Directed by Steven Spielberg and staring a host of actors such as Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch and Toby Kebbell.
The film follows a horse called Toby, from when he is born and raised by Albert, played by Jeremy Irvine, as we follow the horse’s journey through the world and through the war, passed from owner to owner across europe.
One thing that I just state is that if you are a fan of horses then you will find this both enjoyable and emotional journey, if you are not then you will enjoy most of the characters and hopefully some of the beautiful and amazing scenery.
To begin with it strangely feels like your watching Lord of the rings, mainly due to the vast hills, landscape shots from the camera and the soundtrack which is good. As we watch people travelling across land on horses and see people working away on farms.
We are introduced to Jeremy Irvine the first owner of Toby, the bond between the two of them is there and very much believable, his performance is excellent and both man and animal work very well together and you feel the emotional attachment to these two people. The other animals on the farm are also incredibly funny including a goose who does not like certain people.
You feel yourself getting involved with the film and the horse with one scene where they attempt to plough a field with most of the town watching them. Then war begins and Toby is needed for the soldiers. Enter Tom Hiddleston as the kind solider who feels sympathy for Albert and his horse when he buys Toby and brings him back to the compound, again you feel this immense connection and understanding between Irvine and Hiddleston which is a fantastic scene.
This is carried on to Benedict Cumberbatch whose scene with Hiddleston and the horses and one of the highlights of the film, you feel the nerves you feel the love and you feel the pain. though it’s not a long scene its an effective and powerful one.
From here however the film travels down hill fast, not because the performances are bad but because there are too many short stories going on, which is a good idea as long as its long enough for each story. Before you have time to make a connection with any of them and there are a lot, they are whisked away and feel a little pointless. Though great performances all around there is simply not time for them.
You can see the idea that Spielberg was trying to create , this horse was powerful enough to go around europe and touch everyone in one way or another, which is good idea in theory but it doesn’t work here.
From here the film feels too long and laborious when really some of the stories should be cut. The horse now spends a good hour running around and being used for labour, great for 10 minutes, too long for an hour unless you really love horses.
One of my favourite scenes in this film is one between Toby Kebbell and a french solider and they try to untangle the horse. It works well, has a great sense of timing and connection and is played perfectly.
I won’t spoil it by saying how it ends just that it finally comes back to life at the scene I just mentioned and from there it’s back to being a great film.
Clearly Spielberg has spent huge amounts of money on this projects and it shows, the battlefield scenes are amazing, the music is fantastic and the camera shots.
OVERALL*** It’s good beginning and end but the middle has no feel or attraction to it, yes I would recommend watching it but it does not quite live up to the hype it was given. I didn’t really feel for this film.