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Film Fans moved by Spielberg's 'War Horse'

EDITOR'S NOTE: Film Fans features local residents reviewing the movie of the week: "War Horse." Want to be a film fan? Email features@gwinnettdailypost.com.

3 1/2 out of 4 Stars

In a nutshell, "War Horse" is an emotional movie about a horse's life filmed by a master storyteller, Steven Spielberg. This movie captivates and enthralls with its story through a time period so far removed from our time that every frame tells a period story.

The film presents the world at the turn of the 20th century as seen through the eyes of Albert Narracott. Albert is a boy from Devon, England, whose father buys A thoroughbred colt when they needed a ploW horse for their rocky farmland. Through vignettes of the boy's relationship with his horse, the movie endears the audience with the fate of his horse when the turnip patch melts away with a rainstorm.

World War I becomes a surreal adventure from recruitment, war training and war which is full of fears, sadness and eventual salvation, as the horse who went to war is rescued by a French girl and her grandfather. Happiness is short-lived and the horse goes back to war. Look for the tanks and the immense guns used in the battle of the Somme. Without spoiling the end, the movie redeems itself and has an ending reminiscent of "Gone with the Wind."

-- Alfred Richner, Duluth

3 out of 4 stars

A friend of mine told me that he thought "War Horse" was a corny title and therefore it was probably a corny movie. All I can say is don't judge a book by its cover. As corny as THAT sounds, this movie is anything but corny.

Based on a children's novel set just before, and during, World War I, the story begins with a boy growing up on his father's farm with a horse that his father eventually has to sell to get the money to save the farm. The horse is then shipped off to the front lines as part of the last practical use of horses in warfare where horses are considered expendable, and more than 80 percent of them are killed in the conflict.

For a war movie directed by Steven Spielberg, this movie doesn't have the same emotional impact of some of his other films, such as "Saving Private Ryan." However, he is a master at building a sentimental attachment to his characters as the horse suffers terrible hardships, and eventually is found mired in barbed wire in "no man's land," but somehow survives.

Good acting with some violent war scenes, but still a very well-done, feel-good movie for the entire family.

-- Steve Kalberg,Lawrenceville

4 out of 4 stars

I was captivated by Steven Spielberg's masterpiece, "War Horse." I didn't want to see this movie for fear of bloody carnage (as in "Saving Private Ryan"), but upon urging from my movie buddy, I succumbed and was glad I relented. "War Horse" is a courageous story which teaches love is never lost, as long as hope survives. Caution: This is a war movie which contains graphic scenes of human and animal cruelty.

"War Horse" introduces Jeremy Irvine (Albert) and stars Peter Mullan (father), Emily Watson (mother), uncaring David Thewlis (landlord) and a team of horses. "War Horse" unfolds beautifully in the lushness of Devon, England, as Albert trains thoroughbred "Joey" to be a plow horse in an effort to save the family's farm. A bond develops between man and beast and when Joey is sold to a British cavalry officer in exchange for rent money, a devastated Albert enlists to fight for country and also to find Joey and bring him home. The story follows the struggles of Albert in WWI, but it's just as much about man as it is beast (think Elliott and "ET"). Spielberg masterfully produces human emotion from the horse -- fear, anger, despair, joy and love -- as only Spielberg can do.

The remarkable "War Horse" continues to tread on my heartstrings days later.

-- Myra Simons, Buford