Monday, December 26, 2011

War Horse

12/26/11 I saw this again, and once more found it to be a rousing, sentimental and thoroughly entertaining old-fashioned picture. Certain critics panning the film for being 'overly sentimental' and 'boring' must also reserve the same sentiments towards "Gone with the Wind", "Ben-Hur", "Lawrence of Arabia" because "War Horse" is made in the same vein as those classics and plays nearly as well.

11/2/11 A drunken English farmer foolishly buys a thoroughbred at auction, an animal which will not help him plow his rocky fields. The farmer's son quickly forms a bond with the horse, and gently breaks it in. As the First Great War approaches, the father sells the horse to the army and we follow the extraordinary creature on his journey through war torn Europe, as the young soon to be enlisted son yearns for the day that he can reunite with his beloved pet. "War Horse" is epic filmmaking from director Steven Spielberg who crosses several different genres in his creation of this grandiose film, from a book by Michael Morpurgo. The opening passage features panoramic shots of the countryside and the story resembles "The Black Stallion" and other earlier Mickey Rooney horse films. Then as the horse is sold, we are taken on a "Winchester '73" type of journey, as we are given rousing, sweeping battle scenes as well as quiet, domesticated vignettes. The cast is very fine as well, as great character actors populate the cast. Jeremy Irvine is sincere as the young boy, and Peter Mullan and the great Emily Watson are fine as his parents. Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Thewlis, Eddie Marsan, and Niels Arestrup deliver fine work as well in supporting roles. I was really taken by this ambitious and touching film, even though I felt that not all scenes worked out completely, some needing trimming while others needing fleshing out. Regardless, this is old fashioned, large scale filmmaking and a needed reminder of why we love going to the movies.