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War Horse: Movie Review

Hannah Goodwyn


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Veteran filmmaker Steven Spielberg creates a beautiful picture of the love between a boy and his beloved horse in his newest live-action film release, War Horse.

Based on a play that was based on Michael Morpurgo's book, War Horse is a powerful war epic made captivatingly personal. It’s simply about the journey of a boy and his horse during the tumultuous years of World War I Europe.

Starring a who’s who of up-and-coming British actors and theatrical veterans,Spielberg's film is a sweeping cinematic adventure that will stir the hearts of teenagers and adults alike this holiday season.


Young Albert is thrilled when he’s chosen to train his family’s new horse, which he names Joey. But, life for him and Joey is forever changed as the British cavalry comes to their small town enlisting soldiers and horses for service in the First World War. Joey’s adventures and struggles – as he rides for the British forces, is taken by German soldiers, cared for by a young French girl – are met with a hopeful longing to be with Albert again. Coming of age, Albert enlists in the war to find his beloved horse to bring him home.


From the first moments, War Horse makes you feel like you’re about to embark on an epic adventure. Your guide is Joey, played by multiple horses, which are all filmed showing the most magnificent expressions, giving real emotion to his character. Do not expect this film to be fast-paced. Go in expecting you will witness great storytelling, and you will not be disappointed.

Director Steven Spielberg is a master cinematic storyteller and his crew and cast’s talents aren’t lost in War Horse. Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, whom has worked on all of Spielberg’s live-action films since Schindler’s List, beautifully captures the emotion of each moment. Composer John Williams musically captures the story's essence and screenwriters Lee Hall and Richard Curtis put the right words to the action.

War Horse is at its purest form is the portrayal of an unbreakable friendship with the dramatic backdrop of a war that is often overlooked in cinema. Spielberg creatively crafts this movie in such a ways as to show the utter desolation of war without making it unbearable to watch. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of war violence, War Horse is not for young children. But, the director’s clever filming of the war scenes keep it from the R level and appropriate viewing for pre-teens and older.

The cast of War Horse is to be commended. Spielberg did well in casting inexperienced actor Jeremy Irvine in the lead role, as Albert. His performance brought a believability to the love between his character and Joey. Actors Emily Watson and Peter Mullan convincingly play Albert’s discouraged parents. Two secondary actors of note are Tom Hiddleston, whom moviegoers may recognize as Thor’s evil brother Loki from this summer’s blockbuster, and Toby Kebbell, who plays a Geordie solider during one of the film’s critical scenes. Though only on screen for a portion of the film, Hiddleston delivers a memorable performance as the charming Capt. Nichols, Joey’s caretaker during his cavalry days. Kebbell also completely engages your attention as the soldier who risks his life entering No Man’s Land to save Joey. His reciting of Psalm 23 and the incredible set design, lighting, and filming of that scene make it one of the most emotional moments of the movie.


Watching War Horse will remind you what it is is like to experience a film that is good on all accounts. The acting, script, set direction, photography and musical score all contribute to making War Horse one of the year’s best movies.

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About The Author


Hannah Goodwyn served as a Senior Producer for, managing and writing for the award-winning website. After her undergraduate studies at Christopher Newport University, Hannah went on to study Journalism at the graduate level. In 2005, she graduated summa cum laude with her Master's from Regent University and was honored with an Outstanding Student Award. From there, Hannah began work as a content producer for For ten years, she acted as the managing producer for the website's Family and Entertainment sections. A movie buff, Hannah felt right at home working as's