Tragedy, pathos and redemption – how War Horse succeeds

With its recent DVD/Blu-ray release, film critic Mark Kermode thinks it’s a good moment for a reappraisal of Steven Spielberg’s epic drama WAR HORSE – and I agree.

Even when you’re Steven Spielberg making a film version of Michael Morpurgo’s hugely successful novel WAR HORSE, you’re not immune to criticism. No matter that the novel has been skilfully adapted from both the novel and the smash-hit stage play by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis. No matter that your cast is made up of a veritable who’s who of talented British actors including Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, David Thewlis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston and Eddie Marsan. No matter that you’ve discovered another talented youngster in Jeremy Irvine as the film’s lead, Albert. No matter that the movie is exquisitely shot by Spielberg’s usual genius cinematographer Janusz Kaminiski and lushly scored by his regular composer, the masterful John Williams.

Sometimes people like the film you create and sometimes they don’t. This is a shame in this case, as Morpurgo’s story of a boy who follows his beloved horse into the First World War when the army commandeers the horse for their cavalry, is incredibly moving.

Jeremy Irvine as Albert with Joey in War Horse

Jeremy Irvine as Albert with Joey

I did feel that the criticism levelled at the film seemed unfair when it was released earlier this year, as I thought it was pretty great. Here, the movie is re-evaluated and reappraised rather brilliantly by The Observer’s Mark Kermode in his review about how it really works as a film adaptation.

A sweeping tear-jerking epic