Dartmoor,1914: To his wife's dismay farmer Narracott buys a thoroughbred horse rather than a plough animal, but when his teenaged son Albert trains the horse and calls him Joey, the two becoming inseparable. When his harvest fails, the farmer has to sell Joey to the British cavalry and he is shipped to France where, after a disastrous offensive he is captured by the Germans and changes hands twice more before he is found, caught in the barbed wire in No Man's Land four years later and freed. He is returned behind British lines where Albert, now a private, has been temporarily blinded by gas, but still recognizes his beloved Joey. However, as the Armistice is declared Joey is set to be auctioned off. After all they have been through will Albert and Joey return home together? Written by
don @ minifie-1
Original author Michael Morpurgo's original story evolved from a chance meeting with three surviving WW1 soldiers at his local bar in Iddesleigh, Devon, Morpurgo's English hometown. After a number of meetings with the former members of the Devon yeomanry, and consultations with the Imperial War Museums (IWM), Morpurgo was able to structure a story based on the experiences of the veterans and their poignant accounts of, not just human slaughter on the battlefield, but also the wholesale carnage and starvation of horses. See more »
Before leaving for France Major Stewart gives the order for battle; there is to be no polish so that a glinting bridle or stirrup would not give away their position. In the scenes set in France all the metal on the horse's bridles is freshly polished. See more »
Spielberg's film is his vision of Michael Morpurgo's beloved book, which must surely now be essential reading for all kids, if it wasn't before.
Superficially it's about a horse named Joey and a boy called Albert, who become inseparable through a series of unfortunate events World War I being one of them. A closer look reveals a story of such overwhelming humanity that I was bowled over. Spielberg was the only director for this film because he knows what it means to be a child.
Whether or not it is apparent in the book, there's no doubt this is a war film, one that ranks with Spielberg's 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Schindler's List'. Emily Watson's character utters a line about the refusal of being proud of killing, which is the line one might use to summarise the film's point. Because Spielberg is Jewish, this line is pregnant with meaning. It's his noble way of saying that, despite the suffering received by his kin, he is willing to forgive their oppressors.
There's a scene where Joey is trapped by barbed-wire in no man's land and is freed by the combined effort of an Englishman and a German, who put aside their differences under the name of human decency. The scene is breathtaking, and it's the sort which no-one does better than Spielberg.
Long-time collaborator John Williams provides a moving score, regardless of its resemblance to the one he composed for 'Saving Private Ryan'. Director of Photography Janusz Kaminski reminds us of the beauty of our rural regions by photographing the Devonshire countryside with reverence.
Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, David Thewlis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Niels Arestrup and Tom Hiddleston form the principal cast and are wonderful. Nothing could have prepared me for how much I'd be moved. There's no reason why you won't be.
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