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WAR HORSE Post-Release Thread - Page 2

post #51 of 96
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabe T View Post

I don't really think one could be over-analytical about the most prominent filmmaker of his era.


In this case?  Yes.  Yes you can.

post #52 of 96

This is quite simply the most powerfully emotional movie of the entire year and is just sheer unadulterated cinema from start to finish. It's the one Spielberg film in a while that doesn't stumble somehow around the end (although bringing back Nils Arestrup was a bad idea, I think), and in fact the final expressionistic tableau-like series of shots might represent the best final moments in a latter-day Spielberg film yet.

 

I'm with Devin in saying it's not quite a masterpiece, but I must say, it's close. I mean, this is something grand and genuine and sweeping and maybe even timeless -- it's the kind of story that to me demands to be told at the scale and with the resources that only Spielberg is able to commit to it. In a year when I've been complaining that movies have seemingly forgotten how to find their emotional center, something that can really resonate with people, and have been becoming increasingly cerebral and artificial, this is the sort of thing that, despite being so classical and defiantly old-school and coming from a director who's been making movies for 40+ years, feels like a breath of fresh air. Loved it.

post #53 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by JMulder View Post

 (although bringing back Nils Arestrup was a bad idea, I think), .

 


Yeah, I just felt bad for him at the end.  I kind of wish we had left that storyline to our imagination.  

 

Overall, though, I loved the film.  It earns every one of its heart-tugs and the filmmaking was stellar.   

 

post #54 of 96
Thread Starter 

I liked Arestrup coming back.  I think we needed the closure.  And I think Albert needed to be aware of what Joey meant to that little girl.  It's also a nice little arc for Arestrup, as he drifts into the same attitude of the German soldiers who raided his farm -- taking something that doesn't belong to him for selfish reasons.  Only he realizes the mistake he's making.  And leaving the horse with someone who loves him is a better way to remember his grandaughter than simply keeping it around his farm.

post #55 of 96

This film warmed my cynical, angry, twisted heart. So many instances where shots look like grand paintings come to life. I hope Spielberg stays this square forever. 

post #56 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post

I liked Arestrup coming back.  I think we needed the closure.  And I think Albert needed to be aware of what Joey meant to that little girl.  It's also a nice little arc for Arestrup, as he drifts into the same attitude of the German soldiers who raided his farm -- taking something that doesn't belong to him for selfish reasons.  Only he realizes the mistake he's making.  And leaving the horse with someone who loves him is a better way to remember his grandaughter than simply keeping it around his farm.


I couldn't decide if I liked Arestrup's inclusion in the final scenes or not, but you are exactly correct for all the reasons you stated. It's perfect.

 

post #57 of 96

I like how the scene with Arestrup as executed and thought all the ideas behind it were good and well-intentioned, but it felt included moreso because Spielberg had become attached to that character particularly and wanted more scenes with him just because of that. Which is fine, but it sort of kills the momentum at the end of the film -- going right from the auction scene, minus Arestrup (which would need some reworking), right into the final shots would just be a good decision in terms of the emotional flow of the movie, I think. But it's basically nitpicking, since the final Arestrup scenes are themselves quite touching and do have a good place carved out, thematically and plot-wise, in the movie -- it's not like it's a glaringly confusing inclusion or anything.

post #58 of 96
Thread Starter 

Arestrup is sort of a deus ex machina here.  Albert has clearly been outbid for the horse.  He's going to lose him.  At least Spielberg didn't have Arestrup show up, buy the horse, and give it to Albert.  That would have felt cheap.

post #59 of 96

I also like how Arestrup throws a monkey wrench into the running joke that Joey's going price is, and always will be, 30 pounds. That's how much important his granddaughter's memory is to him: he'll sell the clothes off his back to still have a piece of her. I dunno, I thought it was a nice touch.

