Memorial Day is getting closer and many folks are placing flags on the graves of soldiers who died serving their country. Many of them served during the Vietnam War, which was featured in yesterday’s column which reviewed “We Were Soldiers.” For a film about soldiers of a different war, there is 2011’s “War Horse.” This movie is based on a book by Michael Morpurgo, which was also made into a stage play. It reminds the audience that humans were not the only victims of war.
The impact of World War I on Europe is the focus of “War Horse.” It follows the life of a young man, Albert Naracott (played by Jeremy Irvine), who lives a simple life on a remote farm. His parents are Ted (played by Peter Mullan) and Rose (played by Emily Watson). One day, Ted, who spends more time in bars than he should, buys a horse, which angers Rose since they needed the money for rent. Young Albert becomes very close to the horse, Joey, and trains him so that he is soon a mix of a good farm horse with the skills of a race horse as well. Unfortunately, Joey has to be sold to the British army. Of course, this devastates Albert. The film follows Joey as he goes through several owners during the war. Eventually, Albert becomes a soldier in the war, and he still hopes he will see his horse again.
“War Horse” is expertly directed by Steven Spielberg, who is better known for his films about World War II. In his hands, “War Horse” is visually stunning. Also, Spielberg does an effective job staging the battle sequences.
The cast is impressive. Jeremy Irvine is quite good as Albert. He does a solid job showing how he becomes attached to Joey. Emily Watson is equally strong as his mom, who has a complex relationship with her husband. And then there are the horses…
For fans of Steven Spielberg, “War Horse” is an excellent choice for Memorial Day weekend.