I’ve heard a lot of people say the movie War Horse was sad, but the most powerful feeling that I came away with after seeing it yesterday was joy. The joy of a reunion between a boy and his beloved horse who had suffered a devastating separation. There were definitely parts of the movie that were hard to watch. But if you’ve ever lost a horse or a pet or a person that you loved, you pine for the impossible reunion. This movie gives it to you on a silver screen.
I love this story. Having read the book by Michael Morpurgo and seen the Broadway play, I had fun over-analyzing the differences between the book, the play and the movie. A few thoughts to share:
- The movie spirits a few scenes from other beloved horse movies (that aren’t in the book or the play) like the beautiful scene where Joey and main character Albert jump a rocky wall in a Devon field, much like the scene in which Elizabeth Taylor as Velvet Brown jumps a similar wall on The Pie in National Velvet. And in the awful scene where Topthorn (Joey’s fellow gallant horse of war) dies, the scene takes on the flavor of Black Beauty when his treasured friend, the chestnut mare Ginger, dies. In the book War Horse and in the play, Topthorn dies alone in the care of Joey, who has been standing over him for a night, sheltering him from a brutally cold rain.
- Zoey is missing from the movie! In the book and in the play, the main horse character, Joey, is anchored by an old mare named Zoey. She’s like the Pumpkin to Seabiscuit. "...I had caught a glimpse of kindness and sympathy from that old mare that cooled my panic and soothed my panic." In the end, Joey returns to her side on the farm.
- The start of the movie has a whimsical, almost Babe the Gallant Pig tone, which doesn’t come through in the book or the play – though all three make use of a comical and surly goose running around honking at people.
Another fun tidbit about the movie -- click here to read about the artist who created the beautiful sketches Captain Nicholls made of Joey in the movie. Have you read the book or seen the play or the movie? What did you think about the differences or similarities?