REVIEW: War Horse

After his successful 3D motion-capture animated feature The Adventures Of Tintin, the legendary Steven Spielberg provides us with another treat as he makes his second feature film of 2011. Although, War Horse is perhaps the most different war film that has ever been made seeing as isn’t that much a tale following the perspective of men during the war, but it’s really from the point of view of a horse. So, the fact that Spielberg was chosen for directing War Horse, there must’ve been an alter to the war genre as well as a guarantee that’ll leave the audience feeling emotionally attached and gripped to the film and what it consists of, which is a specialty of Spielberg. Having said this, War Horse provides a deeply personal story with a numerous number of meaningful messages that’ll melt your heart as well as break it.

As you watch it, it is rather easy to identify War Horse as a Spielberg film due to the facts that it mixes the innocence and personal friendships that we observed in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and the horror, heartbreak and devastation of war within his hugely successful war film Saving Private Ryan. So, this really is a film that only Steven Spielberg could pull off as it features so many particular aspects that we have seen him do so exquisitely over the years. Most directors nowadays would attempt to re-live what Spielberg has made, but this time Spielberg re-lives what directors before him had previously done. For example, he commemorates the works from directors such as Victor Fleming and John Ford with the farm-like backgrounds that provides peace and innocence, but with the dark and moving story behind it. Plus, it creatively manages to push in the R/15 certificate where war films are usually at this particular rating, but War Horse creatively manages to push in its PG-13/12A rating by being able to merge the deeply personal and intense aspects together that appeal to a wide target audience like it well and truly deserves.

Including the outstanding direction from Spielberg, the praise must go to breath-taking aspects of the cinematography, art direction and costume design. War Horse presents itself as a film of pure art as well as an emotional war-drama as the cinematography in many ways is very similar to classic Hollywood film Gone With The Wind. Plus, the backgrounds settings provides the “Awww” sense to it that makes it the occasionally sweet and innocent tale featuring the beautiful landscapes and the golden skies but also a sense of disgust and gloom due to the battlefields. John Williams, who has collaborated with Steven Spielberg in almost every single film that he’s done, never ceases to amaze as he once again puts together a very powerful, spine-chilling score that adds even more drama and reality into the film. However, despite the positives, the film did slightly suffer from slow pacing to begin with as it took quite a while to get going.

In almost every single film that Spielberg has made, he usually goes for an entirely different cast all-round as he works alongside some up-rising, young actors and some other experienced yet underrated actors in War Horse. However, despite the different cast the leading role has to go to Joey, the stallion who is the central figure of the story. Out of the 14 horses that played Joey, the leading one who appeared the most had already portrayed Seabiscuit in the film of the same name; this horse wasn’t just a horse make an appearance to charm the audience. It was literally like Joey, as well as the other horses, was providing an acting performance as we venture along with Joey through war and we can understand it from his perspective. This is exactly what this film is meant to bring out – how horses were truly treated during wars and the fact that their lives are still ones lost in the wars. So, if you’re an animal lover, you will almost immediately fall in love with Joey and will lead you to tears whilst experiencing his journey.

Jeremy Irvine makes his feature film debut as he portrays handsome and sweet-hearted Albert. Irvine’s performance may be underrated but he provides exactly what was expected from a young, sensitive man as the relationship between him and Joey is a firmly solid bond, especially in the opening segments of the film where they meet. In the war scenes, he renovates the charming and occasionally innocent nature that’s familiar to Lew Ayres’s role as Paul Bäumer in classic World War I film All Quiet On The Western Front. Emily Watson and Peter Mullan deliver grand performances as well as Albert’s parents Ted and Rose, and David Thewlis is very good as the arrogant landlord Lyons. Debuting French actress Celine Buckens and veteran French actor Niels Arestrup make crucial appearances too but they could have really done with speaking French with English subtitles as it would’ve perhaps made a bit more realistic. There are also other surprise arrivals into the film from recent breakthrough actors Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch and they make their mark in War Horse with solid performances too.

Overall, War Horse is truly an absolutely magnificent and epic story that expresses the firm bind and the personal effects that friendship beholds. Plus, it demonstrates war as a whole from an entirely different perspective that hasn’t really been taken into account. War Horseis one of those films that will leave you feeling a wide range of mixed emotions as it is a deeply inspiring, genuinely cute and nail-biting journey that is yet another fine accomplishment from Spielberg and will surely lead you to tears of heartbreak and joy.

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~ by SJMJ91 on 15/05/2012.

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