Warhorse (2011)

Directv and tropical storms don't mix, so we threw on a DVD last night and really enjoyed Warhorse (2011). It's a charming blend of sentimentality and craft, and it certainly tugs at the heart strings. Steven Spielberg applies an even hand to the pacing, and it moves fluidly through Joey's birth and the four long years of war that comprise the bulk of the narrative.

There are some beautiful shots in this picture. I particularly enjoyed the perspective shot of Joey through the corral gate, and also the reflection of Emily in the horse's eye when she discovers these beautiful animals in her grandfather's windmill.

The battle scenes aren't altogether effective, although the visual of the equine casualties after that first fatal charge is arresting. That's a small quibble, though. I really enjoyed the writing, overall. That scene of cooperation between the English and the German was brilliant, and I loved Emily's precocious banter with her grandfather. The economic dynamics of Albert's family were important to the story, but Hall and Curtis don't dwell on those problems in their screenplay. As it should be, the story is all about the love an animal can inspire among his human counterparts, and the ability for strong emotional bonds to carry living creatures through impossible hardships.

Spielberg uses filters to create emotion, juxtaposing gritty, washed-out grays with pretty sepia tones in the final act, which is a fine homecoming. It's a striking film visually.

The film didn't win any of its six Oscar nominations, but the AFI gave it 2011's Movie of the Year award, and it's much deserved. This is an 'A' film, and well worth your time and attention...

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