that was a contender for the worst I've watched for the last 10 years and tell the saccharine coated sentimental tale of a horse and his owner through the horrors of the Great War.
The story begins when Ted Narracote, a destitute Devon farmer buys a young horse whilst drunk at the local horse market. He overpays and when returning is told by his wife that he has ruined the farm, he outbid his landlord who demands his rent, Ted states that the horse will plough the previously useless lower field. Ted's son Albert has taken a fancy to the horse and persuades his mother that he can train the horse to take a plough, he manages to train the horse, plough the field and everything appears fine before the war is announced and the horse is sold to the army. Albert has named the horse Joey, who is a startlingly attractive brown horse with a star on his forehead and four white ankles, the horse, appears to be intelligent and has bonded with Albert.
Joey and his new owner Captain Greene is sent into battle, however, Greene is killed in the first attack and the horse taken by the Germans so the story progresses through slushy sentimental French grandfather and his pretty young grand-daughter, noble Germans, horrors of war and finally back to the frontline and a run through no-man's land.
What can you say about a film, which at every turn seems to desire to put layers of sugar coated clichéd scenes? The film is beautifully filmed that's true and the horses themselves are amazing but that doesn't take away from the paucity of material in the film. The film is so generic and ridiculous in its portrayal of the war through the eyes of a horse that you wanted something to happen which didn't end in a chance for a chap on either side of the war to do the decent thing. Everyone who meets the horse seems to be infected by a crazy desire to look after the horse and ignore everything else going on just to make sure the horse survived. If they don't do the decent thing and start to do something which wasn't noble, well the horse always managed to escape his reins and through his actions cause that person to have second thoughts. Seriously those reins how many times can a horse escape it's handlers during a film?
There are serious problems with this film, Albert immediately wants what's best for the horse this is before he's even seen the horse, there relationship is the core of the film and it feels like Albert and Joey are linked even before they meet. Joey's noble nature somehow inspires everyone he meets to become a better person, even when he's entangled in barbed wire his struggles inspire Brit and German to lay aside their differences just to release the horse in no man's land.
All very good and if you're an elderly woman wanting to watch a bit of sentimental tosh on a wet Wednesday afternoon snoozing in front of the fire then this film is the film for you, loads of lingering shots of the horse, lots of change of hearts and chances for the soldier in question to make the right decision. The film doesn't have a villain, doesn't really have a story beyond boy meets horse, horse goes to war and boy is reunited with horse.
For me the worst part of the film is the end, we are asked to believe that a set of Tommie's are so moved by the actions of the horse that they all stand around as horse and boy are reunited. There are lots of strongmen with quivering lips and everyone is thoroughly decent.
Spielberg was once the best of the best in terms of making films which made there marks on film making history, his early films are amongst the best ever made such as Jaws, Close encounters, ET, the colour purple etc. He even makes cracking adventure films such as the Indiana Jones films or thought provoking brilliance in Schindlers list but he should stop and take a long hard look at himself and say is this my output now and what do I want to be remembered for? I'd suggest he goes away watch Close encounters, ET or even Jurassic park and say right let's make another classic because that horse film what was I thinking?
I'm going to give this film 2 stars just because of the horses, but that perhaps tells you everything you need to know when the best acting is by the horses.
I'm not quite sure when I stopped being bothered about Steven Spielberg. He's a strange director. Aside from seeking out the next opportunity to make an audience cry, jump or go 'ooh', I'm not really sure what he does. That said, he has made some brilliant, brilliant films - some of which are undoubtedly among my all-time favourites. And, of course, whenever his next project is announced, I'm always as curious as I was when it was confirmed he would be making the popular novel and stage-play War Horse into a movie. Curious, but never excited.
The plot revolves around the relationship between Albert Narracott (played by Jeremy Irvine) and his self-trained working horse, Joey. Soon after succeeding to train Joey on the family farm, Albert's father (Peter Mullan) is forced to sell the horse to the army, enlisting him in the First World War and separating man and horse for what could be the rest of their lives. However, Albert has other ideas and eventually enlists himself, hoping to one day be reunited with Joey.
