Friday, July 06, 2012

War Horse

Dear Tara:
I'm writing you this letter because I just saw War Horse, the Steven Spielberg-directed movie. The source is a well-known book and a play, which, I understand, is staged in a phenomenal way. You, as a horse-woman and horse-lover, might've seen this movie already.
I absolutely loved it. What I really loved about it, well, it's several-fold. It all takes place in World War I, a war I have never heard much about. So the movie sheds some light on how that war was fought -- differently from any other war in history, with new-fangled weapons like automatic guns meeting old-fashioned ones like bayonets, and trench warfare with the possibility of being gassed, a most horrible way to die or even live after the fact.
And Spielberg's movie doesn't paint this war as the one your mother loved: it's a nasty, child-killing, hope-destroying, senseless sort of activity. The perfect war movie.
The horse sees many different owners, as it's sold to a British cavalry officer as the war is just beginning. On and on we watch the person who picks up on the horse. Except for the beginning story of Alby (short for Albert), the young man who is too young for war at the time the story begins, who falls in love with this horse, just as we do, because of his spirit and unwillingness to be dominated.
But the beauty of these stories is that they're not very long. They're actually very short stories, cradled by Alby's yearning to be reunited with his Joey.
And the enemy -- the krauts, the jerries, the Fritzes: the Germans -- are not portrayed badly. In most cases, they're shown as victims of the war, just as the Brits are. And in many of these instances, they're kids as well. Your heart goes out to all the victims of this seemingly senseless war.
So, Tara, I highly recommend this movie. However, I must warn you: it's rough on the horse. In fact, I don't know how Spielberg worked out some of those stunts with Joey. I'm thinking it's CGI, because no one would hurt that horse deliberately, even to film a beautiful movie such as this. But that's hard to watch. It's hard to watch this magnificent creature go through such physical and emotional hardships.
Several friends have refused to watch it -- Ruth, Elly, Dawn -- because they can't watch a horse mistreated. Ruth even told me that her first pre-teen trainer was a WWI cavalry man, and that he said unspeakable things happen to horses in the cavalry. That memory stopped her from seeing War Horse right there. So I'm wondering if you can stomach it, have the heart for it, or can stand to have your heart dimmed just a bit as you watch it. If you can, it's quite a story.
Thumb's up.


At 10:16 AM, Blogger Dawn Kepler said...

You are correct. I will NEVER see this film. Horse caught in barbed wire? No interest.


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