I can’t believe I waited almost a year to see this. I was unexpectedly surprised and very satisfied with Spielberg’s latest film (his best sinceCatch Me If You Can a decade ago), based on the critically-acclaimed play of the same name.
It has a charming enough beginning and premise: a young man takes in an injured horse and trains him to plow, hoping to raise enough money to save his family’s farm. As World War I breaks out, however, the family is forced to sell the horse and the movie truly begins.
While I expected a standard narrative, the film functioned in a much more interesting way: the horse passed between different parties, British and German soldiers, a young French girl, and others throughout the course of the war. I won’t give any spoilers but the ending is incredibly moving and satisfying.
The movie seems to drag on during the second hour (clocks in at almost 150 minutes), but the payoff is well worth it. The wide variety of characters are able to come together in a believable scenario, illustrating how much the horse and the war has changed all of them.
It is in this last ten minutes or so that the film truly blew me away; the characters gave incredibly stirring speeches, evoking themes of sacrifice, loss, and redemption.
In addition to the wonderful emotional power of this film, it is also very well shot and produced. The stunning imagery is often reminiscent ofGone With the Wind, of characters in desperate situations silhouetted against a fiery orange sky. Their identities aren’t what matters; it is the extraordinary circumstances they face and how they meet those circumstances that make this a genuinely heartfelt and inspirational work.