I have to admit that, while hoping to be proven wrong, I was expecting to find this film quite boring before I set about watching it. Something about the serendipitous circumstances under which it was already clear to me that the story would have to play out was very off-putting. Within the first ten minutes, I was squirming in my seat. I couldn't get over the horrible dialogue at all, with all these stereotypical Yorkshire 'folk' being all middle-England and annoying. Along with this, the story plods along so tiresomely that I really was phasing out from time-to-time, my attention drifting to when Spielberg knew how to really grab an audience by its throat.
None of which is to say that War Horse is completely without merit. There is some gorgeous cinematography from Spielberg's regular director of photography, Janusz Kaminski, most of which can be found within the setting of the war. There are also a handful of really exciting sequences, the most outstanding of which comes around twenty-five minutes before the end of the film, and most of the supporting cast are worthy of attention - particularly the likes of Emily Watson, Benedict Cumberbatch (also fantastic in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and Niels Arestrup in a performance so good I expected him to get an Oscar nomination.
There were moments where I thought this film was really quite silly. The manner in which Joey travels through his adventures and near-misses gets more and more unlikely as the film goes on and, while necessary, the awareness and intelligence of the animal became something of an annoyance to me. He's a beautiful horse, and there's no doubting that there is some power in his story, but it's something to which I was unable to fully connect at any point; something that Spielberg himself surely has to take the blame for. It seems at times as though the film has been quite lazily directed, with very little thought for the best shot angle or the wisest choice of edit for the pace of the film. Have I been put off Steven Spielberg movies forever now? No. Will I get as excited about his future projects as I used to in the past? Absolutely not.
Having read the book and watched the movie, from a feminine perspective, I have to say that they both get the thumbs up from me. They both recreate an euphoric nostalgic sensation of a time long past, when life was complex still, but had spiritual purity and a lasting sense of morality. However, this should not deter any generation from going to watch this movie as it offers the viewer an incredible journey from a unique perspective. The story in the book is told from the horse, Joey's viewpoint and is altered slightly. I am pleased to report that this is not that noticeable in the movie and the director has interpreted the relationships perfectly.
The movie's cinematography sweeps with the expanse of an epic across wide open spaces with grandeur and panache, while the story pulls you in, compelling you to watch and learn and re-experience from a very human perspective, how their lives must have been.
It is set during the onset of the First World War and deals with many serious social issues effectively. Where the movie differs most from the book is that Morpurgo (as he is writing for a younger generation) tends to be less biased and patriotic than the movie. It is, without a doubt, a difffiicult subject matter for any generation to comprehend, let alone a younger one. Apparently, Spielberg interviewed many of the familes whose ancestors had undertaken the responsbility of tending to the welfare of horses during WW1 with satisfying results. This empathic understandiing and care shines through the entire movie, which in my opinion is not twee but necessary. The star of the movie 'Joey's' plight is ultimately to survive the war and return home and while he sees and experiences the horrors of the guns, the rats, the trenches, the mud, mustard gas and continuous explosions, he also witnesses his fellow animals being shot and wounded. When he loses his first captain after his first charge of the war, he keeps on running straight into the German Camp.
The story is further complicated by human reaction to him, which sets him on a pathway that he has little control over. It is a must see movie and I would rate it as a 10/10.
Director Steven Spielberg has been a formative name in my film watching for many years. His film "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" was one of the first films I recall seeing at the cinema and the Indiana Jones franchise was the first film trilogy I recall becoming a proper fan of, seeing that before "Star Wars". Since then, he's directed some films I've loved, most notably "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan". More recently, however, he seems to have lost his touch a little, with the fourth Indiana Jones film being particularly poor.