 

It's safe to say this film made me its bitch. I'm head over heels in love with it. Words can't really fit it right now.

post #60 of 96

The barbed wire scene is astounding -- a combination of great editing, lensing and direction working effortlessly - but another great scene that I don't think has yet been given its due recognition is the execution of the two German brothers by the windmill.  Probably one of the most effective moments that is, to my understanding, unique to the film's screenplay.

post #61 of 96

It really is amazing how he was able to create theses intense scenes of war and violence without the graphic gore. Usually that approach in ineffective chicken shit, but scenes like the windmill  and the soldiers being shot off the horses ( the machine guns fire, then the riderless horses jump over the guns) found creative ways to do it. 

post #62 of 96
Thread Starter 

Yes, that whole sequence with the German brothers is unique to the film, and it adds a nice sense of balance.

post #63 of 96

Just got back from this movie and it's honestly the first Spielberg movie in the longest time that works from start to-more importantly- finish.   There's something refreshing and bold about a movie like this in this day and age.   Between this and Tin Tin, the Beard is back.

post #64 of 96

So this fucked my brain and made it breakfast in the morning.

post #65 of 96

I walked in expecting to love this film but ended up REALLY disappointed. Nothing in this movie clicked for me, not even the horse. i felt no emotions towards any of the characters and I really could not stand the character of Albert. 

 

From the first scene of him watching Joey being born, awestruck with wide eyes almost tearing up with emotion I just knew this wasn't going to be a great night at the movies. Come on, a boy his age, having grown up on a farm back then, should be right there next to the others putting chains around the hoves of the newborn and  helping yank it out. That's how you grew up and learned back then. Not this glossy fairytale version of countryliving back in the days.

 

This whole movie was coated in so much sugar and just felt so fake. 

 

 

post #66 of 96

Yeah, I'm with you, Bitches. I won't deny the artistry and skill on display here, but there's a difference between graceful emotional manipulation and straight-up schmaltz. And this, to me, was schmaltz. It was too much sugar and the result was that I just didn't feel anything I was supposed to feel. It didn't help that some of the performances were flat-out bad (the little "French" girl, for instance). The scene where the horse gets tangled in the barbed wire was great and was the only time I felt what the movie wanted me to. The rest of the time it was just too sugary and artificial for my taste.

 

And before anyone accuses me of being some cold-hearted cynic; mere days before I balled my eyes out watching YEAR OF THE DOG. 


Edited by Sebastian OB - 1/28/12 at 9:15am
post #67 of 96

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebastian OB View Post

some of the performances were flat-out bad (the little "French" girl, for instance)


Seriously? I was actually taken aback by how good she was, for her age.

post #68 of 96

Her forced French accent distracted the shit out of me. Maybe it clouded my judgment on her acting. I really wasn't overly impressed with any of the characters or acting. The one thing I will take away from the film is the horse in the trenches followed by the barbed wire scene. That was the only sequence that approached anything I would deem award worthy.

post #69 of 96
In a lot of ways this felt like a really well made old fashioned film. Someone said here the ending might have been something seen in the late 1930s, I was getting that vibe as well. Best Picture? Hmm, not sure, but I feel it deserves the recognition it has now as a nominee.
post #70 of 96

Watched this last night for the first time. I'm pretty much with Richard on this one; put nearly any other director's name on it, and it would be already considered a classic. I think time is going to be very, very good to this film, as well.  can easily see it, via video and cable, becoming more and more loved and respected.

 

I don't agree with the upthread comment that Joey wasn't anthropomorphized. He clearly was - the relationship with the black horse trotted past rigid natural behavior, especially when Joey volunteered to take the black's place pulling the war machines. The level of humanization wasn't egegrious, though. I also don't think the film "really" wasn't about the horse. I think it was. The humans come and go, and, adroitly as their stories are told, they're not the focus of the film. 

 

My biggest criticism was the first act. We spent far too much time on the Irish farm and with the family. I think Spielberg could've done that more economically, without sacrificing the impact of the story's end.

