Posted by: on Jan 24, 2012 | No Comments

For me, going to see Steven Spielberg’s new blockbuster was especially exciting. Why?  It’s because a large part of the film was shot only a few minutes from my Devon home, on Dartmoor.  More than anything, I was dying to see the Westcountry countryside on the big screen.  I didn’t know much about the story at all and I certainly was not prepared for the sheer power of the film, both cinematically and emotionally.

Set just before and during the First World War, War Horse is the story of a beautiful horse named Joey.  Bought on a whim, by a poverty- stricken farmer, Joey manages to overcome obstacles that nobody thought possible.  He ploughs the farm- land before being sold to the army at the start of the Great War.  Joey survives the war, always playing an important role, being passed from owner to owner.  Finally he is reunited with his trainer, Albie and they both return to Devon to continue their life on the farm.

It is a beautiful film.  The shots of my beloved Devon countryside truly show off the isolated idyll that it is.  In contrast, Spielberg manages to capture the horrors of World War I in a scarily vivid way.  At times, it is like being inside a Wilfred Owen poem.  The sounds of shells echo throughout, many scenes show upsetting death and suffering and the harshness of life in the trenches is harrowing.  This coupled with Joey’s brave loyalty to the war set off many a tear in the audience.  Joey’s suffering is also captured and for me the most disturbing scene was the horse getting trapped in barbed wire in No man’s land, waiting to either die or to be rescued.

The main protagonist Albert, played by Jeremy Irvine is so believable in his love for Joey and his dedication to training him in order to rescue his father from his debts.  He is so strongly attached to the horse, but never soppy.  You can’t help but long for them to be reunited.  It’s just a shame about his Devon accent, it wasn’t quite convincing enough for a true Devon girl.

Joey is of course, the star of the show, as he should be.  Played by several different horses and at times aided by computer- generated images, Joey looks fabulous at all times, even when he is injured nearly to the point of death.  You don’t have to be a horse lover to fall in love with Joey.

So. To sum it up, War Horse has more war factor than horse factor. It is a war film with a horse in it, rather than a film about a horse that takes place in a war.  However it is a must see.  Prepare to be blown away by the scenery, the recreation of a terrible war and most importantly the beauty of Joey.  Don’t forget to bring your tissues!