Newest Review: ... In the film of War Horse his role was Albert's father. Extra information: The DVD of War Horse lasts about 140 minutes. The language... more
War Horse (DVD)
Member Name: Wee_Jackie_163
War Horse (DVD)
Advantages: Wonderful story - Excellent cast ...
Disadvantages: None at all.
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.
Summary: A beautiful film with a wonderful story..