Movie review

‘War Horse’ will be a classic
By: Frank Miller Special to The News Messenger
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Directed by Steven Spielberg Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Tom Hiddleston and Emily Watson Rating: Five out of five stars In his second film released within a month, Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” is a distinctly old-school affair told through the lens of a master leaning on classic techniques of visual and narrative storytelling that have long gone out of style. “War Horse” is a sprawling epic about a young boy and his horse, Joey, who part ways while traversing the landscapes of World War I. They touch many lives along the way. There’s not a drop of irony or even a hint of cynicism here. It’s a film that would find easy company among the timeless classics found in the 20th Century. Spielberg, along with longtime cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, captures breathtaking vistas of the English countryside and contrasts them with the horrors of trench warfare. The film leans heavily on its visuals because the film is told through the perspective of the horse, whose obvious limitation is a lack of dialogue. That being said, Spielberg wisely never tries to anthropomorphize the horse or make him more human. Instead, we are shown how Joey affects the lives of those he comes into contact with and the story is funneled through these characters. Each of these characters has their own filter through which we can view the war. That allows us to obtain an all-encompassing look at this period in time without feeling like we’re sitting through a history lesson. “War Horse” is unapologetic in the way it tugs on your heartstrings but it never seeks an emotional response that doesn’t feel earned and honest. Everything works together seamlessly to deliver an awe-inspiring experience punctuated by fleeting moments of humor and levity. Unlike his other new film, “The Adventures of Tintin,” which felt lost amid technological bells and whistles; “War Horse” strips it back to the basics. “War Horse” allows a masterpiece to unfold, unencumbered by the distraction of innovation for innovation’s sake. Frank Miller is a Sacramento writer. In this film image released by Disney, Jeremy Irvine is shown in a scene from “War Horse.” Producers Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg were nominated for nominated Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012, for the 23rd Annual Producers Guild Awards for the film “War Horse.” The winners will be announced on Jan. 21. (AP Photo/Disney, Andrew Cooper) In this film image released by Disney, Jeremy Irvine is shown in a scene from “War Horse.” The film was nominated Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011 for a Golden Globe award for best motion picture drama. The Golden Globes will be presented Jan. 15 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, televised live by NBC and hosted by Ricky Gervais. (AP Photo/Disney, Andrew Cooper)