 

I cannot get over how gorgeously this film was shot. Just magnificent. It made me sad I missed it on the big screen. And what I marveled at was Spielberg's continuing, masterful ability to beautifully compose, light, and orchestrate scenes that are horrifying - without either the beauty of the shot or the blackness of the scene cancelling each other out. I gasped at the camera movement when Albert's dad was about to shoot Joey; finding Albert standing in front of Joey as the camera moves with the gun barrel. Fucking amazing. The alternating shots of riderless horses leaping past the machine guns with the still-charging officers - again, if it was anyone else but the Beard, I think this would be getting a lot more praise.

 

Is it schmaltzy? I guess. For me, "schmaltz" implies or connotes an insincere, cheap approach at manipulating the audience's emotions. Nothing about this film felt fake or cheap. We see people being good and bad, and a full range in between. I don't want every film made to feel like this, but I very much want films like this to continue to be made. 

 

 

Finally, Tom Hiddleston owned this damn movie. Every scene he was in, every part of his story. It took me a few moments to see him as not-Loki, but I adjusted.  His death was the hardest to take - especially after Spielberg really makes you think his buddy with the new hat is the Red Shirt of the sequence. (And Silk Hat lived!)

 

post #71 of 96

I need to hydrate.

post #72 of 96

WAR HORSE is a better film when viewed in black & white. Fact.

post #73 of 96

Anyone seen Mightygodking's review of this movie? Pretty much sums up my feelings, a mess of incredibly fake sugared contrived cheap emotion-pushing horseshit from start to finish.

post #74 of 96

Such a childish, cynical, blanket response is as fake and contrived as the film it's decrying supposedly is. There's a shitload of earned emotion in this film. It can be cloying and manipulative at points, but it's earnest in its desire to move and inspire. The no-man's-land stuff alone raises it above the level being assigned to it by "mightygodking".

post #75 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebastian OB View Post

Her forced French accent distracted the shit out of me.

 

She was born in Belgium and speaks fluent French.

post #76 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Merriweather View Post

Such a childish, cynical, blanket response is as fake and contrived as the film it's decrying supposedly is. There's a shitload of earned emotion in this film. It can be cloying and manipulative at points, but it's earnest in its desire to move and inspire. The no-man's-land stuff alone raises it above the level being assigned to it by "mightygodking".

 

Apologies for it being blanket, but there is just so much about this movie that is forced that it's hard to start. Like having the boy and the horse have a Special Kinship before his insane drunk of a father buys it just to pointlessly show up his landlord for no good reason and yet we're supposed to dislike the landlord for not running a charity and believing that a self-destructive drunkard is clearly wasting good farmland?

 

Or having the horse pull heavy things be a show of character and strength instead of animal cruelty? Or why a medical doctor is concerned with the fate of a horse when he's got hundreds of patients to take care of?

 

As a more general comment, why the f*ck did everyone speak English?

post #77 of 96

Jesus Christ. Like, I thought you might have actually thought about this when mentioning the special connection, but obviously this film not being Ken Loach-level gritty realism was all it took for you to write it off.

post #78 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Merriweather View Post

Jesus Christ. Like, I thought you might have actually thought about this when mentioning the special connection, but obviously this film not being Ken Loach-level gritty realism was all it took for you to write it off.

 

There's a difference between gritty realism, and having a single horse being the most important thing in human history when millions are dying in gruesome circumstances at that very moment.

 

But you're likely right in me expecting something more than a forced interspecies romance using the Great War as a background, basically no different from Titanic save for Titanic not having a scene where the survivors forget their own losses and tragedies and go all 'Awww' about the main couple finding each other, Cameron was decent enough to do that in an afterlife sequence.

post #79 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damar View Post

But you're likely right in me expecting something more than a forced interspecies romance using the Great War as a background, basically no different from Titanic save for Titanic not having a scene where the survivors forget their own losses and tragedies and go all 'Awww' about the main couple finding each other, Cameron was decent enough to do that in an afterlife sequence.

 

Mischaracterising an entire film doesn't make what you say true, it just makes you look like an idiot.

 

Hey, guys, cancel all war films that focus on anything less than an impersonal widespread account of all the death and horror of the conflict. Anything else is just not *realistic* enough.

post #80 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damar View Post

 

There's a difference between gritty realism, and having a single horse being the most important thing in human history when millions are dying in gruesome circumstances at that very moment.

