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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

War Horse

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

It is just before the start of World War I in 1914 where in a village in Devon in the English countryside a tenant farmer, Ted Narracott (Peter Mullan), buys a beautiful young horse, Joey, at an auction. He spends money he doesn’t have on the wrong horse because, as his wife, Rose (Emily Watson), tells him, he needed a plow horse. But their son, Albert (Jeremy Irvine), is delighted because he befriended the horse  from the time he was born.

Joey proves he can the work of any horse and plows the rocky field. But the rains come and the crop is lost. Indeed, all looks lost when England declares war on Germany. The army comes recruiting men and buying horses. The soldier who buys Joey promises Albert to bring him home if he can.

Joey and a black steed named Topthorn pair up; they are lost and found by a grandfather and his granddaughter, but ultimately the Germans capture the horses and treat them badly, though a horse wrangler and young foot soldiers try to shield them.
 
At the film’s climax, Joey escapes and runs the gauntlet of no-man’s land, enduring gunfire, bombs, gas, and barbed wire. It is a harrowing, heartbreaking scene that sums up the torture of war of the innocent, symbolized by an animal exhibiting the kind of courage we would all want to have to save those we love.
 
“War Horse” is based on the 1982 children’s novel by British author Walter Morpurgo and was made into a successful stage play in 2007.
 
There are many good things to say about “War Horse”.  In most films featuring animals we learn how we can become more human, more humane, and “War Horse” does this beautifully. Friendship, love, sacrifice are themes that bind the film together.
 
However, the film runs long for a family film. The only interesting characters are the mother, Rose, and the French grandfather (Niels Arstrup) and Emilie (Celine Buckens), the granddaughter. All the others lack depth. Truly, the horses steal the show and our hearts.
 
Many are raving about the cinematography but I think the digital process has over saturated the colors making the film look less real and more like a Pixar production. Some of the way the scenes are framed are stolen right out of classic movies of the past; “Gone with the Wind” and “The Searchers” came to mind.

 “War Horse” is a film about war and the idiocy of the endeavor as led by generals. But the troops will sacrifice everything for their friends, and when it comes to saving stalwart animals, even enemies can come together for the common good – and they do.


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Jacopone da Todi: Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna. 
<p>His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life. </p><p>He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order (once known as the Third Order). Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or "Crazy Jim," by his former associates. The name became dear to him. </p><p>After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Order of Friars Minor(First Order). Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular. </p><p>Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping "because Love is not loved." During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, <i>Stabat Mater</i>. </p><p>On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed "Sister Death" with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the Gloria from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint.</p> American Catholic Blog By immersing our lives in the rhythm of the season, charity can flood our souls and fill us with the happiness for which we were created. We awake Christmas morning prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior not as a memory but as a profound experience of God’s redemptive love.

 
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