'War Horse' beautifully demonstrates the bond between pet and owner - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Home

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

'War Horse' beautifully demonstrates the bond between pet and owner

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Nick Spake

Related Stories

Posted: Friday, December 23, 2011 2:00 pm

Sometimes I think we forget just how great Steven Spielberg is. Granted, he may occasionally jump the shark and have Indiana Jones confront aliens or have the government attempt to thwart E.T. with walky-talkies. When Spielberg hits it out of the park though, pure cinematic enlightenment is achieved. Within the course of just one week Spielberg has granted audiences two of the year's most superlative entertainments. In "The Adventures of Tintin" he tapped into his younger self and produced a thrill ride reminiscent of Indiana Jones. Spielberg's second feature of the month, "War Horse," is nothing short of a miracle of a motion picture.

The film begins on the brink of World War II, a period Spielberg has always been fascinated by as exemplified through "Saving Private Ryan," "Schindler's List," and others. A brown horse is born and is eventually separated from its mother to be sold at auction. The horse is purchased by Ted Narracott, an alcoholic farmer on the verge of loosing his land, played by Peter Mullan. Everyone tells Ted that he has overspent on such a small horse, especially his wife, played by Emily Watson. Nevertheless, the farmer stands by his belief that the horse will earn its keep. He entrusts the horse's training to his teenage son, Albert, played by Jeremy Irvine, who names the animal Joey.

The first act of "War Horse" is the classic tale about a boy and his horse, which it tells miraculously well. I've seen over a dozen movies about people and their horses, dogs, dolphins, whales, dragons, and so on. But few have been as sincere and touching as Albert and Joey's connection. The performances by both Irvine and the horse powerfully capture the genuine rapport that a person can share with an animal. As someone who once had a Labrador, I know that a truly special animal is more than a pet to its owner. It's a friend you can rely on. "War Horse" beautifully demonstrates this bond.

At a certain point you almost expect "War Horse" to go down the "Secretariat" route and have the struggling family enter Joey in a race. Matters take an interesting turn after the first hour mark, however, as World War II finally hits.

Unable to pay off his debts, Ted is forced to sell Joey to the Calvary. Throughout the course of the War, Joey finds himself in the care of several different owners, including a British Captain, two runaway soldiers, and a grandfather and his granddaughter. It's almost like a series of great short stories fluidly tied together. At the center of each of them is Joey in a pivotal role. This is nothing less than an imaginative feat of storytelling on behalf of screenwriters Lee Hall and Richard Curtis, as well as Michael Morpurgo who wrote the original novel.

It feels like I've been talking a lot about animals in my reviews lately, such as the scene-stealing dog in "The Artist." Joey, who was portrayed by 14 different horses throughout shooting the film, may very well be the most daring and courageous animal star in the history of live-action pictures. He even outshines Seabiscuit from the wonderful Gary Ross film. This is Joey's movie as we see the horrors of war through his eyes as he overcomes impossible obstacles. Joey develops a real personality and becomes one of the year's most compelling heroes. The filmmakers brilliantly accomplish this by relying on Joey's reactions to circumstances rather than simplifying him to a talking Disney cartoon. They even manage to incorporate an effective friendship between Joey and a black horse, which overcomes potential corniness with subtlety and warmth.

For the 13th time Spielberg teams up with Academy Award-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, who fuels the war scenes with unruly excitement. There's a remarkable shot revealing the aftermath of a battle that evokes a famous scene from "Gone With the Wind." Kaminski ingeniously incorporates a spinning windmill into a haunting scene in which two characters meet their demise. Watching Joey attempt to survive a battlefield as sheer chaos erupts is particularly an exhilarating sight to observe.

I loved just about everything regarding "War Horse," from John William's epic musical score to the intense sound design by Gary Rydstrom. Spielberg has made his finest film of the 21st century, which is very impressive given the company of "Munich," "Minority Report," and the underrated "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence." Like in many of his greatest movies, Spielberg isn't afraid to integrate a fair deal of sentimentality into "War Horse." There are heartfelt moments in the film that might have some audiences rolling their eyes. But like the ending of "E.T.," those moments are well earned and provide the backbone of one of the finest final 30 minutes of any movie you'll ever see. In short, this is filmmaking at its finest.

• Nick Spake is a student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for five years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com. Reach him at nspake@asu.edu.

  • Discuss

KidsCare brings affordable healthcare to Arizona

By Socorro Carrillo | Cronkite News PHOENIX — KidsCare returned to Arizona on Tuesday after a more than five-year absence and advocates expect…

Published: July 27, 2016 - 8:50 pm @ https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/2016/07/26/kids-care-az/

Dinesh D'Souza's 'Hillary's America' is Top-Grossing Documentary of 2016

The third film from the controversial conservative filmmaker — after 2016: Obama’s America and America: Imagine the World Without Her — has ta…

Published: July 27, 2016 - 8:51 pm @ http://www.breitbart.com/big-hollywood/2016/07/27/…

Smithsonian Celebrates 100 Years of America’s National Parks

Arches National Park, UtahA view of the Milky Way through the North Window arch in Arches National Park, Utah, 2013. The North Window arch is …

Published: July 27, 2016 - 8:50 pm @ http://goldrushcam.com/sierrasuntimes/index.php/ne…

Obama visits wounded veteran Cory Remsburg's new home

Gilbert - President Obama's visit to the Valley on Friday included a discussion at the Phoenix VA Hospital and a meeting with Kayla Mueller's …

Published: July 27, 2016 - 8:50 pm @ http://www.abc15.com/news/region-southeast-valley/…

This is what a pro athlete’s tax return looks like

NFL player Josh Martin’s taxes this year should be a lot less complicated than they were last season. Martin, a 24-year-old linebacker who ent…

Published: July 27, 2016 - 8:22 pm @ http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-jock-tax-and-…

Clinton Picks Virginia's Tim Kaine for VP

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine at an event in Northern Virginia last week. (Alex Wong/Getty Ima…

Published: July 27, 2016 - 7:55 pm @ http://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/kaine-profile-vp

Police investigating officer-involved shooting in Scottsdale parking lot

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - Police are investigating an officer-involved shooting in a Scottsdale parking lot. The incident was reported Wednesday aftern…

Published: July 27, 2016 - 6:55 pm @ http://www.abc15.com/news/region-northeast-valley/…

Police search for answers in Phoenix murder

"Best guy you would meet, he would help anyone out, didn't matter who you were because that's just the type of guy he was," said Leon Hill. Th…

Published: July 27, 2016 - 6:49 pm @ http://www.fox10phoenix.com/news/arizona-news/1823…

Anita and Sam Means on the One Thing Phoenix's Creative Scene Needs

Becky Bartkowski A A Every other year, New Times puts the spotlight on Phoenix's creative forces — painters, dancers, designers, and actors. L…

Published: July 27, 2016 - 6:51 pm @ http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/arts/anita-and-sam-…

Gabby Giffords delivers moving endorsement of Hillary Clinton: “Speaking is difficult for me, but in 2017, I will be able to say ‘Madame President'”

Topics: DNC 16, Elections 2016, Gabby Giffords, Gun Control, Elections News, News, Politics News Former Arizona Representative Gabriel Gifford…

Published: July 27, 2016 - 6:49 pm @ http://www.salon.com/2016/07/28/gabby_giffords_del…

Facebook

ahwatukee.com on Facebook

Twitter

ahwatukee.com on Twitter

RSS

Subscribe to ahwatukee.com via RSS

RSS Feeds

Spacer4px

Most Popular

Online poll

Loading…