War Horse

I broke a cardinal rule before taking my entire family to see War Horse earlier this month. I did not bother to watch a single trailer or even read a synopsis of the movie. And, no, the name War Horse did not even tip me off. It’s been *that* kind of a semester. So, yes, I took my 12, 11, 9, and 8 year old girls to see a movie about war. And horses. And war. And I didn’t realize I was doing it. I just thought, “It’s Steven Spielberg, for cryin’ out loud, it’s going to be awesome!” I kind of forgot about the Saving Private Ryan side of Steven Spielberg and was focused very narrowly on the ET side of him. You might see where this is going.

And my justification for ignoring the not-so-subtle hint in the title of the movie? Seabiscuit. That movie was not about biscuits on the sea. It was about a race horse. So in my warped mind I thought we were going to watch a family friendly movie about a race horse named War Horse.

Here’s my first disclaimer: While watching the movie on the big screen, I was kicking myself multiple times for taking my girls to see it. But here we sit almost four weeks later and I can’t say I’m sorry we did that anymore.

Picture 22
Immediately after watching the movie I tried to sum it up for my friends by calling it a mash-up of Saving Private Ryan and My Friend Flicka. How in the world? But it’s still kind of that way in my mind. It’s a sweet, sweet, hard, hard story of a boy and a horse. And let’s not forget the war, but at the core, it’s about the boy and the horse.

I don’t want to give away the movie for those of you planning to see it this week. I’ll just throw out this little word of caution: Consider that the war scenes are fairly brutal. Not nearly as brutal as some movies, but if you are taking young kids with you, this is a consideration best made on the front end. I’m not sorry my children saw the movie, but hindsight tells me that my two youngest would have been better served by watching it as a DVD on our small TV instead of in the theater.

My 12yo, however, seems to have been deeply impacted by the movie. She sobbed like a baby several times throughout and when the credits rolls, announced it to be the best movie she’d ever seen.

Here are the official specs:

  • Genre: Drama
  • Rating: PG-13
  • U.S. Release date: December 25, 2011
  • Running time: 146 minutes
  • Cast: Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irvine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Kebbell
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Producers: Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy
  • Executive Producers: Frank Marshall, Revel Guest
  • Screenplay by: Lee Hall and Richard Curtis

Based on the book by: Michael Morpurgo and the recent stage play by Nick Stafford, originally produced by the National Theatre of Great Britain and directed by Tom Morris and Marianne Elliot

DreamWorks Pictures’ “War Horse,” director Steven Spielberg’s epic adventure, is a tale of loyalty, hope and tenacity set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War. “War Horse” begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets—British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter—before the story reaches its emotional climax in the heart of No Man’s Land.

The First World War is experienced through the journey of this horse—an odyssey of joy and sorrow, passionate friendship and high adventure. “War Horse” is one of the great stories of friendship and war— a successful book, it was turned into a hugely successful international theatrical hit that is currently on Broadway. It now comes to screen in an epic adaptation by one of the great directors in film history.


War Horse. It opens December 25, 2011. Merry Christmas.

Disclosure: Tickets were provided for my family to attend. No other compensation was received.