December 22, 2014
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War Horse
Don Fowler
4 stars
Reviewer's Rating:

(Adventurous horse story)

"War Horse" is an episodic, adventurous story about a boy and his horse, set during World War I and the battles between England and Germany. It is hard to imagine how the sweeping, action-packed movie is told on stage on the Tony-Award winning play from which it was taken.

The movie opens on a hardscrabble farm in England, with a drunken father, caring mother (the great Emily Watson) and their teenage son striving to keep from losing their farm. The father buys a horse at auction and Albert (Jeremy Irvine) teaches him to plow the fields.

The family is losing the struggle when war breaks out and the father has to sell their beloved Joey to the army. Joey befriends a beautiful big black stallion and they become inseparable. What follows is one episode after another, as Joey is captured by the Germans after his cavalry officer is killed in battle.

Two young German soldiers desert and take refuge in a farmer's windmill. They are captured, the horses are recaptured by the Germans and the war horse's adventure continues. This is a true story of survival, as Joey plays a big part in the war.

Eventually, Joey and Albert recount, but not before an intense scene where a German and an English soldier come together to save Joey's life, reminding us of the old Christmas story where the war stops for a few minutes on Christmas Eve as soldiers pause to sing "Silent Night.”

The movie goes from bucolic scenes to intense war scenes, stopping occasionally to pull on our heartstrings. While a bit contrived at times, "War Horse" is a moving story of faith and courage, beautifully filmed and acted by excellent British thespians.

Rated PG-13, with the violence of battle.


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