Monday, December 26, 2011

Antiwar Horse

I agree with Indiewire reviewer Peter Knegt: War Horse is a "bizarrely gay" movie. But it is bizarre in the sense that it is totally unexpected. People going in probably know it's about the love of a young man (Albert) for a horse (Joey) and vice versa. But who would know it's also about the love of the horse Joey for another horse (the "black horse", Topthorn)? It's like the two "war horses" are the first openly gay soldiers in the military. A breakthrough moment.

It helps of course that Albert (played by Jeremy Irvine) is incredibly beautiful — the camera loves him as much as Joey — but there are others too worth noting who come along and display compassion for Joey (e.g. Gunther, played by the German actor David Kross). That I heard sobbing throughout the sold-out theater during the last twenty minutes of the movie means it appeals to everyone (not just gay men).

But what Spielberg does with this movie is amazing. It is like John Ford (The Searchers) on steroids. Some reviewers and commenters take the movie down a notch or two because they think it is too schmaltzy, or the dialog too corny. But they are missing it completely. There is so much going on here, and it's not only the homage to Ford. The trench warfare scenes bring back images of Stanley Kubrick's antiwar movie Paths of Glory.

At the heart of the movie is a scene in "No Man's Land" between British and German forces. A Englishman (Geordie, played by Toby Kebbell) and a German meet alone to rescue Joey who has been caught in barbed wire. One has no idea what the war is about.

In all, I think that this is the best antiwar movie I've ever seen. War is a shitty deal for humans — and horses.