The much-hyped Stephen Spielberg movie, War Horse, opened on Christmas Day. Since all the festivities at my house were over by early afternoon I decided to see the film in a packed theater at a matinee showing. (The prices are always much less at this first showing.) War Horse has to be one of the three best modern "horse" movies I've seen.
If you know little about World War I you will gain some perspective. You will even feel the theater rumble and shake from the sounds created by the bombs hitting the trenches of British soldiers. The insanity and cruelty of this war was particularly barbaric. So many died in the field with so little hope of survival. The war became a battle of attrition. Most of us alive today have almost no sense of either the reasons this war was fought or the true carnage that was involved for much of Europe. And the end of the Great War merely prepared the way for another war two decades later.
But this movie is not about World War I. Yes, there are some chilling combat scenes for sure but even these are not of the sort that we have become accustomed too in modern war films. The star of this film is truly the horse. This amazing and beautiful animal will likely prompt you to admire him like few animals you've seen in starring roles. I'll not give away the end but let's say that if you truly get into the story line, and feel the pathos of the central human character and his beloved horse, you will be deeply moved. The plot is somewhat formulaic and the ending is slightly predictable but on Christmas Day this all made for an enjoyable and truly feel-good film. Will it win awards? It should be nominated for several. Whether it wins or not the film is beautiful and satisfying, like fine wine.
The film is rated PG13 for the war scenes but personally I think I would take a teen, ages 14 or 15 and up. If you loved Seabiscuit, and I did, then prepare yourself to fall in love with a horse. You might even shed a "feel good" tear or two and applaud at the end, just as the audience did in the theater where I saw the film on Christmas Day. War Horse is a great movie. I give it three and a half stars.