War Horse

War Horse (film)

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve just got in from seeing War Horse, so I thought I would post a review while it’s still fresh in my mind.

The film is set in Iddisleigh, a picturesque village in Devon not far from my better half’s place of origin. The scenery is absolutely stunning, and equally well matched by the soaring, classical soundtrack. Some of the action scenes are mind-blowing, particularly the cavalry charges. The battle scenes are not as bloody as say Band of Brothers or the Pacific, but I don’t really think that they needed to be horrific for the sake of it.

In historical terms, there were perhaps a few bloopers. The german accents are almost laughable, and I can’t think for the life of me why Spielberg didn’t make them sound better. And in the final scenes in France all kinds of random men in random units seem to mingle together freely, which seems a bit unrealistic. But apart from that, it seemed to ring true for the most part. It IS a completely unrealistic story – but then that is the beauty of a novel, it doesn’t have to be absolutely realistic, and we can forgive a little historic or artisitic licence if it serves the story.

My performing arts student girlfriend tells me that there isn’t any particularly great acting, in fact the real star of the film is/are the horse(s). This film is very much an epic rather than a drama. That said, there are some very touching moments – apart from the final reunion scene, when the main equine protagonist becomes entangled in barbed wire is likely to move even the most cynical of hearts.

Whenever a new war film or programme comes out, you can guarantee that there will be scores of internet ‘experts’, bemoaning the inaccuracies and claiming the moral high ground. Sure, no war film is ever 100% accurate. But they can never be – no one really dies in a war film, surely? We need to look beyond the historical inaccuracies of incorrect shoulder titles or weapons. They might matter to us geeks, but in the bigger picture a film like War Horse has got thousands of people interested in the First World War, which is something that no manner of scholarly articles or mediocre books will achieve. Neither geeks, enthusiasts nor academics have any universal ownership of war. War is a human experience that touches everyone when it occurs, so it is the right of everyone to be interested by it.

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21 Comments

Filed under western front, World War One

21 responses to “War Horse

  1. You know what one of my most favourite World War 2 movies is? “Kelly’s Heroes”. Rife with inaccuracies, laughable storyline, some truly hideous acting (especially among the Germans), but a totally hilarious and enjoyable romp. Sure, I love the highly detailed and accurate movies, but sometimes you can forgive a heck of a lot for a movie that captures your attention and takes you on an enjoyable journey.
    I’d love to see it in a theatre (cinema?), but I can’t afford it, so I’ll have to wait for pay cable TV to show it. C’est la guerre! :D

    • Brian Iddon

      Great film Kellys Heroes.The T-34 based tigers are especially bad.
      If you want to see a really bad war film watch the Battle Of The Bulge.Saw it for the first time in years recently and it really is the worst war film i’ve ever seen.In a way it’s so bad it’s good.

      • Sorry, Brian, I gotta rate “Battle Of The Bulge” as so bad it’ HORRIBLE! :D I just LOVE the rolling gasoline drums for the climax – so completely inaccurate. That, and the damaged Chaffee still rolling around after an 88mm hit. Yeah, right! (I could forgive using M-24s for Shermans and M-48s for Tigers – I forgave them in “Patton”, after all. ;) )

  2. Brian Iddon

    The Tank Museum at Bovington have bought the MKIV replica that appeared in this film.They have allegedly paid £150,000 for it which doesn’t seem too bad really.My ‘source’ also says that it’s 90% the size of the real thing.I don’t know why this would be so.The only thing i can think of is that things apparently appear bigger on film so if you make something a bit smaller in real life that will in theory make them look the correct size on film.
    I’ve left a comment on the TM page on Facebook asking if it’s true but so far haven’t had a reply.

    • James Daly

      I heard that they had bought it, but I hadn’t heard how much they had paid for it. If you compare that to what some Museums have paid for paintings and art, it’s not that much.

      I suppose if it is almost full size, and in operation, it will be pretty useful to them for their Tank Days. I know they have a small number of WW1 tanks, but the celebrity status of this one will be a good publicity coup. In fact the press alone that they have had from it is probably worth five figures alone.

      • Brian Iddon

        It could be a very smart buy considering the anniversary of WW1 and the centenary of the tank will soon be here.They could make a nice little sum out of the numerous films and documentaries that will no doubt appear.
        If they can get this and the Tiger running at this years Tankfest then they should have a bumper show.

        • James Daly

          The TM have always been one of the more forward thinking and astute military museums. If you compare them to some of the stuffy, dusty old museums around, then there really is no comparison. I think a lot of their success comes from them being proactive, I guess that is a cultural thing as the Tank itself has been about change for most of its existence.

  3. On the related topic of war horses from other wars, here’s a link an artist friend of mine forwarded to me. Enjoy!

    http://www.coolestone.com/media/3069/Sgt-Reckless—Korean-War-Horse-Hero/

  4. Not seen the film yet, saw the play and the use of ‘puppets’ for the horses was fantastic and lifted the play above the normal level. As for bad war films I always feel that as soon as a director gets into the Pacific theatre accuracy goes out the window so John Wayne’s various battles against the Japanese, whether on land or sea, are often pretty unbelievable in all senses.
    As for a best war film I would go for ‘Twelve O’clock High’ with Gregory Peck turning around a failing USAAF bomber group.

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