Steven Spielberg always has been a filmmaker who could comfortably and easily shift between making movies that pleased mass audiences and making those for his own pleasure. So, every "Jaws," "Jurassic Park," "E.T.," and "Indiana Jones" has been balanced by a "Schindler's List," "Saving Private Ryan," "Amistad" and "Munich." Both sides of Spielberg were on display on 2011 with Adventures of Tintin and 'War Horse.' Sweeping in its style and old-fashioned in its narrative structure, War Horse will likely take its place alongside beloved family films. Spielberg's enthusiasm and excitement glows in every single frame of War Horse. There isn't a moment in the movie where you don't feel Spielberg's passion, and this time, the film is worthy of his enthusiasm.
England, 1914 — Devon lad Albert Narracott (Irvine) tames, trains and bonds with a stubborn farm horse he names Joey. When times get tight, Joey is sold into the British cavalry and begins an adventure that takes him across France and onto the battlefields of World War I — with Albert in pursuit. The plot is chopped up into chapters that continue into each other using Joey as the protagonist. The war is almost an abstraction: Spielberg is interested only in the toll it takes, not what led up to it.
The film is so heartfelt and marvelously crafted by Spielberg, cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, editor Michael Kahn and screenwriters Lee Hall and Richard Curtis that all negative comments are just swept away. Spielberg’s collaboration with cinematographer Janusz Kaminski has mostly served up startling images of worn out worlds, War Horse might be their most gorgeous-looking collaboration after Schindler's List. England’s green land has never looked so green and pleasant. Mention must be made of the beauty of the final scene, in which the sky burns with oranges, reds, and yellows. John Williams' score is the perfect accompaniment to the images they have assembled.
Jeremy Irvine, making his film debut, gives a performance, which is frequently subdued; maybe that's a drawback of having to co-star with a horse. The rest of the cast, which includes well-respected character actors is filled with emotional and almost entirely sympathetic performances.
Spielberg’s hardest challenge, obviously, is getting us to care about the horse.The movie succeeds in that challenge. It’s worth sitting through all of “War Horse’’ for the sequence in which the exhausted animal, crucified by barbed wire in the middle of no man’s land, becomes the object of concern - and then the cause of a temporary peace - between the fighting British and Germans.
The film feels a bit long at 140 min., like it needs some tightening. If you are resistant to the director’s artistic worldview, it is unlikely to turn you around. Still, this is a beautiful, generous, thrilling picture, with a gentle spirit, with hope. That might also make War Horse the object of hate and ridicule in certain circles.
War Horse might not be the Spielberg's best film, but it is a solid, respectable effort, and the movie is definitely worth a watch.
War Horse - Imdb