War Horse Rides Into Theatres Christmas Day! #DisneyDreamWorksEvent
Earlier this month, myself and 19 other mommy bloggers were given the amazing opportunity to attend the World Premiere Red Carpet Event for Steven Spielberg’s World War I adventure, War Horse. I was so nervous about seeing this movie because I do not have a good track record with movies featuring animals. It’s not that I don’t love animals, because I do; it’s that I love animals so much, and that movies or books that have certain types of scenes in them stay with me forever. War Horse has certainly stayed with me; this movie made me laugh, cry, and cheer all within the same minute.
I opted not to read the YA novel War Horse written by Michael Morpugo before seeing the movie; I debated over it, and eventually agreed with my husband that reading the book before seeing the movie would not give me the fresh view of the movie that I would later need when sitting down to write about the movie.
I’ve seen quite a few movies this year, but War Horse is my favorite of all of those movies from this year, whether they were new releases or old ones that I finally got around to watching.
War Horse is visually breathtaking, and it has a compelling plot line to complement all of the gorgeous scenery. The setting is England, right as World War I breaks out. War Horse follows the Narracott family, Ted (Peter Mullan), Rose (Emily Watson), and their teenage son, Albert (Jeremy Levine). The family’s farm is in danger of falling under; they owe quite a bit of money to their landlord, Lyons (David Thewlis). Ted brings back a young horse from auction, seeing something in the horse that no one else sees. The horse, who Albert names Joey, is spirited and wild. The fate of the Narracott farm rests entirely on Joey’s ability to plow the land so they can plant vegetables to harvest.
With Albert’s sure and steady hand, Joey surprises everyone–especially Lyons, who was far too eager to take over their farm. But hardships befall the family once again, and left with no other choice, Ted sells Joey to Captain Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston) to be taken overseas to Germany and ridden in war. The captain is sympathetic to Albert, and promises that after the war is over, he will return Joey to Albert.
No one expected the events that would happen next, or the journey that Joey would go on to get back to his family. Along the way, Joey touches the lives of many men, who may have felt de-humanized by the war, and separates the men from the animals. Most touching is Joey’s impact on the lives of a sickly French girl, Emilie (Celine Buckens) and her grandfather (Niels Arestrup). Arestrup is an incredible actor (if you’ve seen Sarah’s Key, I’m sure you’ll agree!) and his performance was heartbreaking and so realistic.
Eventually, Albert enlists in the war, never having given up hope that Joey is alive somewhere and that he will find him.
I’ll just stop here on the plot, before I get too carried away–which is easy to do when talking about this film!
Though the war is certainly a large part of this film, I wouldn’t classify War Horse as a “war film”. Yes, there are scenes in battle, and no, they aren’t easy to watch. They are filmed in such a way that your older children will be able to stomach them, and are perfect for queasy adults, too. War Horse is the perfect film to use as a tool to educate your children (I would say maybe 12 and up) about the consequences of war and what it does to the human spirit.
War Horse alternates back and forth between Albert and Joey, and it was beautiful and heartbreaking to see how much of their separate lives paralleled each other’s. If one was in peril, then the other one was, too, when the scene switched over. I thought this device was such a terrific way to tell both of their stories, and to show that even after all this time, Albert and Joey still have that bond with one another.
The musical score, composed by John Williams, is epic and is perfectly matched to War Horse. Williams has composed some of my favorite musical scores (Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter) of all time, and I truly feel that what he created for this film will be talked about for years to come.
War Horse opens in theatres on Christmas Day; if your family’s tradition after eating turkey, opening presents, and singing Christmas songs is watching a movie together, brave the nippy weather, bundle up tightly, and head on out to see War Horse. This is an unforgettable film about courage, strength, and the bonds that tie us together.
*Disney/DreamWorks provided me with an all expenses paid trip to New York City to attend the World Premiere of War Horse. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*