Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” Gives New Meaning to Man’s Best Friend
The movie is based off Michael Morpurgo’s children’s novel War Horse, published in 1982. The novel is one of five children’s books dealing with war that appeared in an exhibition called Once Upon a Wartime at the Imperial War Museum in London that ran from February 11 to October 30, 2011.
From the very first scene of this WWI adaptation, Spielberg’s cliché scene could almost be laughable if it wasn’t done so well. Watching a newborn colt struggle to his feet, Spielberg had no shame tugging at the heart strings right from the start.
As the plot falls into place, Ted Narracott (Peter Mullan), a poor farmer, buys Joey at an auction, even though he was intending to buy a plough horse for his farm. Ted’s son, Albert (Jeremy Irvine), is automatically drawn to the horse. The remarkable bond that Joey and Albert share is apparent from the beginning. It is almost forcibly drilled into the audience’s brain.
The two overcome memorable obstacles that touch the sensitive spot of animal lovers everywhere. From training Joey to come when Albert whistles, to teaching Joey how to plough, Joey is seen as a ‘Miracle Horse.’
After a rainstorm destroys the family’s turnips, Ted is forced to sell Joey to the British Calvary to help pay off his overdue rent.
Enlisting in the military, a devastated Albert follows Joey on an incredible journey across the English countryside. Along the way, Joey changes and inspires the lives of everyone he comes in contact with; British and German soldiers, even a French farmer and his granddaughter.
The novel’s 1st person point of view proved no challenge to Spielberg, who took a 3rd person perspective, following Joey -the thoroughbred foal‘s- journey throughout the well scripted realities of World War I, having the same the effect as the novel did on the audience, leaving them speechless.
Despite minor differences likely attributed to time restraints, the overall adaptation from novel to movie was successful. The actors that were cast hit their notes perfectly, capturing the right emotions at the right times.
Irvine couldn’t have done any better. He made scenes soft and memorable, shaping to the script like it truly was his own words. His career debut in War Horse has landed him a spot right on the red carpet, and it is expected to see him in more hits to come, such as the character Pip in Great Expectations coming to theatres later this year.
From a successful book, to an international theatrical hit on Broadway, to a now heart warming film, War Horse brings the right combination of joy, sorrow, friendship, and action that Peter Travers of Rolling Stone says is “heartfelt and marvelously crafted.”