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
Robert Emms, who had played the lead role of Albert Narracott in the West End stage production of the play, was cast in this film in a different part, as David Lyons. See more »
The young German deserter is named Michael. His named is pronounced the way an American/Englishman would pronounce it (with a k sound). A German would pronounce it with the a "ch" sound, which is an unvoiced soft aspirative sound not found in English. (Comparable to the Scottish sound "ch" i.e. in "Loch".) 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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