I watched War Horse with The Engineer, a few days ago.
While I must congratulate Mr. Steven Spielberg for being the master storyteller and world class director that he is, I do take umbrage on a couple of points that totally ruined the movie for me.
1) Spielberg seems vaguely obsessed with communicating the meaninglessness (is that a word?) of war (think Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List). While I do believe that it is indeed a rather worthy issue to be obsessed about, I think he takes things a little too far. Parts of War Horse was focused on World War I and were frankly too traumatic and almost impossible for me to watch. It took all my self control not to openly weep in the cinema. The suffering endured by that beautiful, dignified horse and the sweet boy who was his owner was simply horrible.
2) I do realize that this movie, although not based on a true story, does give the right impression of war. I believe real war robs everyone involved of practically everything they hold dear – or at the very least – they get really, really close to losing everything. Either way, there is no way anyone can go through a war and come out of it unscathed. You pay a price either emotionally, physically, psychologically, financially and sometimes all four. Spielberg skillfully brought this truth to the fore with War Horse but in so doing, the message of love, honour, trust and faith, took a back seat. I felt distraught after watching the movie instead of hopeful.
These two points made War Horse one of the saddest movies I have ever had the bad luck to watch.
I love animals and it was almost beyond my ability to watch many parts of the movie ( I seriously considered leaving the cinema). I ended up burying my face in The Engineer’s sleeve half the time which only helped a little because I could still hear what was going on.
I don’t like sad movies. I don’t see the point. Real life can be hard enough and I don’t fancy paying good money for a large dollop of unhappiness.
I ended up feeling miserable and exhausted that day – not what you want to experience on a weekend night at the movies. I had to talk myself out of feeling entirely hopeless and it took at least a couple of hours to feel better.
So, if you’re thinking of watching War Horse (and especially if you’re an animal lover) you need to be armed with more than a box of tissues. You need some sort of mental defense mechanism as well.
If not, proceed with extreme caution. It’s going to cost you some happiness for a while.
pic credit http://www.moviefanatic.com