War Horse is a movie about two things: a war and a horse. The war part, as expected from a director like Steven Spielberg, is absolutely epic. That explains why the film received Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Set Design. Some of the scenes, like the charge through a German camp, are so spectacularly shot that all you can do is sit back in awe.
Then there's the part about the horse. We've seen so many movies in this genre that I had my doubts about seeing another one. Those doubts proved valid when the movie started out with all the regular clichés. Boy meets horse. World says horse will never be controlled. Boy's love for horse somehow tames the beast. Really? Again?
An interesting turn
But then things take an interesting turn. The boy's father, a drunkard on the verge of losing the family farm, sells the stallion to the army at the start of World War I. The movie then chronicles the horse's journey as it goes from one person to another, touching young and old on both sides of the battle. Somehow, this animal (played by 14 different horses) manages to bring out the best in who they are.
It's during these scenes that the movie begins yanking at your heartstrings. Add to this the soaring music by John Williams (also nominated for an Oscar) and it ends up feeling a little schmaltzy. And yet, once you've sat through almost two-and-a-half hours and eventually get to the inevitable reunions, you'll probably have a tear in your eye and a lump in your throat. Yes, we've seen it all many times before, but War Horse still gets to you. Surrender and enjoy.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Running Time: 2 hours, 26 minutes Age Restriction: 13M (horses and human in peril)
Eugene graduated from the University of Cape Town with distinctions in financial accounting and classical piano. He then spent over two-and-half years working in branding and communications at two of South Africa's top market research companies. Eugene also spent over three-and-a-half years at an eLearning start-up, all while building his business as an award-winning writer.
Visit www.eugeneyiga.com, follow @eugeneyiga on Twitter, or email moc.agiyenegue@olleh to say, um, hello.