February 6, 2012
When we watch this film, we have to keep in mind that this was based on a children's book by Michael Morpurgo, published in 1982, as well as its 2007 stage adaptation. The story is then predictably sentimental and melodramatic to appeal to its target juvenile audiences. This film was appropriately helmed by the acknowledged expert in directing films for young audiences, Steven Spielberg.
"War Horse" is about an elegant brown stallion named Joey by the teenage boy who raised him, Albert Naracott. When war broke out between Britain and Germany, Joey was sold by Albert's father to the army, as Albert tearfully promises they will see each other again one day. From there, we follow Joey's intense experiences, both bad and good, in and out of the line of battle. Will Joey and Albert ever be reunited in the end? I think you all know the answer to that.
The photography is the best feature of this film as the camera captures the dramatic vistas in both peace and war times in the British countryside. Spielberg also reminds us of his proficiency with war scenes, as he had shown us before in films like "Empire of the Sun," "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan." Joey has some spectacular scenes as he gallops through the battlefield and through the trenches. Spielberg really knows how to amaze us with technically fantastic shots, without losing the emotion and heart of the story. All in all, when appreciated in the context in which it was made, "War Horse" fully deserves its place among the nominees for the Best Picture of 2011. My kids loved it too.