Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Stirring Drama from Spielberg

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Stirring Drama from Spielberg

Article excerpt

WAR HORSE (CERT 12, 140 MINS) Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, War/Drama/Action, also available to buy DVD pounds 17.99/Blu-ray pounds 21.99) Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Matt Milne, David Kross, Celine Buckens, Niels Arestrup.

ALCOHOL-soaked farmer Ted Narracott (Peter Mullan) pays over the odds for a foal called Joey to spite landlord Lyons (David Thewlis) when he is supposed to be buying a plough horse.

Long-suffering wife Rose (Emily Watson) despairs, wondering how they will pay the rent, while son Albert (Jeremy Irvine) promises to train the animal to work in the fields. When Europe goes to war, Ted sells Joey to Captain Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston).

Albert subsequently learns of tragedy on the battlefield and enlists in the Army with best friend Andrew (Matt Milne) to track down Joey and return the horse to the farm.

Meanwhile, behind enemy lines, Joey is captured by the Germans and embarks on a momentous journey in the company of a young soldier called Gunther (David Kross) and a French girl (Celine Buckens) and her grandfather (Niels Arestrup). Based on Michael Morpurgo's book, War Horse is a sweeping drama that harnesses director Steven Spielberg's virtuosity. The film-maker conjures some breathtaking images, such as the deaths of two characters by firing squad, which are obscured from view at the crucial moment by the tilting sail of a windmill.

Scenes in the trenches recall the pyrotechnic hell of Saving Private Ryan and a pivotal scene of Joey ensnared in barbed wire in no man's land during the Second Battle of The Somme is genuinely horrifying.

Irvine is an endearing, steadfast hero, willing to die for his beloved horse, and the supporting cast embraces the script's earthy humour and sentimentality. But the fourlegged stars canter away with our affections. …

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