Sometimes it is really nice to watch a movie just to watch a movie. A film like Warhorse can’t really be pigeon-holed into a specific genre. It is a war movie but it’s not just a war movie. It’s a movie about a horse but it’s not just a horse movie. It is an old fashioned film that concentrates mainly on the art of story telling itself. In that, it succeeds beautifully.
Warhorse is simply a story about the life of a horse and the stories of the many lives that intertwine with this remarkable animal. Against the back drop of World War I, the horse passes from owner to owner, impressing all with its spirit and strength. The horse effects each life differently but always in a positive manner.
World War I is an ignored and nearly forgotten war in this country. Maybe it is because the United States entered the conflict so late but history slides right over this massive, brutal war. It may have been the most brutal, useless war in the history of this world, especially for the French, British, and Germans. It was a war fought in trenches for small patches of land covered in pits and barbed wire. Casualties were incredible for the pitiful gains garnered. A generation of young men was wiped out in Europe for very little purpose.
Director Steven Spielberg pays a lot of attention to the details of war. Spielberg is as much a historian as he is a film maker, in my opinion. He educates several generations on the brutality of World War I in this film and in a manner which should draw interest from many types of audiences. His brilliance at storytelling is on full display in Warhorse. The story is patient and layered. The movie flows slowly early on but picks up the pace as the war starts and more characters are added to the pattern of the film’s namesake. Once the war starts, the story never stalls or falters as it marches through the war.
This film is appropriate for most audiences but there are a few scenes which may cause issues for younger or more sensitive children. Several adults in the theater also struggled through two or three very emotional scenes as well. Spielberg shows some of the horrors of this war but refrains from anything too graphic. Many things are left to the imagination of the audience in a sensitive manner.
The movie is long and emotional but it is an important film that should ignite some discussions and research about the first word war. My twelve year old is already asking questions. The acting is fine and the horse is noble but it is the storytelling that is the key to Warhorse. Go as a family, get some popcorn, and just enjoy film making as it is supposed to be.
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