During the first World War, Britain lost approximately 887,000 men, nearly 2% of its population as a whole. To this day, World War 1 remains Britain's costliest conflict. Given the enormous carnage of the war, any serious artistic treatment of World War 1 has to take the basic truths of war into consideration. Such is the case with director Steven Spielberg's film War Horse, adapted from the novel of the same name by Michael Marpurgo.
War Horse is a film that follows a horse named Joey over four years as he experiences World War 1. A farmer named Ted Narracott purchases a young Joey to plow his farm and, although his wife Rose disapproves the purchase, his son Albert immediately takes to the animal and trains him for farm work. Eventually, war arrives, and all able-bodied men are conscripted, including horses to be used in the war effort. Ted sells Joey to Captain Nicholls, who promises Albert he will care for Joey and one day return him. Captain Nicholls takes Joey to France, where he is used in the cavalry to attack German soldiers. When a surprise attack goes badly, Joey falls into the care of the German soldiers. Through a tragic turn of events Joey ends up in the care of an old French man and his granddaughter before once again being discovered by the Germans and is used to transport artillery. Eventually, Joey is lost during a battle in No Man's Land and a single soldier from each side, German and British, declare a temporary truce to help the wounded animal.
The film War Horse holds several themes, but the one that shines through the most is how war touches the lives of people beyond the front lines. By following Joey as he switches handlers throughout the film, you are able to see how people are affected on different sides of the war, and those who aren't even involved directly. For example, two German brothers who joined the army abandon their posts to return home, and run away on Joey and another horse. As they rest for the night, they...
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