OK for kids 13+
Spielberg's sweeping horse drama is beautiful but intense.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the English children's book and hit Broadway show depicts war in a realistic manner that's too intense for younger kids. Despite being an earnest, sentimental horse drama, the war sequences show soldiers being killed in action (and for desertion) as well as a field of dead cavalry horses. Three subplots focusing on families depict their own wartime tragedies, including a drunk father; a sick, orphaned granddaughter; and a soldier trying to save his underage brother from going to the front line. But the heart of this story is the touching bond between Albert and his beloved horse, Joey, who might be the bravest horse ever portrayed on film.
- Families can talk about the movie's violence. What is its impact? Do you think it should have been toned down to make the movie even more family friendly?
- Talk about the techniques Spielberg uses to "humanize" Joey. Do the extreme close-ups and swelling score make it easy to relate to the horse? Were you expecting the focus to shift to Joey's adventures instead of Albert's?
- Why are horse movies so popular with audiences? Compare War Horse to other famous horse-centered films.
The good stuff
Messages: Albert and Joey's relationship is a story of perseverance, loyalty, and unwavering friendship. The two belong together, and Joey is committed not only to serving his country but to finding his beloved horse again. There are also messages about war -- both that it's an honor to serve your nation but that it's a tragedy to have to die for it.
Role models: Albert is an amazing young man. He's dedicated and disciplined to train and teach Joey and later to find him again. He's brave during battle and selfless in his actions. Despite his courage, he's also quite kind and sweet. A German soldier tries to save his younger brother from fighting, even if by doing so he endangers himself. A French grandfather and his sick, precocious granddaughter have a beautiful relationship that's combative but close.
What to watch for
Violence: The war scenes aren't sugar-coated. They're not as graphic as the R-rated Saving Private Ryan, but there's definitely a body count -- with dead and injured soldiers and horses shown. Most of the disturbing war scenes are in the movie's second half. Particularly upsetting moments include two young soldiers being shot for deserting, other key supporting characters (including a horse) being killed in action or from exhaustion, and a major character being injured (it's unsure whether he'll make it or not).
Sex: A teenager flirts with a girl he's driving around town; Albert shows off on Joey in front of them.
Language: British slang/insults like "barmy," "bugger," "bloody," "daft," "stupid git," "old sod," "fool of a father," and the like. Also "hell," "damn," and "good lord" (as an exclamation).
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Mr. Narracott drinks and seems to be known for being drunk on a regular basis. He stumbles around and slurs his words on occasion.
Fan Reviews provided by
War Horse by jwelch5742
It was awesome film. it got great screenplay, music score, Cinematography and wonderful producers for Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy .
Academy Awards, out! by mollies_mom
What a wonderful film. Not as big a tearjerker as I had expected, though I did pull out the tissues at times. True fantasy but done so well. You cant help but notice the cinematography. What a vision. There isnt a weak character in the bunch. I never read the book, but I will now. The theater was crowded (sold out in fact). Even so, I couldnt hear a peep from them. 2 /12 hours flew by. Wanted more. A must see by everyone.
A Big And Sweeping Tale. Destined To Join The Animal Classics Of All Time. by Alon Patterson
What would cinema be today had there been no Steven Spielberg? I cannot imagine. Thankfully, he was here to imagine many amazing and wonderful things for me and countless others these past few decades. His legacy in film looms large, as does his latest contribution. Visually stunning, it could only be described as epic. Dark, assuming, totally immersive and unrelenting would also describe this work. Don't even think you'll escape emotional upheaval during this film. It's exhausting. The man who gave us the Saving Private Ryan battlefield sequence does it again with WW1 and boy-oh-boy is it nerve wrenching! This movie is extremely intense, so leave the little kids home and be careful your older teen is mature enough to handle graphic depictions of war. Otherwise, it is a must see, hands down. You won't be disappointed.
It will be a "classic" and Golden Globe winner! Possibly an Oscar, too?? by ejhsmile
I laughed, was teary eyed and thoroughly enjoyed the quality of this movie! We need MORE films like this. However, this is NOT a film for small children with the war scenes and the emotional intensity of it.
The casting and acting was superb, the cinematography at points reminded me of "Gone With the Wind" and the script was excellent. The story line is so woven that you are kept "hooked" until the end.
War Horse by kaygolfer
We have our family Christmas on Christmas Eve and usually go to a movie on Christmas Day. This year we picked "War Horse" as the movie, and that was definitely the right choice. We all really liked it. The 8 year old thought it was exciting, the 12 year old related it to the history of WW I that he has studied, and 3 of the 4 adults were teary-eyed. I would definitely recommend seeing it. Our only complaint was that it was a long movie, although it wasn't slow, just long, which it had to be to tell the whole story. Except for the battle scenes which are violent, it's a good family movie, and it seems to be historically accurate. There are also some humorous moments, which were enjoyable.
Wonderful by KateK111
This is one of the best movies I've ever seen in the 50-some years I've been going to movies. Everything about it was excellent, from the acting (including the horses), the writing, the storyline, the scenery, the moral statement, and the moments of humor (including the horses). Some of the more graphic scenes may be a bit too harsh for children under the age of 9.
Captavating by I an the MAX
The story line flowed much like "The Saving of Private Ryan". Compelling sub plots around a horses travels in war torn Europe. The photography and special effects put the viewer in the middle of the trenches in France with a surprising sense of reality. The scenery and photography were vivid. Two and one half hours went quite quickly. However, the conclusion seemed a bit surreal. Over all however, a very worthwhile experience.
War Horse by dh1942
The best movie I have seen in a long time! I would see it again. Funny, sad, exciting. A wonderful movie! When I got home from seeing War Horse I immediately called my daughter and told her to take my 10 yr. old and 14 yr. old grandsons to see it. High recommend it!
War Horse by UncleTim4
Probably one of the top three horse movies ever but will appeal in several genres. We seldom see a movie that elicits widespread applause from the audience.
War Horse by mormino
It was an awesome movie, with a great story. Had a bit of everything; a few laughs, a few tears, but truly a gripping movie! Hope it receives an Oscar!