 

But you're likely right in me expecting something more than a forced interspecies romance using the Great War as a background, basically no different from Titanic save for Titanic not having a scene where the survivors forget their own losses and tragedies and go all 'Awww' about the main couple finding each other, Cameron was decent enough to do that in an afterlife sequence.

 

I skipped this in theaters because I felt it wasn't going to be my cup of tea. When I finally watched it last week, though superbly made, it didn't impress me enough to want to talk about it at length. It's nowhere near my top 10 of the year.

 

Having said that, your interpretation of this movie is so wrong it makes me want to call the police. 

post #81 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damar View Post

There's a difference between gritty realism, and having a single horse being the most important thing in human history when millions are dying in gruesome circumstances at that very moment.

 

 

Yeah, Spielberg always gets his war movies wrong. First, he tells that that some gold box is more important than everyone who died in WWII. Then he tells us having a whole squad killed to rescue one guy is not only good, but also more important than everyone who died in WWII. And THEN he tells us a few hundred Jews are more important than the millions who died in WWII. I guess we shouln't be surprised his next war film is all about valuing animals over humans in war. What a fucking idiot he is!

post #82 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Merriweather View Post

She was born in Belgium and speaks fluent French.

 

To be fair, even some very, very smart, well-travelled, masculine but sensual and discerning people have made similar (tiny) errors. For instance, unlike all you National Treasure fans, I had no idea who Diane Kruger was when I saw Inglourious Basterds and thought her accent sounded ludicrously fake.

 

Oh how we laughed when I found out the truth.

post #83 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damar View Post

 

There's a difference between gritty realism, and having a single horse being the most important thing in human history when millions are dying in gruesome circumstances at that very moment.

 

But you're likely right in me expecting something more than a forced interspecies romance using the Great War as a background, basically no different from Titanic save for Titanic not having a scene where the survivors forget their own losses and tragedies and go all 'Awww' about the main couple finding each other, Cameron was decent enough to do that in an afterlife sequence.

 

Invoking dirty realism as a way of criticizing War Horse is missing the entire point. This movie is sheer fantasy -- it's not about the atrocities of WWI. It's rated PG-13, for God's sake, and was designed to be. WWI is just the backdrop. It's about how a symbol can awaken compassion in people, even during the most brutal and inhuman times, and taking that symbol literally pretty much undermines what the movie is about. Cunningham's doctor is an example -- sure, he has a thousand other patients to worry about. But it's the fact that this horse alleviates that hard-edged practicality in him (itself a kind of "gritty realism"), which the war has completely normalized, that makes it a meaningful moment in the film.

post #84 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Closer View Post

As a huge Spielberg fan (I dont even mind Hook) I thought this was a big chore to sit through.  I have no problem with the schmaltz or manipulation.  I just thought it was boring as all hell.

 

I saw it yesterday finally and I have to agree with this.  Spielberg continues to bore me to tears and I'm one of his biggest fans.  I don't know why I haven't been able to sit through his last several films without tuning out, but this was one of the worst offenders.  There's something about Spielberg's "style" that doesn't translate well these days for me...or something, it's hard to put my finger on what bothers me about his latest films (and I mean everything since Private Ryan). 

 

Oh, and I hate Kaminski's lighting, with a fucking passion.  I think he's the worst DP Spielberg has ever worked with...technically there is nothing wrong with his work, but personally I hate his lighting schemes.

post #85 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambler View Post

There's something about Spielberg's "style" that doesn't translate well these days for me...or something, it's hard to put my finger on what bothers me about his latest films (and I mean everything since Private Ryan)

 

Oh, and I hate Kaminski's lighting, with a fucking passion.  I think he's the worst DP Spielberg has ever worked with...technically there is nothing wrong with his work, but personally I hate his lighting schemes.

 

I think you figured it out and his name is Kaminski. 

