Award whinnying? War Horse shows Spielberg talent

The closing shots of Steven Spielberg's War Horse will stir emotions in every serious movie lover. The sky is painted with a deeply red-orange sunset. A lone rider is seen far away on the horizon. The rider approaches and dismounts. He embraces a woman and a man. They all embrace the horse's head. Music swells. This footage, with the rich colors and dramatic framing on what is either a sound stage or intended to look like one, could come directly from a John Ford Western.

It is Spielberg's homage, I believe, to Ford and to a Hollywood tradition of broad, uplifting movies intended for all audiences. The performances and production values throughout honor that tradition. War Horse is bold, not afraid of sentiment, and lets out all the stops in magnificently staged action sequences. Its characters are clearly defined and strongly played by charismatic actors. Its message is a universal one, about the horror of war in which men and animals suffer and die, but for the animals there is no reason: They have cast their lot with men who have betrayed them.

The movie, based on a best-selling novel and a long-running London and New York stage production, begins on a small family farm in the county of Devon. Full review.

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1 comment

Actually, the horses have not "cast their lot' ; see the very affecting London Memorial to war animals that says "'They had no choice." The movie is overly sentimental and 'stock" but good, with beautiful cinema-photography and acting and a deep always important message about peace over war.