Bright scenes give ‘Horse’ artistic image

Jeff Powers

I must admit that I was skeptical about the film “War Horse” before seeing it. I had reservations about how a kid-friendly Disney project would portray World War I, one of the most gruesome conflicts in history.

I also thought maybe the movie would be a sappy tear-jerker playing on the audience’s love of animals.

In what was a pleasant surprise, the movie was not overly-sappy or immature and did not sugarcoat the conflict in which it was set. This film managed to be both thoroughly heart-warming and brutally heart-wrenching all at the same time.

The film’s plot centers on a young thoroughbred and his relationship with the young poor boy who raised him. At least that’s the most important part of the twisting plot.

The horse, named Joey, is sold to an Army officer at the outset of the war and from that point on travels through the conflict in the service of nearly every Army involved.

During this journey, Joey becomes the steed of many different masters; including the British officer, two young German soldiers, a young French girl and a merciless French officer.

While the plot flows well, it is a little repetitive. Each new master Joey meets is in the film for only a short period of time. With each master, the audience is just beginning to feel an emotional connection when the horse is taken away. It makes it frustrating to follow at times.

The film was directed by Steven Spielberg. Everyone knows Spielberg has been responsible for some of the most memorable films in the past three decades. His direction in this movie lives up to those standards, but it doesn’t surpass it.

The film featured many things I expected from a Disney movie. It had bright young actors. It was, at times, filled with moral lessons. It definitely had the look of a Disney picture. Each scene has perfect resolution, almost too perfect.

The cinematography is great; however, in some cases it would have almost paid for the image to be dirtier. I suffered from slight cases of sensory overload with the brightness and clarity of colors at times.

That being said, I must say the final scene of the movie features this extremely high resolution picture, along with very bold coloration, and it is honestly one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen.

There is no dialogue; it’s pure, raw emotion. The color is perfect. The lighting and shadows are phenomenal and create breath taking silhouettes. This scene could single-handedly can be credited with earning the movie many of the accolades given to the film.

The film before this final scene is above average, but with this one remarkable scene it becomes very good.

I enjoyed the acting as a whole. Jeremy Irvin, who played the young boy, Albert, did a very good job portraying a young man’s undying love for the animal. His emotions were very real and rarely over the top.

I also enjoyed both the roles of the boy’s father and of the landlord who is the early antagonist, played respectively by Peter Mullan and David Thewlis.

Their interactions early in the film were very convincing. They were constantly at odds with each other and played it out nicely.

I give a lot of credit to the animal trainers that worked on this film. I’ve never seen animals with as much personality on film as I did in “War Horse.”

The film was able to develop rather deep emotional characterization with these animals. It was great to see. The main trainer was Bobby Lovgren, and he did an amazing job.

I really appreciated the responsibility the film took with its portrayal of World War I. It would have been easy for it to have turned into a very childish version of the events. Except for a few small instances, it was an accurate representation.

This film surpassed my expectations. It was artistic. Art is a hard thing to find at the movies these days.