War Horse (2011)

Directed by Steven Spielberg 

Who’s in it? Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis

What’s it about? Steven Spielberg’s War Horse is a modern epic which follows the inspirational and unlikely journey of a horse named Joey as he whinnies his way miraculously through the emotional ravages of World War I, touching the hearts of just about everyone on the way. The most hardened of critics included! Beginning in a small country town in England, we follow our equine hero from his first clumsy canter across the idyllic Devon countryside in the company of his best friend and trainer Albert, to the bloody trenches of France where he engenders a spirit of hope among the hopeless. War Horse is everything an uplifting film about the unlikely survival of an infantry horse in the First World War should be; cheesy and melodramatic but sincere and uplifting.

Memorable moments? With a nod to a real-life WWI story about German and Allied soldiers apparently calling a ceasefire for a game of footy in No Man’s Land, Spielberg poignantly captures the gooey essence of Michael Morpurgo’s novel in a scene which sees the heroic horse get tangled in the barbed wire between the two trenches. With nowhere left to run, soldiers from either side raise the white flag and work together to free him.

Look who’s talking: ‘Not entirely satisfying – Somehow, though, the sum of the parts are more than the whole. It is a film of a kind we don’t see any more, that it would be good to see more of.’ – Decent Films Guide

Like that? Try this: Best known for the rousing 70s TV theme, Black Beauty (1994) also stars David Thewlis and is based on Anna Sewell’s classic about the importance of friendship, loyalty and respect for animals.

Trivia Pursuit: Before War Horse Jeremy Irvine’s only prior acting experience was as a tree with no lines in amateur theatre.

Ronan Wright writes from Belfast and blogs at Filmplicity

Ronan Wright is a graduate in Film Studies from The Queen’s University of Belfast. As well as contributing to MercatorNet as a film critic since March 2011 he has run Filmplicity, a Belfast-based film...