Customer Review

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not one of Spielberg's best, 14 Jan. 2012
This review is from: War Horse [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
Michael Morpurgo wrote This classic children's story which found its way to the stage as an amazing play: now Stephen Spielberg has brought it to the big screen.

The story itself deals with the strength of equine and human spirits in the face of what are now the almost unimaginable privations of the First World War. Spielberg is well qualified to deal with such subjects: I have just finished watching The Pacific and it's interesting to make the comparison. Typically Spielbergian camera shots abound, the choreographing of the battlefield scenes is exquisite and the attention to military details is obvious. Nevertheless this is, unlike Saving Private Ryanfor instance, a family film and while it doesn't shy away from the nastiness of the war, it remains sensitive to its younger audience members. I did take exception to Albert's rather miraculous recovery from what must obviously have been a fairly light gassing and I wondered at the sight of a Devonshire infantry regiment going "over the top" to the accompaniment of the bagpipes.

While the camerawork is excellent, the same cannot be said of other aspects of the production, with some glaring continuity errors and some appaling lighting work with characters casting three or four shadows in many scenes. Perhaps I'm too harsh and younger viewers may not notice these things.

My wife observed that the film remained faithful to the original story and while some inevitable editing had taken place, the main story elements were preserved and there was little mucking about from the screenwriters. I however I felt that the film tended to lose the book's focus on Joey the horse and the film was as much, if not more, about the human characters (Albert in particular).

In the end, this is a decent piece of cinematic story telling, engaging, exciting and emotional. It is quite appropriate for younger viewers but they will need some adult help in understanding the issues raised. To a more critical eye however, it's clear that Spielberg took his eye off the ball with this one and it's by no means one of his best. I guess it will depend on the viewer but I found it to be a bit of a disappointment after the hype. My wife enjoyed it far more than I did.

And neither of us cried!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Jan 2013 19:54:32 GMT
This is the review I would have written; I liked the film well enough, but it's nothing exceptional. Well off Spielberg's best. Well put.
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