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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 of Capistrano: It has been said the Christian saints are the world’s greatest optimists. Not blind to the existence and consequences of evil, they base their confidence on the power of Christ’s redemption. The power of conversion through Christ extends not only to sinful people but also to calamitous events. 
<p>Imagine being born in the 14th century. One-third of the population and nearly 40 percent of the clergy were wiped out by the bubonic plague. The Western Schism split the Church with two or three claimants to the Holy See at one time. England and France were at war. The city-states of Italy were constantly in conflict. No wonder that gloom dominated the spirit of the culture and the times. </p><p>John Capistrano was born in 1386. His education was thorough. His talents and success were great. When he was 26 he was made governor of Perugia. Imprisoned after a battle against the Malatestas, he resolved to change his way of life completely. At the age of 30 he entered the Franciscan novitiate and was ordained a priest four years later. </p><p>His preaching attracted great throngs at a time of religious apathy and confusion. He and 12 Franciscan brethren were received in the countries of central Europe as angels of God. They were instrumental in reviving a dying faith and devotion. </p><p>The Franciscan Order itself was in turmoil over the interpretation and observance of the Rule of St. Francis. Through John’s tireless efforts and his expertise in law, the heretical Fraticelli were suppressed and the "Spirituals" were freed from interference in their stricter observance. </p><p>He helped bring about a reunion with the Greek and Armenian Churches, unfortunately only a brief arrangement. </p><p>When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, he was commissioned to preach a crusade for the defense of Europe. Gaining little response in Bavaria and Austria, he decided to concentrate his efforts in Hungary. He led the army to Belgrade. Under the great General John Hunyadi, they gained an overwhelming victory, and the siege of Belgrade was lifted. Worn out by his superhuman efforts, Capistrano was an easy prey to an infection after the battle. He died October 23, 1456.</p> American Catholic Blog When we are linked by the power of prayer, we as it were, hold each other’s hand as we walk side by side along a slippery path; and thus by the bounteous disposition of charity, it comes about that the harder each one leans on the other, the more firmly we are riveted together in brotherly love. —St. Gregory the Great

 
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