As much as I love history, I do tend to avoid watching war films, as those films get me more emotional (and usually angry), compared to other films. However, the few that I have watched are usually concentrated around the American Revolution or World War II. However, recently, I have been learning a little bit more about World War I (just for fun), and decided to watch Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse”, primarily because it is a Steven Spielberg film, and because it also has Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch in the cast listing.
I was hesitant about the film at first because of its title, but because of all of the other factors, and because of the fact that I loved the last movie I ever watched that centered around a horse (“Seabiscuit”), I decided to give it a chance.
The 2011 film is an adaptation of the book by Michael Morpurgo, which was also adapted into a stage play, and was produced by Steven Spielberg (who also directed the film) and Kathleen Kennedy.
“War Horse” tells the story of the journey of a horse named Joey, from him living in the English countryside of Devon in 1912, all the way to the battlefronts of World War I. However, instead of the film being too much of a feel good movie, it is a film that pieces together the experiences of different sides of the war, as it tells the interconnecting story of those whose lives Joey has touched- from an English country boy, to a little French girl, all the way to a German soldier.
The film, aside from showing the atrocities and the human lives that the war cost, also showed how much animal life, and particularly, that of horses, were sacrificed.
They did a good job in the casting department, as each actor showed a more human and more vulnerable side to the war.
This was particularly striking in Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of Captain Nicholls, as the film did manage to capture those moments of fear and hesitation a soldier has before he goes into the fray, and it greatly humanized the Germans, who are, until now, still reeling from the legacy of World War II.
The moments with Joey were magnificent and beautiful, as it was a perfect blend of wonderful cinematography and the masterful score of John Williams, which really set the mood for every scene in which the audience was with Joey alone.
In particular, one of the climactic scenes in the film which involved Joey was brilliantly done to the point that I was really worried for the horse, and it kept me at the edge of my seat.
I must admit that a felt tears welling up in my eyes at certain points, but I did not end up gushing and melting into a bucket of tears, but all the right emotions were there.
All in all, this was a film that not only piqued my interest about World War I, but it was also another masterfully done film by Steven Spielberg, who proves that without a doubt, he is a master of film and storytelling.