With "The War Horse", Spielberg is returning to previously visited ground, with many of his better films covering times of war. There's no reason why this film shouldn't be a success, with the Michael Morpurgo book it's based on having been in print for 25 years and the play based on that having won 5 Tony Awards on Broadway. With Spielberg's past successes and the screenplay co-written by Richard Curtis, the man behind "Love Actually", surely nothing could go wrong? Yet "The War Horse" has not been welcomed with open arms by all critics, but it has subsequently been nominated for a Best Film Oscar.
We follow Joey, the title character, from his birth, until he is sold at market and bought by a farmer who pays more than he can afford. His son Albert is determined to train him to save their farm and all seems to be going well. When disaster strikes, the only thing Albert's father can do is sell Joey into the Army. The man who buys him promises to look after Joey, but he is killed soon after and Joey is captured by the German army and used to pull artillery.
"The War Horse" is certainly a brave effort for a film, showing the full range of emotions that war can put you through. Albert's father has memories of his time serving in the Boer War, which have driven him to drink and distraction. Albert, without this experience and because his father hasn't talked to him about it, still has a romanticised view of serving his country. This changes when Joey is sold and Albert comes to know the pain of separation war can cause. The horses also get a raw deal, with all the uses they were put to in wartime examined, with Joey being used as plough horse, battle charger and beast of burden. He is loved and overworked in equal measure and occasionally at the same time.
In theory, this should have been a heart warming and heart wrenching tale of the love between a boy and his horse, but it failed on several levels. The first of these is that the whole thing was way too twee. Spielberg is directing a film for studio which is part of the Disney Corporation, where you know right from the start that there will be a hero for the family to cheer for and little bad will ever happen, as that's how most Disney films turn out. Even during the war scenes, the detail that made the opening to "Saving Private Ryan" so effective was lacking and it felt no more than set dressing for a fairytale. Admittedly, there were a couple of scenes that wouldn't have made the cut if this was a true Disney film, but by Spielberg's normal standards, this was very weak, but perhaps that was the influence of the source material and Richard Curtis' writing, as much was what you'd expect from him.
The other major let down for this film was the acting. Considering that the story involved a farmer desperately trying to save his home, a boy badly missing his horse and all the trauma around war, there was a surprising lack of emotion on display. Indeed, the only acting performances I found terribly convincing came from the horses. Supposedly, the boy loved his horse and the horse loved him back, but only the horse really showed this and the best chemistry between characters was between Joey and Topfall. Indeed, the best piece of acting I saw in the film was the reaction of a whole herd of horses to a particular event. It may be this was the result of casting an inexperienced Jeremy Irvine as Albert, but I didn't find the performances of any of the humans terribly convincing, with the best possibly being Nicolas Bro's Friedrich. Generally, emotion was conveyed with little more than a change of voice tone and little more, so it was difficult to tell what was going on.
This also made it difficult to differentiate between the two sides in the war, although maybe this was intentional in order to make Joey the focus of the audience's attention. Soldiers from both sides seemed concerned for the horse's well being and all the officers were largely indifferent, seeing them as no more than beasts. In one scene late on, the concern for Joey was matched from both sides and the only way you could differentiate between the English and German soldiers were the accents and, even in such scenes, all the Germans spoke such good English that this wasn't an easily noticeable factor.
The music added to the twee feeling. With a score by the great John Williams, you know pretty much what you're going to get, which is a lot of mournful strings during the emotional moments and louder, more rolling music over the action scenes. That is indeed exactly what happened and whilst the music was well done, it only added to the string of Disney clichés that the film as a whole embraces.
