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War Horse (2011)

Posted on the 01 February 2012 by Mattstewart @Mattandcinema

War Horse (2011)



I was surprised by how much I enjoyed War Horse, I really was. Though it was heavily flawed, after letting it sink in for a day I found myself having admired the film more than I did when I left the theater. While War Horse was not entirely emotionally satisfying for me as a whole, on a technical level it was undeniably fantastic. The sound was amazing, and Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography was top-notch, look for him to bring home the award come Oscar night.

But really, did War Horse deserve its Best Picture nod? COME ON Academy, no! If a movie’s screenplay isn’t good enough to get a nod, and its directing isn’t good enough to get a nod either, then the film overall sure as heck isn’t good enough to get a nod. Still, we mustn’t let the Academy’s brainless blunders keeping us from enjoying above average films like these.

War Horse opens with a young boy named Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine) watching a horse giving birth, and then proceeds to showing the audience a bit about the horse growing up. Once it is older three men take it to be sold at an auction, and Albert’s father, who is in need of a draft horse, unintelligently buys the colt. Albert could not be more excited, but this could mean very bad things for the Narracott family; the landlord is giving them the opportunity to wait till harvest to plow their rocky field, but if they don’t it will be the last night they spend in their home.

Albert miraculously gets his new best friend, Joey, to plow the field in time during a heavy storm, and the nest day it is planted and ready to go. However, once another powerful storm comes the new plants are ruined and the only way for the Narracott’s to have enough money is for Joey to be sold to the army. Albert is crushed, and attempts to join the war just to stay with Joey, but due to his age he cannot enter. Though the Captain that bought Joey promises to return him if he is alive after the war is over.

Honestly, I don’t feel comfortable going any further than that. War Horse is so strangely broken down into different segments, the first hour the audience sees nothing but Albert, and then he just drops out of the story. If I continue down the plot (like I tend to ramble about) then we are all in danger of a spoiler present review. Nobody likes that, right?

If you haven’t already seen this film, be warned, War Horse is not a film about any one person, only a horse. Personally, I wasn’t expecting that. The character of Albert is developed very well, but just as we are forming an attachment to this young man he is gone. Following this the rest of the characters are pitifully developed. We don’t care about them, they are only in the film for a short time and after a while I must wonder, “what is the purpose of these characters in the film?”. As long as I am asking that question, someone (cough cough, Lee Hall) is doing their job wrong.

With that being said, the power behind War Horse is not the great potential the story had, but on the technical side of the film. The cinematography is so incredible I could sit and admire the beauty for hours and hours and hours. It’s movies like this that seriously make me wish I lived in Europe, a beautiful place that I never tire of seeing in film.

Ah, and it doesn’t end there! After Saving Private Ryan we ALL know how great Spielberg is at making war movies. Never has there been a war for more recently than it was. War Horse is in the same category on the technical side (definitely NOT as a whole). Movies such as Pearl Harbor and many others seem to portray the soldiers as fearless heroes who aren’t afraid of anything; Spielberg does it right. As an audience we can feel the fear coming from the soldiers, they aren’t blindly charging into battle with nothing to lose, they have families, lives, children, and they are scared to death. This is what makes a hero, and Spielberg always handles such aspects of war perfectly.

Final Word – I recommend War Horse highly. Not because it’s great, not because it’s perfect, not because it’s silly miracle horse story is anything close to realistic. War Horse is good for two reasons: Beauty and directing. Child’s play to his greatest work, but War Horse still proves that mr. Spielberg is one of the most consistent directors to ever live.


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