This basically sums up the commercials that viewers may encounter when sitting back from watching their regularly-scheduled programming for a while now. The questions that may cross their minds about a film garnering Oscar buzz may be “How can you rally a film around a horse?” or “What will this horse do that is aside from what a regular horse does in any other movie?”
They are both very good questions, and thankfully, the short answers to these two questions is “You can indeed,” and “Nothing, unless you consider captivating your heart something new.”
Despite the oddly-promoted film that will likely not captivate moviegoers at first (other than the horse-lovers among them), this film will capture all hearts.
The trademark here is director Steven Spielberg’s ability to tug at the heartstrings and tear ducts by delivering a heartfelt film.
The film takes on the serious matter of World War I, but Spielberg is capable of making the first half of a scene extremely sad and then turning it joyous in the latter half. It is not an easy feat, but it is done in this film.
War Horse, an adaptation of the children's book and the Broadway show based on the same book, utilizes composer John Williams’ score to its fullest extent. As Spielberg and Williams have done for over 40 years, Williams’ music to match every major event is always a delight to hear and I could not imagine another composer’s work used on the film.
The film is spotted with unknowns like Jeremy Irvine portraying titular character Albert Narracott as well as established ones like Emily Watson as his mother and David Thewlis as the Lyons, the antagonist for the first quarter of the film. Regardless, the humans put in good turns and as the War Horse Joey intersects British, French, and German lives, he is capable of bringing out the best in everybody.
As always, Steven Spielberg tapped Janusz Kamiński to film this flick and he is able to beautifully capture the wide-open landscape during the good-old times while giving you the constricted feeling that is the entrenched warfare in WWI. The sunset at the end? Fantastic. And yes, it’s real. They saw that for three days and decided to use it.
Putting aside the odd promotional material here, this story is really about a horse, the several friends he makes along the way, and the boy that was there for him all along, portraying the value of friendship and determination.
If you decide to go, and you balled your eyes out at Toy Story 3, you may want to bring tissues. A whole box.