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July 21, 2017

War Horse (2011) --- "The Bond Between A Boy And His Horse Travels Across Countries And Through Years."

Plot Summary
Albert (Jeremy Irvine) and his beloved horse, Joey, live on a farm in the British countryside. At the outbreak of World War I, Albert and Joey are forcibly parted when Albert's father sells the horse to the British cavalry. Against the backdrop of the Great War, Joey begins an odyssey full of danger, joy, and sorrow, and he transforms everyone he meets along the way. Meanwhile, Albert, unable to forget his equine friend, searches the battlefields of France to find Joey and bring him home. 

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
    Steven Spielberg has directed many amazing movies throughout his career; films like Schindler's List, Jaws, E.T, and Saving Private Ryan just to name a few. So when it was announced that Spielberg was going to be directing film adaption called War Horse there is no doubt that the film would have some big shoes to fill considering that the play and book, of the same name, were big hits. Based on the book by Michael Morpurgo (When the Wales Come, My friend Walter), War Horse, which should be an essential children’s read, tells the story of a young boy named Albert Narracott (Jeremy IrvineThe Railway Man, Now is Good) and his beloved horse Joey. Living in the countryside of the Britan, Joey and Albert develop a unique bond that beyond a simple relationship between man and animal, they are each other’s best friends. But Joey and Albert’s bond gets tested with the beginning of World War I and the two find themselves separated through warring countries. As Joey finds himself trapped in the devastating fields of war can Albert keep his promise to find him and bring him home?

    Spielberg’s film adaption of War Horse is a stunning masterpiece and a closer look reveals that both book and film contain an overwhelming amount of humanity during one of the darkest times in global history. Beforehand Spielberg said that he did not want to make another war movie like Saving Private Ryan again but rather he aspired to make a war movie that parents could take their children to see. One that teaches them about love and war, and I can respectfully say that he has succeeded. While the film does not fully reach the analytical perfection of Saving Private Ryan (SPR), War Horse far exceeds SPR in terms of heart and true emotion. There are tear-worth emotional scenes throughout SPR but tear-worthy scenes in War Horse are more similar to Schindler's List. However, unlike Schindler’s List or Saving Private Ryan, War Horse is unlikely to result in political or moral complaints. Spielberg never tampers with an anti-war message nor does he depict the Germans as the devil-incarnate, instead there are no sides as he demonstrates that war is evil and men are good. This dramatically sets War Horse apart from SPR by rejecting the message that heroism can only mean dying for one’s country. There is a balance between heartfelt emotion and the tragic problems the main characters have to face – both in their separation and in the people they meet. These emotional contrasts are the reason why Spielberg has successfully adapted a beloved book to film. Rose Narracott (Emily WatsonBelle, Water Horse) utters a line about the “refusal to be proud of killing” and considering that Spielberg is Jewish, this line summarizes the film's meaning. It’s his hidden way of saying that, despite the suffering received by his kin, he is willing to forgive their oppressors.
”See, what you did today, you and Joey, you're chuffed up now, and so you should be, my splendid boy. It's good to be proud when you did something good. But what he did in Africa, whatever it was, he takes no pride in it. Hard as it surely was and however much pain it's cost him, he refuses to be proud of killing, I suppose.”1
[Rose to Albert about Ted, his father]
     The film was professionally made and the overall look of the film is spectacular and breathtaking. The cinematography by Janusz Kaminski (Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan) looked amazing, the music score by legendary composer, John Williams (Star Wars and Harry Potter films) was beautifully crafted, and the film editing by Michael Kahn (Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan) was of professional quality. The entire cast is amazing and each member filled their roles admirably, offering their own level of humanity and emotion to the film. The character of Joey, though a horse, was portrayed beautifully. Obviously, he did not have any lines but you could easily understand what he was saying through his eyes and mannerisms. ***SMALL SOILER*** There is one particular scene where Joey gets trapped in a tangle of barbed wire in the middle of No Man's Land and he can only be freed through the combined effort of an Englishman and a German, who put aside their differences under the name of human decency. The scene is breathtaking and is the sort of scene that could not have been done by anyone other than Spielberg.

     Overall, War Horse is the perfect family film with its touching illustration of the relationship between a boy and his horse, and of the life in the countryside during WWI. This is Spielberg at his highest, so be prepared to be moved by a film that is sentimental and emotional. Nowadays there are very few films that can be considered a good old fashion studio epic and I am glad Spielberg delivered one for us. Throughout the film, there are a lot of powerful scenes that are so moving it can make anyone tear up as it shows the physical and emotional consequences of war. While there are some battle scenes which are astounding, the typical war scenes of blood and gory (like in Saving Private Ryan) are abandoned here in favor of a genuine story that evokes truly heartfelt emotion that fits in with the beauty of the film’s message. Perhaps it is possible to find acts of humanity even in dark times.

“I promise you, that I'll look after him as closely as you've done, I'll respect him and all the care that you've taken with him. And if I can, I'll return him to your care.”
- Capt. Nicholls [to Albert, on buying Joey]

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  5 of 5 star
Worth Buying:  5 of 5 stars

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Movies Similar 
Australia (2008)
Bridge of Spies (2015)
Boy in the Stripped Pajamas (2008)
Cold Mountain (2003)
Flyboys (2006)
Hidalgo (2004)
The Horse Whisperer (1998)
Legends of the Fall (1994)
Lincoln (2012)
Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Schindler’s List (1993)
Water for Elephants (2011) 

Cast & Crew
 Directed by Steven Spielberg
Writing Credits
      (Screenplay) Lee Hall and Richard Curtis
      (Novel) Michael Morpurgo
      (Stage Play) Nick Stafford
Produced by 
     Revel Guest                     ---   executive producer
     Kathleen Kennedy          ---   producer
     Kristie Macosko Krieger ---   associate producer
     Frank Marshall                ---   executive producer
     Tracey Seaward               ---   co-producer
     Adam Somner                 ---   co-producer
     Steven Spielberg             ---   producer
Music by John Williams
Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski
Film Editing by Michael Kahn
Production Design by Rick Carter
     Jeremy Irvine                     ---     Albert Narracott
     Peter Mullan                        ---     Ted Narracott
     Emily Watson                      ---     Rose Narracott
     Niels Arestrup                    ---     Grandfather
     David Thewlis                     ---     Lyons
     Tom Hiddleston                 ---     Capt. Nicholls
     Benedict Cumberbatch    ---     Maj. Jamie Stewart
     Celine Buckens                   ---     Emilie
     Toby Kebbell                       ---     Geordie Soldier
     Patrick Kennedy                 ---     Lt. Charlie Waverly
     Leonard Carow                   ---     Michael
     David Kross                         ---     Gunther
     Matt Milne                            ---     Andrew Easton
     Robert Emms                      ---     David Lyons
     Eddie Marsan                      ---     Sgt. Fry
     Nicolas Bro                          ---     Friedrich
     Rainer Bock                         ---     Brandt
     Hinnerk Schönemann      ---     German Soldier in No Man's Land
     Gary Lydon                           ---     Si Easton
     Geoff Bell                              ---     Sgt. Sam Perkins
     Tony Pitts                             ---     Sgt. Martin
     Irfan Hussein                      ---     Sgt. Maj. Singh
     Pip Torrens                          ---     Maj. Tompkins
     Ray Holder                           ---     Fred Goddard
     Paul Alexander                   ---     Dave Hill
     Beth Ogden                          ---     David Lyons' Girlfriend 

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