With War Horse, Director Steven Spielberg has proved that he is in fine stead as a film-maker who has given an illustrious set of movies like E.T, Schindler’s List, Jaws, and Jurassic Park series – War Horse. A moving drama based on World War I, War Horse depicts the plight of horses in the times of war. Above all, it is an inspirational story about valor, love, heroism and sacrifice.
War Horse is based on a popular children’s novel of the same name written by British author Michael Morpurgo in 1982. He met veteran of the First World War in Devon village of Iddesleigh and came to know about the tragical loss of lives of humans and animals in the war. He based his story on the relationship between a young lad and his affection for his pet, and how they separate during the war.
The author had tried in vain to adapt the book into screenplay for a movie. However, it was adapted successfully into a stage play in 2007. Director Steven play along with screenplay writers Richard Curtis and Lee Hall has adapted the stage play into a film.
A farmer called Ted Narracott ends up buying a thoughbred horse even though he actually wanted to buy a plough horse for his farm. Nevertheless, the farmer’s son Albert takes a liking for the horse and calls him Joey. The boy and the horse are quite fond of each other.
Bad times approach for the Naracott family as a rainstorm destroys their turnip field. Under mounting debt, the father sells off the horse to a young English cavalry officer, Captain Nicholls. The captain and the horse are deployed in France. During one of the military operations, the captain dies and Joey is handed over to the Germans.
Two German soldiers use the horse before they are shot dead. Joey is then found by a young French girl who takes care of it, only to find that he is confiscated by German soldiers again. The horse is used for war; and during one such time, he escapes into No Man’s Land and gets caught in the barbed wire. The Germans and the British wonder about who can stay claim to the horse.
Finally, Joey is returned to the British territory where a partially blind Albert, who is also in the military, spots him. The celebration is short-lived because with the declaration of peace, comes the announcement of the auction. The horses would be sold to the highest bidder according to the rules. Will Albert lose his Joey yet again or will they come back home together?
Plus points about War Horse
Compared to the book which was told from the viewpoint of the horse, the movie has its screenplay based on the narrative of the stage-play by Nick Stafford in 2007.
War Horse manages to tug the strings of your heart with its moving plot. Richard Curtis and Lee Hall have come up with a screenplay that keeps you rooted. Cinematographer Janusz Kamińsk deserves a pat on his back for those stunning visuals. The movie is technically a masterpiece with fantastic art diection, crisp editing and amazing backgrounds score by John Williams.
Minus points of War Horse
Nothing much here, except that the first half is a bit slow but as soon as the war begins, the movie gains pace as well. The German soldiers are seen talking in English but we can forgive that considering not too many people like to read subtitles.
Performances in War Horse
Jeremy Irvine impresses with a heartfelt performance. Others like Emily Watson, Tom Hiddleston, David Thewlis, and Peter Mullan chip in. The top honor obviously goes to Joey, who interestingly, has been played by 14 different horses, eight of them in the role of the adult animal, four as colt and two of them were cast as foals.
War Horse is a that will appeal to all ages; it is a moving saga that tells you about love and war, and the beautiful relationship between man and animal. Though one may derive parallels with Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan due to the war background, War Horse is better when it comes to emotional content.