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On Christmas day, director Steven Spielberg gave families a gift, when he brought a children’s book to the silver screen. Originally published in 1982, Spielberg presents his adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s “War Horse.”
The book-turned-movie transports the audience to a time long since passed. Set during World War I, the film starts out in the Devon, England countryside where a farmer, Ted Narracott, (Peter Mullan) purchases a young thoroughbred horse at auction, instead of the plow horse he's supposed to purchase.
Albert's wife, Rose, (Emily Watson) is upset at the irrational purchase, but their teenage son, Albert, (Jeremy Irvine) is excited to train the horse. He names the horse “Joey” and teaches it to plow and to come on command.
When World War I begins, Albert's father, in desperate need of money, sells Joey to the British Cavalry without telling Albert. Albert tries to enlist with the Cavalry to be with Joey, but he is too young. Albert promises Joey they will be together one day.
Joey's new owner, Captain Nicholls, (Tom Hiddleston) trains Joey to be a battlefield warhorse. During training, Joey befriends another Cavalry horse, “Topthorn,” owned by Major Jamie Stewart, (Benedict Cumberbatch).
When both British officers are killed in battle, both horses fall into the hands of many different owners on both sides of the war. After Albert is old enough to enter the war, we see the horrific reality of the World War I trench warfare.
The movie is very suspenseful, keeping you on the edge of your seat. The English countryside scenes were actually filmed in England instead of a studio or other country. The war scenes are very realistic and the movie is filled with many details of life at that time. You really have to pay attention to the story plot as Joey switches owners and encounters new war adventures.
Fortunately for Joey, Topthorn is always at his side and together they escape many deadly situations. Each horse has its own personality, but because of Joey's strength and determination to live, he earns a reputation as “miracle horse.”
The continuous action makes the two hour and 26 minute movie go by quickly. War Horse is rated PG-13. It has very little foul language and no scenes that may be deemed as inappropriate to some viewers.