Movie Review: War Horse

There's only one way to watch a movie that focuses on an animal, and that's with a kid.  Kids and animals grab hold of your heart and run with it like there's no going back.  In addition, kids will jump with two feet into a compelling story line, and they won't look at you like you're simple when happily-ever-after comes to the screen with a pretty sunset and silhouettes that let you claim the very bigness of life for yourself.

Kids know how to enjoy a good story.

I was glad to be with my kid and her friend to see War Horse this week.  Steven Spielberg's movie adaptation of the children's novel by Michael Morpurgo captures the magical relationship of Albie,  the son of a dirt-poor farmer in Devon, England, and Joey, a powerful young race horse his alcoholic father impetuously buys at auction--to the chagrin of his wife.  Albie does not break the horse but wins him over, and this elegantly powerful animal becomes a work horse.

When World War I breaks out, Joey becomes a war horse who is pressed into service alternately by the Brits and the Germans, suffering as much as anyone else at the Battle of the Somme and other confrontations and surviving with more than his share of scars.

In the end, he is reunited with Albie.  This statement is not a spoiler but a foregone conclusion.  The old-school Disney-style opening tells you the story will come full circle.  How and at what price are the questions that keep us on the edge of our seats for the length of this beautifully filmed movie.

After the movie, my daughter and her friend were talking about the War, who was on what side and how cruel the whole gig was and how wrong because so many people suffer.  They remarked on the silliness of the British army to believe it could march on a German garrison and honestly believe it was unprotected.  How beautiful the horse was, how cruel the landlord, how strange the dad.  

How strange and beautiful that the story of a horse could open children's minds to some big life questions.  That horse got those girls closer to some good answers that few adults have come close to in the century since that war.  Truly, an honest heart is its own reward--and a compass that helps one find home.  Just ask the horse.

(I wrote this review after reading several negative reviews by reviewers that seem not to know or care what a movie is to a child.)


  1. Your review is wonderful and so tender. I love viewing through a child's eyes. So sweet and trusting! They believe

  2. Fortunately I missed the negative reviews. My sister, who owns and rides horses, and teaches "hippology" at the local 4H (and thus in my mind at least is a fully qualified "horse person"), saw it twice and will probably see it again. My wife and I haven't seen it because we can't stand the end that we think happens. I'm thinking we ought to go ahead and check it out.

  3. I am afraid to watch the movie. I cried watching the trailers. I might see it when I can watch it at home. If bawl there no one will notice. :/

  4. I agree with Lisa above. It was a great movie to see with your kids (daughter and friend)....

  5. I wrote the name down -- I think it would be a very good movie for me. Thanks!

  6. That movie is on my list to see. It's great when something touches your soul to think and feel about life...


Post a Comment

Thanks for being here.