For anyone that knows me, it was inevitable that at some point I would write a review of War Horse. Horses are some of, or maybe even the most, sensitive creatures I have ever met. And for that, I could not love them more (except when they’re throwing me off into fences and breaking my ankles).
The way I feel about horses is beautifully portrayed in what I believe to be one of Michael Morpurgo’s best books (my other favourite being Why The Whales Came, which hopefully I will find the film and review sometime.) I don’t know if Morpurgo is a horsy chap, but if he isn’t then War Horse is nothing but a credit to his fantastic writing skills.
I would argue that everyone should read Morpurgo books; he is one of the best authors of my generation and age should not put you off his books. However, for what is largely considered a children’s book, War Horse is incredibly heart breaking. I first picked it up to read when I was seven maybe, and I only got half way through before having to give up because it was so sad to read. I only picked it up again two years later when I was a hardened nine year old… Most children aren’t as wimpy as I was though and I certainly feel that children should be exposed to sad books; children are like sponges, they absorb what it around them, and a lot of the time they cope with this much better than adults do. Terrible situations like war, I have found are often best explored at a younger age. Children will be shocked but inquisitive, they’ll have questions and books like War Horse don’t provide answers (as it is fiction) but it certainly provides an insight.
One of my favourite things about War Horse is that it is told from Joey’s perspective. A whole book written from the point of a horse. Personification at it’s very finest. And it is through this personification that Morpurgo shows just how special horses are. The whole plot is just breath taking.
Before I move onto analysing the film, I would just like to point out that I saw the stage production for my 11th birthday, and it is stunning. Magnificent really. The goose/duck (my ornithology knowledge isn’t great) is the BEST character! Go. And. See. It.
Now the film. There was a lot of hype for the film, understandably, but unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to it. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good film, a really good film and I loved that it focused on Joey and Albert’s relationship more than the war, because for me that’s what the story is all about. But the ‘hype’ was unfair to the film because honestly, it was never going to match up. Some of the scenes were brilliant though- mainly the ones where there was a landscape involved. Examples:
Also, Jeremy Irvine is just adorable.
I’ve actually met one of the many horses that played Joey. This isn’t really relevant to the review, I just thought I would name drop…
IMDb gives War Horse 7.2/10 stars and Goodreads gives it 4.06/5 stars. So the book is better- statistically. But I would have to agree; personally I would give the film and 8/10 and the book a 4.5/5.
One last thing, my version of the book has the most memorable front cover and back cover actually, of any book I own. This is my version: http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?q=war+horse+book&num=10&hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&biw=1280&bih=620&tbm=isch&tbnid=DKdmuYXKKHTGoM:&imgrefurl=http://neonandnapalm.blogspot.com/2012/02/is-film-magic-wand-for-book-sales.html&docid=g8Ps9OWgZb7uKM&imgurl=http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-syg9fbvYd5s/TzL_4gdFCNI/AAAAAAAAAFw/slE2DLRL38s/s1600/WAR-HORSE.jpg&w=300&h=475&ei=63qBUOqBN4K_0QXv3oDABA&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=882&vpy=142&dur=932&hovh=283&hovw=178&tx=90&ty=126&sig=111132472298835192325&sqi=2&page=1&tbnh=137&tbnw=88&start=0&ndsp=21&ved=1t:429,r:5,s:0,i:98
And apparently the barbed wire at the bottom says something, but for ten years it’s been bugging me because I still can’t see it.
Actually, now this is the last thing, I should probably mention Farm Boy which is the sequel to War Horse; it’s worth reading if you loved War Horse, but it’s not very long, or very special really, but a pleasant read for a rainy afternoon.
Ciao, Frances xx