Samantha Ellis, Global Animal
When DreamWorks, Disney, Steven Spielberg, and John Williams team up to make a movie, you can bet it’s going to be good. But War Horse isn’t just good, it’s great.
Set during World War I, the audience bears witness not only to the often overlooked role horses played in the fighting, but also to the incredible power that animals have of bringing out the humanity in people, even in the most horrific of circumstances.
The story revolves around Joey, a Thoroughbred horse from Devon, England, and Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine), the boy who raised him. The first 20 minutes or so of the film has everything you would expect from an animal movie — a boy overcomes all odds with the aid of his horse. But just when everything seems to be going well for Albert and his family (played by Emily Watson and Peter Mullan), England joins the war. Joey is sold to the cavalry, and an under-aged Albert must remain behind.
Throughout the course of the film, as Joey passes from place to place and person to person, we see the compassion that an animal can inspire. In one scene, Joey is trapped in the no man’s land between the German and British trenches. Both sides agree to hold off on shooting one another to save the animal. While working together to save Joey, the German and the English soldier form a bond that otherwise never could have existed. While the presence of a wounded horse by no means brought an end to the fighting, it did allow a small amount of hope and humanity to emerge from the chaos.
War Horse unflinchingly displays the waste and horror of war — minus the gore of an ‘R’ rated film — which may be too much for some viewers. People and animals alike are killed on a vast scale, so if you are particularly sensitive to seeing the corpses of humans or animals, this movie may not be something you want to see. Otherwise, don’t forget to bring a box of tissues.
Spielberg’s vision required more than just excellent acting on the part of the humans actors, but from the horses as well. To do that, the horses had to be well-trained and well cared for. Throughout every step of the film, the well-being of the horses was top priority for cast and crew.
“The thing I emphasized from the outset was that the horses had to be safe,” said Spielberg. “I love horses and I didn’t want them to ever be in harm’s way. Bobby [Lovgren, the horse trainer] did that. Another essential person was Barbara Carr, the American Humane [Association] representative, who was there for every single shot. I gave her full power to pull the plug if she ever felt any of the horses were not up to the challenge or if she thought they could be injured in any way.”
The American Humane Association has certified that no animals were harmed in the making of War Horse.
We give War Horse a 5 out of 5 paw rating.
War Horse opens in theaters on December 25.
Check out these pictures from the premiere in New York.
Watch the trailer.
Visit the film’s official site: http://www.warhorsemovie.com/