Advertisement

Movie Mom

Movie Mom

The War Horse

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of war violence
Profanity:Some mild language
Nudity/Sex:None
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking, smoking
Violence/Scariness:Some intense, disturbing, and graphic scenes of WWI-era war violence, human and animal characters injured and killed
Diversity Issues:Diverse characters
Movie Release Date:December 25, 2011
DVD Release Date:April 3, 2012
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of war violence
Profanity: Some mild language
Nudity/Sex: None
Alcohol/Drugs: Drinking, smoking
Violence/Scariness: Some intense, disturbing, and graphic scenes of WWI-era war violence, human and animal characters injured and killed
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Movie Release Date: December 25, 2011
DVD Release Date: April 3, 2012

The second Steven Spielberg movie of the week opens on Christmas Day, a grand epic, is big, long, ambitious, and showy.  It is a work by a master, but it is not a masterpiece.  Every detail is carefully considered.  Every leaf on every tree is perfectly aligned so that every sunbeam and shadow fall perfectly across them.  Every equine muscle, every country cottage, every blade of grass, every puff of smoke from a discharged weapon is exquisitely framed and lit, but the visuals outweigh the story.  The result is serviceable but stodgy, stuffy, and static.  The poetry and symbolism of the stage play (with a multi-operator puppet as Joey) is replaced by postcard-picturesque images that are visually rapturous but feel thin in comparison to the movie’s aspirations.

Advertisement

It’s “Black Beauty Goes to War,” the story of a magnificent horse named Joey and Albert (a dull Jeremy Irvine), the boy who loves him.  When World War I begins, Albert’s father sells Joey to a gallant young officer (Tom Hiddleston), who promises Albert he will do everything he can to keep Joey safe and get him back home after the war.  But war has a way of changing everyone’s plans and soon Joey is on his own journey that will take him back and forth between the British and the German forces and, for a short idyllic time, a respite with a frail but brave little French girl and her affectionate Grandfather.  The horse can switch sides in a way that a human cannot, and the movie makes clear the difference between the soldiers who are taken prisoner and shot and the animals who are inherently neutral and thus commoditized.  The brutality of war affects the human characters differently as we see in their responses to the animal.

Advertisement

The sweep and grandeur and tragedy of the film pay homage to majestic WWII-era filmmakers like John Ford, with gorgeous cinematography by  Janusz Kaminski.  One quiet scene of breathtaking power recalling the real-life Christmas truce reminds us of our better angels.  But it also reminds us of Spielberg’s better films.

 

Parents should know that this film has WWI-era peril and violence, some graphic and disturbing, with human and equine characters injured and killed. Characters drink and get drunk.

Family discussion:  How did different characters reveal themselves in the way they responded to Joey?  What does the barbed wire scene show us?

Advertisement

If you like this, try: “Black Beauty” and “The Black Stallion” and book by Michael Morpurgo

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Pat Lawrence

    This movie is a grueling punishment. The subject is anguish,not triumph, not horses. It was like watching a terrible beating in beautifully-lit slow motion. I can’t think of a single person -child, woman or man- I’ve ever known that would be glad they had seen this film.

Previous Posts

I'll See You in My Dreams
Blythe Danner gives a performance of exquisite sensitivity in "I'll See You in My Dreams," the story of a lonely widow. She plays Carol, a ...

posted 5:55:53pm May. 21, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Brett Haley, Writer/Director of "I'll See You in My Dreams"
Brett Haley wrote and directed "I'll See You in My Dreams," a bittersweet romance starring the luminous Blythe Danner as Carol, a widow ...

posted 3:12:21pm May. 21, 2015 | read full post »

Friar's Club Documentary -- Tonight on WNET and Online
Tonight on New York PBS station WNET, "Treasures of New York: Friars Club" will explore the rich history of the exclusive private club through never-before-seen footage of Frairs roasts and interviews with some of the club's most prominent ...

posted 8:00:01am May. 21, 2015 | read full post »

Alamo Drafthouse Tells Audience Members to Turn Off Their Cell Phones with Lewis Black of "Inside Out"
Lewis Black plays Anger in Pixar's new film, "Inside Out." So who better to remind the audience to TURN OFF THEIR CELL PHONES! [iframe width="560" height="315" ...

posted 4:05:38pm May. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Claire LaZebnik, Author of Wrong About the Guy
The wonderful Claire LaZebnik has written another terrific YA book.  This one is Wrong About the Guy, the story of Ellie, a high school ...

posted 3:54:36pm May. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.