With all this working against the film, it felt very badly paced. The film runs for just shy of 2 ½ hours, which was way too long for what was here. Given the Disney influence on the film, this makes it at least 45 minutes too long for the studio's usual output. Given that parts of the story ended up being too slow and a couple of parts which were probably designed to make the viewer feel more sympathy for the horses seemed to get a little repetitive, as all they showed were horses being repeatedly badly treated during the war. Some of the early scenes seemed to drag as well, as the weakness of the acting meant the attempt to build on the relationship between Joey and Albert never really succeeded and thus spent too much time going nowhere of note. Indeed, Joey wasn't a war horse until nearly an hour into the film and I know this because by that point, I was so bored I was already looking at my watch trying to figure out when it was going to end.
Fortunately, the film does have a saving grace and this comes in the visual field. I certainly can't agree with the film's nomination for the Best Film Oscar, but I applaud the one for Best Cinematography, as there were some beautiful shots here. The one that has particularly stayed with me was a scene in a windmill, where the opening door was played as reflected in Joey's eye. I accept this may have been achieved with computer trickery, but it was a gorgeous shot however it was done. The contrasts in scenery were incredible, too, moving from the rolling hills of Devon and France to the mud and puddles of the battlefield. It is a shame that in a film which should have contained so much emotion, the best scenes were the ones where there were few human actors on screen and no words were spoken.
That "The War Horse" should be a decent visual treat is no real surprise and on a large cinema screen, it's certainly something to behold. But the weakness of more or less everything else makes it very difficult to recommend spending much money on, so it's best avoided until it comes onto Sky Movies or unless you can get your tickets on the cheap, such as on Orange Wednesdays or if you already have a Cineworld pass. My ticket cost me £8.20 and whilst it's not the worst £8.20 I've ever spent, even at the cinema, it's an amount I do regret spending for so little return.
FILM ONLY REVIEW - NO SPOLIERS!!!!
Last night I was lucky enough to be one of about 150 people able to see an advanced screening of the new Spielberg film 'War Horse', a good month before it hits Israeli screens. Now, I do not know about you, but the man responsible for such classics as Schindler's List, Jaws, E.T, Saving Private Ryan and others had a bit to make up for after Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and more recently The adventures of Tintin. So it was with baited breath (must get that seen to!) that I went to see his new directorial film, written jointly by Richard Curtis - he of Love Actually and Four Weddings fame.
Now, as I understand it, the film is based on a children's novel by Michael Morpurgo which became a play that did well in theatres in the UK and the US. Never having seen the play I cannot make any comparisons, but the reviews for it were very good.
Set during the First World War, it is an 'against all odds' story of Albert Narracott, played by Jeremy Irvine, and his beloved horse Joey in Britain when World War I is about to begin. Joey is sold by Albert's alcoholic father to the cavalry and finds himself caught n the devastating fields of a devastating war while Albert attempts to find him.
The cast is strong with a solid performance by relatively unknown Jeremy Irvine, and there is fine support by Emily Watson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Mullan, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston and Toby Kebbel but what really steals the show is not the story, which if you look closely enough has more holes than a Swiss cheese, but the truly wonderful cinematography by Janusz KamiÅ"ski and if that man does not get an Oscar for it I am the son of monkeys uncle. Barring a few too many gratuitous and unnecessary sunsets, the cinematography was simply breathtaking and gave the film the epic proportions it needs, making you almost forget the fact that Germans and French characters all spoke near perfect English with accents that would not seem out of place in Allo Allo.
The influence of Richard Curtis as a writer is very apparent - there is a fair amount of Schmaltz (roughly translated as fatty bits) that you would expect to see from the man that penned Love Actually, but for those who remember the final scene in Blackadder in WWI, they will know recognize his ability to portray a poignancy that would bring a tear to even the most resilient of eyes.
Criticisms of the film include some very lazy clichés, hard to believe sub-plots, historical inaccuracies and characters as one dimensional as can possibly be. But you know what? It all gets lost in the touching and beautifully filmed story of a boy and his horse. The horrors of war are conveyed adequately enough without the gore and bloodshed seen in Saving Private Ryan and if you are willing to forgive a bit of schmaltz and some holes in the story, you are left with a feel good epic that provokes emotion and passion.