#5 | War Horse (2011) ★★★★☆
Set during World War I, War Horse tells the story of a horse named Joey and Albert (Jeremy Irvine), the teen boy who raised him. The best friends become separated when Joey gets sold to the British Army by Albert’s father. It’s then that Albert promises to find Joey again and throughout the film Joey is determined to get back to Albert. We follow Joey through the war as he works for both British and German troops and when he is briefly taken in by an elderly French man and his granddaughter. As Joey’s fate unfolds, we are introduced to a slew of different characters who take many different roles in the war. Some are bad, but most are good and no matter what side they’re on, they all want Joey to survive. The horse seems to remind the humans of their humanity. For me, the most memorable scene in the film involves a British and German soldier working together and being generally chummy in the middle of no man’s land to unite in the task of freeing Joey from barbed wire. It was so wonderfully executed, I couldn’t keep the smile off my face even if I tried. There was definite manipulation on Spielberg’s part to get tears from the audience, but it wasn’t so overly sentimental as to become cheesy. War Horse feels like a throwback to films such as Black Beauty, but with a more modern touch. I absolutely adore it.