Sunday, December 25, 2011
“War Horse” Directed by Steven Spielberg
Film Review by Jack Silbert
In my lifetime, there have been many notable horse movies: International Velvet, Black Stallion, Phar Lap, Sylvester, and Seabiscuit quickly come to mind. And I didn't see ANY of them. Why? Horses are for girls! (Though I did think Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken was an awesome title, and I used it as the chorus of a song I wrote. I didn't write a song, just a chorus.)
But war is for boys. So could this be the equine flick that would finally make me saddle up? Add my man Spielberg to the proceedings and the answer was a resounding yes. And I almost liked this movie a whole lot. Almost.
But is it a children's movie? I'll say yes, but certainly for kids of a particular age, temperament, and maturity. Its official rating is PG-13 “for intense sequences of war violence,” and there are a couple of battlefield scenes here—during and after—that are pretty intense. Not in terms of gore or bullets, mind you. But war is scary, and this movie definitely conveys that idea. For a kid who can handle that, there are some important lessons here: of friendship, loyalty, fear, bravery, determination, and the classic soldier's dilemma—how can you fight someone when you realize he's not that different from you?
Still, Spielberg is a master, and he knows how to end a movie, so he ... excuse me ... reins us back in. A tug on the heartstrings here, some gorgeous cinematography there, and we all live happily ever after.
Jack Silbert is a writer of children's books, restaurant reviews, witty essays, and the like. He lives in Hoboken, N.J.