War Horse

December 28, 2011

The love between a boy and a horse —so tender, so touching—has moved many a modern theater audience. But enough about Equus. A more family-friendly, less crime-against-nature sort of love exists between War Horse’s young Albert and his horse pal Joey, and it’s one that’s already made for a beloved children’s book by Michael Morpurgo, as well as a recent Tony-winning play. Now it’s in the hands of Steven Spielberg, a master of wringing sentiment out of the deep and abiding friendships between young boys and their non-human soul mates. He’s also pretty handy with staging epic battle scenes, making Joey’s survival in the thick of World War I a matter of heart-wrenching suspense as he gallops through the trenches. And as Spielberg did with Saving Private Ryan, the sprawling chaos of war is filtered through a small and personal story, as Albert journeys to be reunited with Joey—pining over sketches of the duty-bound horse, and dreaming of the day they can be together again. It sounds a bit silly written out like this, but once those soaring John Williams strings kick in, you may be overcome with your own emotions about all the horses you’ve loved and lost.

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