December 18, 2017

“War Horse” Contrasts Grim Realities of War with Brightness of Innocent Children

War Horse

By Julie Samrick

Just at the brink of World War I, an English farm boy is granted the opportunity to break in the colt whose birth he witnessed.  A steely bond between the two ensues, in the same classic vein as the Black Stallion and young Alec, or E.T. and Elliot. 


Told from the point of view of the horse, Joey, War Horse is an epic saga that spans the duration of the Great War in Europe.  The bright spots of kindnesses and the love of the innocent young people who cross paths with Joey buoy the desperation and sadness of the time.


This movie serves as a history lesson too.  It shows just how essential horses were in the early 20th century.  During wartime, they were the cavalry’s chief mode of transportation (approximately 1 million horses were killed during World War I.)  They were important to businesses and farmers back home, too.  In War Horse, it is scoffed at when a thoroughbred like Joey is bought to be a plough horse to save the family’s farm. A young soldier then barters for him to use in combat.  We see Joey change hands multiple times, a horse symbolizing a vital commodity of the time.


Horses like Joey were a staple of the bravado on the front lines, but this movie shows how a loved pet can also transform young lives. It was amazing to see the cavalry on horseback charging full speed ahead, swords straight out, rushing towards the enemy without restraint.  The various children who love Joey show bravery in their own lives too.  He helps one boy become a responsible man; a girl forgets her illness for a while; a young soldier takes time out to help others because of Joey. These young people may face poverty, loneliness or disease, yet Joey is there to uplift them.


The majestic music and attention to detail also make this movie one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. 


I would recommend War Horse for children 10 and older.  It is PG-13 for intense war scenes, but I think they are done tastefully.  There are loud artillery booms, which might scare young kids, and several deaths (mostly insinuations and no blood), but I do think the movie shouldn’t be missed for its rich lessons, morals and heart.  










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