Today we went to see the new movie War Horse, based on a book by the same name, and directed by Steven Spielberg. I already had expectations for it because the novel was my favorite book when I was in fourth and fifth grade.
Quick synopsis: Young Albert enlists to service in WWI after his beloved horse, Joey, is sold to the cavalry. Albert’s hopeful journey takes him out of England and across Europe as the war rages on. (IMDb)
Altogether, the best way I can think to describe it is it’s exactly what it sounds like. “War Horse”– it’s like Modern Warfare x Black Beauty. The first five minutes could probably have been taken directly from any other “story about a horse and kid” movie. (Kid sees horse in pain, hides, men try to relax horse, BAM, horse gives birth, new baby stands and nickers, kid smiles, timeskip five years or so, horse runs with mom around paddock while kid watches, sighing ominously.)
Then it lags in the introduction, making everything blatantly obvious and setting up the whole movie in a Disney fashion. I was kind of surprised, seeing as some of the biggest names in the industry worked on this movie. They couldn’t have been a bit creative?
Within a few seconds, it manages to transform from your typical feel-good Disney to an all-out brutal war movie. While there’s no blood, or anything particularly graphic, there’s definitely a lot of death. You get aerial views of battlefields, soliders dying left and right, and then switch until you’re riding along with Joey and Topthorn, watching their riders slaughter the opposition.
The movie transitions between the two–sweet to unsettling–rather quickly.
Almost all my favorite parts of the book were put into the movie, and nothing was added that didn’t keep the spirit of the novel. While the mood of the movie felt different, and I cried in different places in each, overall I’m pleased with Spielberg’s adaption. I think the conclusion to the movie was a lot more satisfying than the book, even if it was more open-ended.
I’d recommend seeing the movie, especially if you A) like Black Beauty, Sebiscuit, Secretariat, Flicka, Dreamer, etc, and B) don’t mind some pretty brutal war scenes.
And for goodness’ sake, READ THE BOOK! It’s a kids’ book, shouldn’t take you longer than an hour. But I still tear up thinking about certain parts. Compare it to Where the Red Fern Grows in that respect.