Words by Yazen-Al-Salman
“War Horse” is a kind-hearted epic that is mainly about nostalgia. Steven Spielberg uses his entire artistic armory to bring us an adult film for all ages. It’s a big, bold, emotional movie about war and growing up. Spielberg homages his idols, the likes of John Ford and Akira Kurosawa, to tell a story without the shackles of modern cynism.
Jeremy Irvine, a great find, stars as Albert, a young boy living in a farm in Devon. His father buys a plow horse and the horse (named Joey) and Albert form a special bond. Later, though, Joey is bought by the Army and taken the to the battlefields of World War 1 in France. There, circumstances get Joey under different masters, including German soldiers, and French farmers.
In trying to homage Ford, Spielberg becomes Ford. Every character in this film is clearly seen and expertly cast. It reminded me of Ford’s great film “The Searchers”. Both movies have characters that talk and act in a certain way; they all have a personality. Spielberg uses them to look at the kind of people that lived at the time. WW1 was mainly fought by farmers and rural people. Spielberg sees their kindness and close relationship with land and beast. And sees them so well. All the people Joey meets on his Journey come from this background. The film does not plainly say it, but hints at it. This a film of great impact and perception.