My family had the opportunity to see a special preview of the upcoming movie, War Horse, that is coming out on December 25th. Recommended by a homeschool association, we were excited to go to a movie for the first time before it was officially out, and to enjoy an interesting plot with good themes.
Good movies involve character transformation. Either within the main character, a formerly evil person, or some antagonist, but some sort of character transformation must be evident. Without this you wonder what makes the end different from the beginning. War Horse had no apparent character transformation. Albert is not depicted any different at the beginning and end, and neither is anyone else. This movie was also quite long, and I found it to be drawn out and slow in several parts, so by the end you kind of think, “It took us this long to get to this?”
War is a sad state according to the movie War Horse. While it depicted some of the tragic realities of war, it also gave the impression that there was no point to war. You were led in such a way that it was not clear which side of WWI was the bad side, and you weren’t rooting for either. Even those in the war were not in favor of it. No one had vision for what they were fighting for. There was not much honor portrayed in defending your country. While I’m not advocating war for the sake of war, I do believe there is honor in defending your country against attack, and this was not presented in any way. This nihilistic (nothing-ism) view of war presented leaves us feeling depressed and sad, like war can serve no purpose at all, and the last 2 hours of the movie were for naught. People live. People die. Life goes on.
Even the reunion between the Joey and Albert was not done in such a way that made you feel ecstatic and like the movie was ready to end happily. The bond was not built in such a way that you were sympathetic to the Joey only being with the Albert. There was some character work that could have been used more effectively in the time spent that would have made it more engaging.
Although this movie is pretty clean for a PG-13 rated film compared to some, it does include several curse words we were not pleased to hear and some violent depictions of war (though very little blood). This movie was recommended to us as a family movie, yet I personally would not recommend it for young children. Despite the language and violence, there were some humorous parts my siblings and I enjoyed, especially because parts of Joey’s character reminded us of my sister’s dog. ;)
Movies have power. They hold great influence and can shape a culture through their messages. My brother came home from the movie thinking all war was bad. That is one of the main thrusts of the movie, though it may appear somewhat subtle to some. So while some animal lovers may be drawn into the story of the horse, the overall message of the film leaves one wondering what life is really about.
P.S. Check out my sister Katie's blog for her review.