War Horse
2011
***
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, David Thewlis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Eddie Marsan, Toby Kebbell, Niels Arestrup, David Kross

The son of a Devon farmer loves his young thoroughbred Joey, but his destitute father is forced to sell the horse to a British officer. During the ensuing First World War, Joey changes hands between the British, the Germans and the French, who all cannot help but admire the beauty and strength of this noble animal. Steven Spielberg’s fable is grounded in reality, but I never once forgot that I was watching a movie. There’s an odd contrast between, on the one hand, the anthropomorphic protagonist and the otherworldly rural setting(s), and, on the other hand, the gritty and hyperrealistic scenes of war. Joey’s story is long and episodic. It’s rarely dull but never exactly captivating, either. The screenplay by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis is based on Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel and Nick Stafford’s 2007 stage adaptation.