War Horse
Entertainment: +4
Acceptability: +3

Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis. Epic adventure. Written by Richard Curtis, Lee Hall, Directed by Steven Spielberg.

FILM SYNOPSIS: War Horse begins as a boy-and-his-horse movie, then progresses into a WWI epic tale, as the animal affects the lives of several people.

PREVIEW REVIEW: When I say this is the best horse movie I ever saw, keep in mind Ė Iíve seen them all. From National Velvet to Black Beauty, from The Red Pony to The Black Stallion, from Seabiscuit to Secretariat, Iíve seen them and loved them. (Can't help it, I love movies about horses, dogs and girls Ė not necessarily in that order.) But War Horse has a deeper level. It has an allegorical dimension. Itís not just a boy-and-his-horse movie. Or, a girl-and-her-horse movie. Or, a story of fathers and sons. Or one about wartime comrades. It is a film that reveals the link between us all.

Mr. Spielbergís love of movies is quite evident, with visual tributes to How Green Was My Valley, All Quiet on the Western Front, and Gone With the Wind, as well as a couple of the horse movies previously mentioned. Whether these recognitions came consciously or subconsciously, the images reveal the influence of countless viewings of classics during the filmmakerís cinematic matriculation. And weíre the better for it.

I guess what truly makes this a wonderful movie-going experience is the fact that the film is guileless, totally devoid of cynicism, an ingredient that dominates far too many releases garnering Oscar attention. As well as beckoning us back into the family fold of mankind, Spielberg also takes us out of CGI-governed storytelling, back to the days when story and character were the lead characters, not the filmís special effects.

Warning, while the film contains no objectionable language or crudity, there are several battle scenes, (though kept within the PG-13 range), and the discussed deaths of a couple of lead characters may be disturbing for little ones. This isnít Misty or My Friend Flicka. Itís a moving parable for teens and grownups.

Not enough can be said about the look of War Horse. The cinematography, the lighting, the set and art direction are as good as any film Iíve ever seen. Though episodic, there is a continuity that flows gently and holds the storylines together effortlessly. An action adventure in tone, there are also some very touching moments, including one where a German and an English soldier put their weapons down in order to achieve a higher purpose. Their remarks as they head back to their own units, having rescued the filmís namesake, brought more than one tear to my eyes. Itís one of those moments in movies you wonít forget.

The director of Schindlerís List and Saving Private Ryan has given us a perfect movie. Indeed, it is a triumph, a work of art.

Now on Blu-Ray and DVD, the 4-Disc combo pack includes several bonus features, including discussions with the director and others involved in the making of this Oscar-nominated classic-to-be.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: DreamWorks

Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: None
Violence: Though the battles are shot within the PG-13 range, there are several of them and in one scene, we see the dead bodies of men and mounts; a frustrated farmer threatens to shoot the horse; the horse is injured, but there is a happy ending. A little blood, but nothing is grotesque or gruesome.
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other: In fear of his life, a soldier running to aid the horse quotes Psalm 23. There are also other quotes made to honor the existence of God.
Running Time: 140 minutes
Intended Audience: Older kids and up

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