War Horse – a Review

Well I guess I should start with my reaction to War Horse. I was filled with anticipation. Was I disappointed? Slightly. Did I enjoy it? Yes and No. Would I recommend it? Probably not. For those who don’t know, it is the story of a horse called Joey (played by 14 different horses and the differences are VERY obvious if you know anything about horses) and a young man called Albert. The first 30 minutes or so show you Albert getting the horse and forming a bond and teaching it, and climax with Joey (a thoroughbred) pulling a plough through a rocky field so they can plant turnips and save the farm. I thought I’d stumbled into a Dickensian The Grapes of Wrath.

When war breaks out and the father sells Joey to an officer things get more interesting. In fact that’s probably my main complaint, all the bits I enjoyed most didn’t feature Albert. I read an article where the director, Spielberg, says he didn’t want the film to have a restricted rating so he didn’t show the true nature of trench warfare. Correct. When two young German boys are shot for deserting, a windmill blade hides the actual moment of death. The best scene of all is the meeting of an English Corporal and a German soldier in no-man’s-land who work together to free the horse from barbed wire and then toss a coin to see who gets to take him. It has humour and pathos but is subtle. 

I agree with comments that I’ve read about the American influences. It was obviously shot in the UK, it features many idealised aerial shots of beautiful countryside, but the Devon sunset at the end is so CGI it looks like the burning of Atlanta. It just isn’t gritty enough, it feels like a sanitized version. And it is too long by at least 45 minutes.

I didn’t cry. Apparently most people do. Maybe I’m hard-hearted or maybe it just didn’t move me. It was suggested that I’d have used my box of tissues had it been named War Cat. That is plainly ridiculous, how could a cat plough a field or move an artillery gun? Mum enjoyed it in patches but it didn’t move her either, except to make her angry at the futility of war. 

The trailer for ‘Tinker Tailor Solider Spy’ looked amazing and that’s definitely one to see in the movie theatre. I just love Le Carre and it has many of my favourite actors in it. Speaking of which, has there been a film made in the last 12 months that doesn’t have Benedict Cumberpatch in it? If he didn’t have such a delicious name you’d have to invent it.  In War Horse he played an idiotic WWI Officer, I don’t think the role was that hard.

So I have a week to myself and I shall write. I intend, as Joanne Harris says, to ‘finish the hat.’ Which means I will have a finished version of ‘In Vino Veritas’ by the end of the week.  So I am away to the world of Vinnie and I wish you all a happy and productive week. Back tomorrow.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. M.C.V. Egan
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 08:31:28

    Than for the review, I’ll wait for it to be on cable! I too want to see the Le Carre film, looks AMAZING!!! I would not know one horse from another!


    • jmt4159
      Jan 16, 2012 @ 10:16:06

      I would. The Le Carre looks every inch a moody European film and full of cold war menace. Gary Oldham, Colin Firth, John Hurt great cast. A real old fashioned spy movie. Can’t wait!


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