Spielberg’s “War Horse” is terrific, moving epic

Movie Review

War Horse

Co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg

Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski

Cast: Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, Emily Watson, Tom Hiddleston

Rated PG-13, 146 minutes, www.warhorsemovie.com

Whether you like him or not, you have to envy Steven Spielberg. Despite his many years of top movie making, he’s never lost touch with the viewer’s inner child. There was unusual applause at the end of the showing we attended. There couldn’t have been a dry eye in the house, and the lumps in our throats were big enough to, well, choke a horse.

Don’t be put off by the obvious plot of “boy meets horse, boy loses horses, boy gets horse back,” because there’s a lot more to this film. It would be difficult to find any war movie that conveys the terror, the shame, and the pain of modern warfare better.

The horse ties together an epic story of ordinary English, French, and the German people caught up in the awful disaster of World War One. Each of the subplots would have made a decent regular length movie, but stitched together they make a great tapestry of war and misery.

One might expect a horse movie that takes place in WWI to pontificate a bit about how mechanization and modern weapons replaced whatever people might have thought was romantic about heroic equestrians charging toward the enemy. One couldn’t anticipate, however, the full effect that Spielberg blasts at the viewer without a single word of excuse or explanation. 

Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski and the new digital technology deserve a lot of credit for one of the most breathtaking films seen recently.

 “War Horse” is simply a terrific war movie that makes its statements graphically and through sensitive portrayals, whether in actual battle scenes or not.

Even though the film was shot in England, there is an IATSE union bug in the last frame.

Photo: Still from film.