 

Personally I think Spielberg's created new classics in A.I., Catch Me If You Can, Minority Report, Munich, War Horse and Tintin so he's still on top of his game to me. 

post #86 of 96

I hate Kaminski too. His work is often an eyesore. Watch War Horse in black & white - it plays sooo much better.

post #87 of 96
Quote:

Originally Posted by User_32 View Post

 

I think you figured it out and his name is Kaminski. 

 

Kaminski isn't the reason I didn't like War Horse.

post #88 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambler View Post

 

Kaminski isn't the reason I didn't like War Horse.


That's not what I quoted. 

 

 

 

Quote:
There's something about Spielberg's "style" that doesn't translate well these days for me.

 

post #89 of 96

Yeah sorry.  But that's also not really it either...though it's a small part of it.

post #90 of 96

Finally saw this last night and really enjoyed it. I wouldn't say it's one of my favourite Spielberg films, but it does what it does with panache, and earns its sentiment ably. I thought Kaminski's photography worked well here, evoking that kind of 'golden age of Hollywood' glow. Some of the farm scenes with their bright red sunsets had a real Gone with the Wind-esque feel; I only got the single-disc edit edition that seems to omit all the good extras, and am curious as to whether that really was all location work because some of those farm exteriors look like they were shot on a stage.

 

Also, Benedict Cumberbatch needs to play period army roles more often; he completely nailed the archetypal, slightly theatrical English major type. While the characters were similarly stock for the most part, I think it worked in that classic-Hollywood kind of way. And the last hour is just glorious: Spielberg doing WW1 is something I've wanted to see for years, and while the portrayal isn't as harrowing as Saving Private Ryan, the Somme sequence is an amazing piece of filmmaking. It also contains my favourite scene, the Tommy and German freeing Joey from the barbed wire. What touched me about it was the fact that Joey is, even more literally than with the other characters, and agent of connection just by being there*; these two soliders literally just encounter him for a few minutes, but are able to cooperate and relate in a way their jobs should deem impossible.

 

Interestingly it, like much of the film, has a stagey quality to its dialogue and blocking, though it felt more to me as an attempt to emulate the staging of the films of the 40s and 50s than anything to do with the play. It was, after all, a novel first, and I'd imagine a much harder one to turn into a play than a film. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Though another reading occurred to me that meeting this horse seems to end up incredibly unhealthy for most of these characters; generally, having him around ends up in severe emotional trauma if you're lucky, extreme cases of death if you're not. It's like Joey is the equestrian equivalent of the tape from The Ring. 

post #91 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelM View Post

My biggest criticism was the first act. We spent far too much time on the Irish farm and with the family. I think Spielberg could've done that more economically, without sacrificing the impact of the story's end.

 

 

Yes, this is possibly one of the latest responses to a comment on CHUD in existence but I was reading this forum after seeing the movie for the first time and just wanted to correct this. It's not an Irish farm. The beginning and end of the movie are set in Devon, which is in south west England. It's why Albert tells the son of the landlord when he saves him "We're Devon boys". I guess the Devon accent could sound a little like irish if you're unfamiliar with it.

 

Anyway, I very much liked this movie. I'd purposely avoided it as I thought it was be overloaded with schmaltz but was surprised to find myself quite emotionally invested in many of the stories, and with the horse in general. Whilst I can't say I disagree with the problems raised in this thread, I found that the movie worked for me on pretty much every level.

post #92 of 96

I keep trying to figure out why I loved WAR HORSE for the exact same reasons I disliked AUSTRALIA.

post #93 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by FatherDude View Post

I keep trying to figure out why I loved WAR HORSE for the exact same reasons I disliked AUSTRALIA.

 

Less Plastic Kidman.

post #94 of 96

Also less magical Aboriginal kid narrating in overly cutesy "Down Undah" lingo.

 

Also, real sets and a plot that doesn't meander about, feeling like it could end anytime after 45 minutes.

 

And, well, a general lack of Baz Luhrmann bullshit.

post #95 of 96

If there's one thing Roger Ebert has taught me, it's that I must be honest with myself about my emotional reaction to a film. I cannot laugh and then later say that I didn't, for example.

