My personal review of the film War Horse, directed by Steven Spielberg.
War Horse - the Film
directed by Steven Spielberg
War Horse is the film, that was based on a stage show that was based on a children's book by British Author Michael Morpurgo.
However, the underlying theme that runs through the story, whether you read the book, watch the play or see the film is the courage of the main characters, horse and human.
Initially set in the rural English County of Devon, the story takes the horse of the title on an epic and dangerous journey through war torn France from 1914 - 1918. Director Steven Spielberg works hard at establishing a huge contrast between the rugged but beautiful countryside of Dartmoor and the flooded, muddy battlefields of the Somme.
The film will undoubtedly come as a shock to younger viewers who may not have realised the uses to which horses were put during World War I and although some scenes were harrowing, they probably won't upset the intended audience too much.
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From legendary director Steven Spielberg comes the epic adventure War Horse, a tale of incredible loyalty, hope, and tenacity. Based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway play, and...
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From legendary director Steven Spielberg comes the epic adventure War Horse, a tale of incredible loyalty, hope, and tenacity. Based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway play, and...Only $7.05
|War Horse (Newmarket Pictorial Moviebook)|
What did we think about War Horse?
It's OK - there's no spoilers!
I saw the film with my husband and daughters aged 15 and 13. The eldest is the horse mad one and a very good rider, although the younger one likes horses too.
In the UK, the film has a "12A" certificate, which means that no child under the age of 12 can view the film unaccompanied by an adult and my own feeling was that any child under the age of 8 would probably find some of the film upsetting.
I suspected that the film would probably not be too concerned with accuracy in some of the depiction of the First World War and I was right. But at least the camera work and the settings gave a feel for what it must have been like, trapped in trenches in the mud and the utter terror as the soldiers had no choice but to "go over the top".
Spielberg makes us very sympathetic to all the soldiers, not just the British and I really liked that. There were no "goodies" or "baddies", just humans and horses caught in a war that was not really of their making.
And from my research it does seem that many of them, both British and German, developed a love for the horses in their care, as conveyed by the film.
Although some of the scenes did give us a bit of a jolt, I am glad that Spielberg did not feel the need to splatter everything in blood as men and horses were killed in battle.
Sometimes I felt that the orchestral soundtrack, composed by John Williams was a bit to much, but on the whole the music was used well, particularly in shots that left you in no doubt about what the horses were probably feeling.
Anyone who loves horses can't fail to be moved at the sight of these beautiful creatures being used in a War setting. The thought being made all the more distressing when you consider that horses evolved to run away. A point made by one of the characters in the film and a point made to me by my Blacksmith when he was shoeing my own young trembling horse, many years ago.
But the biggest relief is that the horse was NOT given a voice. Clever filming and use of the soundtrack made it completely unnecessary.
The verdict from the whole family is that WarHorse is a film well worth seeing and I would not mind betting that there will be an Oscar nomination or two.
War Horse Trailer
The Bond between Joey, the horse and the boy, Albert
I am guessing that it would be very hard for someone who did not know anything about horses to imagine, let alone understand, the bond that can develop between a horse and its owner. However, through brilliant camera work, Spielberg manages to convey the trust that grows between the young and spirited colt Joey and the boy, Albert, who is determined to train him.
This makes the scene when Joey is sold to a soldier who is heading for the war in France even more poignant.
With his huge blue, pleading eyes Jeremy Irvine, who plays Albert makes it very easy for our heart strings to be tugged and yes, I think my teenaged daughters fancied him like crazy too.
Jeremy Irvine spent a lot of time with the horses, mucking them out and grooming them in order to establish a relationship with them and although stunt riders were used, he did most of his riding as did the other actors, even during the battle scenes.
War Horse - the Book
by Michael Morpurgo
|War Horse: (Movie Cover)|
the Hollywood Horse who plays Joey
The lead role in War Horse is not the first time thoroughbread Finder's Key has been on the screen. He has been dyed black for a role in CSI Miami and also appeared alongside stars like Antonio Banderas and Denzel Washington.
Trained by his owner Bobby Lovgren, Finder's Key is 11 years old and based in the US. He had to be flown to the UK and Europe for the filming of WarHorse.
"Finder" as he is generally known is what is termed a "Liberty Horse". This means that he will work without restraints.
Steven Spielberg talks about War Horse
Filming with Horses
an Interview with Bobby Lovgren
An interview with Bobby Lovgren - source Upcoming Discs
Bobby Lovgren, as well as owning Finder, was the Horse Master and Head Trainer during the filming of War Horse. Born in South Africa, he grew up in an equestrian family and he learned how to train horses for films in Los Angeles. He moved to the US following five years as the Stable Manager at Brentwood Parlk Stables, the largets eventing and jumping stables in South Africa.
Prior to War Horse Lovgren has trained horses for are “The Mask of Zorro”, “Seabiscuit”, “The Legend of Zorro” and “Racing Stripes” for which he was zebra trainer too!
Not only did Lovgren have to train Finder for the part, there were younger horses playing the part of Joey as he grew up and in early scenes in the film, Finder actually played Joey's mother because they needed a horse the foal would follow that would do scenes without restraints.
As is always the case when working with animals, the trainers faced a number of challenges and doubles were used for some of the scenes, that required the horses to behave in a spefic way. This meant that even the horses needed make-up to ensure they had the same markings.
A lot of work had to be done with the horses to get them used to the special effects for the battle scenes, such as the smoke and loud bangs. But if a horse was upset by the noise they would make sure they were filmed some way away.
Horses in World War I
An estmated five million horses were used by all the armies in World War I. One million were serving with the UK and Commonwealth forces. Many were seriously injured and died.
Throughout the First World War, armies were reliant on their horses and mules. They were used to carry supplies and ammunition, pull light artillery, wagons and ambulances, and to perform other important jobs, either on their own or in teams.
The heavier draught horses were used to pull the bigger canons but by the end of the war they had been replaced br tractors and large motor vehicles.