'War Horse'

On Thursday, the boys and I went to see ‘War Horse’.

I have long wanted to go see the stage show but the prices of theatre tickets, not to mention the cost of the 3 of us going up to London, is somewhat daunting. Doesn’t stop me hoping to, one day, still go… In the meantime, I thought the movie could tide us over ;o)

Even though I have the book, I made a point of not reading it so I could immerse myself completely in the story; I’m one of those who prefers not knowing how a story, be it book or movie, will end. To begin with, it was only going to be Liam and me going as Gordon didn’t seem that interested. But, after giving it some thought and realising that there isn’t much ‘out there’ about the First World War, in book or movie form, he decided to come too. Besides, he said, there had to be at least one ‘toughie’ there to support Liam and me, who’d no doubt be blubbing!

I shan’t say too much about the plot, but we enjoyed it. The only human you do empathise with, in my opinion, is Albert, who raises the horse, Joey. The story in the book is told from Joey’s point of view, but we don’t have Joey doing the voiceover in the film (thank heavens!). Instead the story around each human he interacts with forms a mini-plot, as it were. And where I think it works is that Joey, being a horse, is non-judgmental, so you don’t really ‘take sides’ – he’s just with the person, be they English, French or German.

Some critics and movie-goers have criticised the film for being too ‘clean’, but the scenes in the trenches and ‘no man’s land’ were pretty filthy; the only thing lacking is any ‘in-your-face’ blood and gore and blowing up of people/animals. But you don't need all that to get the message across about the horrors of war, which, again in my opinion, the film does manage to do. At their ages, my two are aware of what war is about and some of their games are set in war-zones, but this was enough for them to realise the horrific reality that was the First World War.

Another criticism was about the village where Albert and his family live – apparently it’s too ‘chocolate-boxy’. And yet, we were shown how difficult life is for them, as tenant farmers. And I think the prettiness of the village and ‘life back home’ contrasted sharply with the war zone, where everything seemed to be various shades of grey and black. Even Joey, who’s chestnut with white feet and blaze, was basically black, he was so covered with mud.

I did have a little weep here and there during the film; I noticed Liam root around for his tissue at one point … and there was one scene, which has been shown in the trailers, where Joey is running through ‘no man’s land’ on his own, which really set me off – if I hadn’t had my tissue jammed up against my mouth, I would have been sobbing loudly. And the ‘toughie’ who came to support us – I turned to Gordon at the end of the film and he had tears running down his face!!!