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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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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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