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War Horse – Review

War Horse – Review

By Kate Maitland-Gleed

Score 5/5

Stephen Spielburg has done it again!! This film has got it all – laughter, tears, joy and despair. Although I haven’t read the Micheal Morpurgo book or seen the stage play, I knew from the previews that this was definitely going to be a very special film. I also couldn’t wait to see Jeremy Irvine – who plays Albert – up on the big screen as I had the privilege of interviewing him last May whilst I was with FILMCLUB. I would challenge the hardest heart to be unmoved by this film – in the last 15 minutes there was a noticeable blowing of noses and lots of sniffing going on in the auditorium! I saw the opening showing on Friday the 13th and the 2nd sitting was already sold out by then, so I’m sure this is going to be hugely popular!

The story follows Albert, who falls in love with Joey the horse, from the moment of the foals birth. As the foal grows and eventually goes up for auction, Albert has already gained the horses trust and affection. Alberts father, Ted (played by Peter Mullan) who is a Boar War veteran with a gammy leg who drinks to forget, goes to the auction to buy a workhorse for the small farm they rent, and he too falls in love with the magnificence of this animal and enters into a bidding battle with his landlord (played by David Thewlis), spending way too much on the horse, and of course, when he takes the horse home, the wife’s not happy! Rose Narracott (played by Emily Watson) gives hubby and son an ultimatum to have the horse earning his living in one month or he’ll be sold to recoup the cash to pay the rent.

WW1 is announced and the army arrive in the Devon village. They buy up horses, supplies and sign up recruits from the village and there’s a very emotional farewell between Joey and Albert. As a reminder as him, Albert ties his father’s battle pennant from the Boar War to Joeys harness and so the horse enters a new phase of his life in France. After a English attack backfires, the Germans take on Joey and his newly found horsey friend. Two young German brothers look after these 2 animals and then too recognise their beauty and magnificence, but when they try too escape to keep a promise too their father, they end up in a old wind-mill on a French farm run by an old-man and his grand-daughter, Emilie – who finds the 2 horses in there where they have been over-looked by the German soldiers who came looking for the deserters.

By now, 4 years have gone by and we see Albert in the trenches of the Somme and some very sombre scenes of trench warfare and a gas attack are brilliantly translated onto the screen. Spielburg obviously drew from his ‘Private Ryan’ experience for special effects and details – and a replica WW1 tank was made from an original in Bovington Tank Museum which makes a very imposing appearance that once again threatens Joey’s destiny. But fate steps in again, bringing a very touching moment between the English and the Germans – that means Joey is once more shown compassion and affection by a human being.

Whilst I don’t want to spoil it too much for the people who haven’t read the book or seen the stage show, I think I can safely say that you will be sufficiently moved by the ending. A great deal of humour runs through the whole film, even in the darkest moments which sadly illustrates the inhumanity of WW1.

I give this film 5 stars – deffo!! This one is a must see!

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