 

Quite honestly, War Horse was an utterly powerful experience for me from Frame 1. Spielberg's confident direction, Kaminski's cinematography (it's some of the best work the man has ever done, screw watching it in black-and-white), the acting and Williams' score completely sucked me in. With this, Tintin and Lincoln, Spielberg is back on top as far as I'm concerned. Laundry list time!:

 

-I honestly wasn't expecting to like Jeremy Irvine as much as I did, but his natural hominess and chemistry with the always-great Peter Mullan and Emily Watson won me over quickly. And his interactions with Joey were completely believable on every level.

 

-One thing Spielberg will never stop being great at is jolting the viewer with nasty little shocks, such as when the horses reappear on the other side of the German trench without their riders, the windmill blade crossing in front of the camera as the two German boys are shot, or the pan up to reveal a field of dead men and horses.

 

-The biggest tear-jerking moments for me were the death of Topthorn and the insane beauty of the final shots.

 

-Hiddleston and Cumberbatch steal the movie acting-wise for me since I'm a giant fanboy of both of them (Hiddleston's realization that he's about to die is heartbreaking), but Niles Arestrup is also quite excellent as the French grandfather, and David Thewlis does some nice mustache-twirling early on.

 

-Everything on the Somme, be it human or horse related, is STUNNING. Some of the most evocative or brilliantly grimy visuals Spielberg and Kaminski have ever created.

 

-I have gotten to the point where I've ceased giving a shit about whether or not a movie is created with the intent to win Oscars or not. All I care about is if it's good. War Horse is GREAT, if you ask me.

post #96 of 96

*blinks at MASSIVE rep jump thanks to Greg, Michael, and Jacob* Uh, thanks, guys. I usually get that kind of rep for my wall-of-text posts.

 

Anyway, some more assorted thoughts on the film courtesy of yours truly:

 

-Anyone here seen the stage play? I've heard it's an equally remarkable experience thanks to the groundbreaking puppet work on the horses. And it sounds like the story is different enough that it wouldn't just be a repeat of the movie.

 

-Still annoyed I didn't get to see this in theaters, but the Blu-ray is so great that it's difficult to complain about the experience.

 

-Emily Watson threatening to stab out David Thewlis' eyes with her knitting needles might be the most BADASS moment of the entire film. And his wussy reaction is hilarious.

 

-Yeah, the scene where Collin and Pieter free Joey and chat over it definitely reminds me of the famous Christmas Eve truce (which I'm sure was Spielberg's intent on some level). The moment where they ask for more wire cutters and the Germans fling a BUNCH over is a great tension-releasing laugh.

 

-The English Major side of me got a big kick out of their "You speak good English" "I speak English well" exchange.

 

-I think I actually did gasp at the "riderless horses jump over the machine guns" moment. And when the camera swings with Mullan's shotgun to reveal Albert standing in front of Joey. You KNOW a movie has you when you're reacting like that.

 

-Another big "oh shit" moment for me: the mustard gas going off. I actually did a paper on trench warfare several semesters back, so I knew that had to come into play at some point. I just didn't expect it to temporarily blind the main human character.

 

-My "ceasing to give a shit" comment in the post is a result of having to endure several years of certain cinema snobs (who will remain nameless, as some of them are here) sneering at movies that seem to be specifically made to win Oscars or other awards. Especially if it's an insanely popular master of film like Spielberg. Even if a movie's good, or GREAT, some people look down their noses at "Oscar Bait" no matter what the quality. I admit that this can sometimes backfire, but more often than not I'd say it produces films that at least have lofty ambitions made by good-to-great directors. Isn't that what people should champion in cinema, even from our blockbuster specialists?

 

-Bear in mind that I can find it in myself to love any kind of film if it's good, no matter what purpose it was made for. I have to, I'm an animation geek for God's sake. And War Horse's pure quality overrode any of my minimal concerns that the film's Oscar Bait quality might get in its way.

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