A story of friendship between a boy and a horse… It’s a little cheesy, yes. But unlike the sterile New Year’s Eve, this is good old fashioned melting cheese that actually complements the story. That is because is War Horse, there is truth and soul and Steven Spielberg makes it feel genuine. He makes us travel through a war that was unfair and unforgiving, a war where the gentle and innocent didn’t survive. This is shown through the most candid and unbiased eyes of all, those of a horse, Joey. He shows us that no matter what side one is on (English or German, army or civilian), the cruelty of the war affects everyone. In the end, love and friendship are the only redeeming values that remains, that give both people and horses their drive and save Joey in the end.
The characters of the story all feel slightly too one-dimensional but that is because they all serve one purpose and generally have limited screen time. However, they are so well drawn out and well acted that their fates are often heartbreaking.
The cinematography and mise-en-scène are sumptuous. They make the war scenes appear at times eery, overwhelming or terrifying in opposition to the generally peaceful village where Joey and Albert (Jeremy Irvine) become friends.
Occasional touches of humour lighten the film which, unlike the beginning of Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998) is never shocking or explicitly violent. War Horse is simply a positive film that will be a pleasure to watch as you reflect on the value of humanity and how too much of it was wasted in war.