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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    War Horse–Galloping towards the Oscars

    Steven Spielberg’s talent really shows in “War Horse,” one of the big action movies with Oscar buzz this holiday season.  “War Horse,” based on a British children’s novel of the same name, is the heartfelt tale of a boy and his horse.  It has a common story with one giant twist—World War I.

    Let’s back up. A young English boy falls in love with a horse that, while beautiful, is simply too small, too rowdy and too expensive to keep. However, the boy’s love for the animal helps the horse accomplish the difficult job of plowing a field for much needed money.

    When World War I breaks out, the family sells the horse to the calvary.  The horse then makes an epic journey across Europe, switching hands among the Germans, French and British several times, (spoiler alert!) only to be reunited with the boy in the end.

    “War Horse” is a visually stunning movie even without hooking on to the 3D craze.  The landscapes are simply beautiful, the trenches more than believable, and the  scenes throw the audience right into the action.  One of the scenes that stands out the most is one in which the horse is running through the trenches while artillery is falling everywhere, jumps over a part of a trench and trips before regaining his footing, then falling headfirst into barbed wire.  The scene  looked incredible and very vivid.

    However, for all the good things I can say about this movie, I must address the major flaw. All the characters the horse meets are incredibly interesting (save the English boy), and the way he affects their lifes is interesting but the horse is not, which is a sad fact because the audience is stuck with him throughout the entirety of the 146-minute film.

    As far as human characters go , almost no emotional connections that can be made.  The English boy disappears around a quarter through the film, so that leave us with the other human characters the horse meets throughout his journey, most of whom are very likable but have the tendencies to die or disappear rather quickly and leave all of their storylines incomplete.

    From the clever French girl and her protective yet kind grandfather, to the trustworthy and virtuous English Calvary officer, to the witty German. I wanted to know these characters more, but they were either dead or gone before I could. In fact, the only human characters we get a real perspective on are the boy and his father, who were both rather dull in comparison to the rest of the cast.

    This is not to say this movie doesn’t have moments that leave an impression.  My favorite such moment is when a British and a German soldier both get out from their respective trenches to help save the horse.  As they cut the horse free, they discuss women and the niceties of life as if, for one brief moment, they can forget about being enemies.  The film has quite a few moments like this that are undeniably human and very touching.

    “War Horse” is a good movie, but it ends up being a bit disappointing, missing out on the really interesting plotlines and characters to follow one which is rather familiar.  Nonetheless, it was probably Steven Spielberg’s best movie since
    “True Grit” and definitely has potential to win an Oscar or two.

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