Rarely does a director ask, “What if I took all kinds of characters from other movies and threw them into a historical movie to see what history would be like?!!?! LOL?!”
War Horse tackles this startlingly experimental narrative landscape with aplomb!
First off: the goofy kid who was the main character. It’s Goofy from all those Disney cartoons! He rarely speaks, has a positive attitude, and he likes wearing vests. No other character in the universe could have believably given such a goofy grin while gazing at a newborn foal. Only Goofy could have pulled that off!
Possibly the most dramatically noticeable character is the Obi-Wan Kenobi character (from Star Wars) who leases War Horse from the goofy kid. He uses Jedi mind tricks to get the kid to let the horse go, and then later, when he is shot down in battle, he simply vanishes, just like Obi-Wan would have done if this alternate history were real!
Around the time when War Horse goes to war, the Black Stallion enters the film. This scene-stealing character catches the eye of all horsers throughout the film (move over War Horse–there’s a classic horse character on screen!). You may ask yourself, what is the Black Stallion doing in the middle of World War I? Alternative history kapow!
Oh, and then there’s Defense of the Dark Arts instructor Remus Lupin, from the world of Harry Potter. In this alternative history, he is a very lenient landlord. He could have expelled Goofy’s family for not having the rent, but instead he gave them many months to plant and harvest a crop in order to come up with the late rent–with no interest! That’s pretty cool, especially since he could have easily hexed them (he didn’t even stupefy them for fun–wait a minute, maybe he did, because they sure acted stupid sometimes!).
I’m still trying to figure out what movie the alcoholic apologist character is from. She is played by Emily Watson, whose performance makes a compelling argument for it being okay to drink away your farm, so long as you have seen some stuff that you can’t talk about.
It’s fun to see all these characters interacting with each other on screen, but it’s even more compelling to see how these characters changed history itself! The most striking impact is that the Germans and the French both speak English! Throughout the film, your mind is pleasantly baffled by the sheer awkward potential of so many Europeans sharing a unified language! Why, it boggles the tongue! You might ask, “How can one even tell the difference between the English and German soldiers in this film?” Well you can’t! It’s alternative history!
Another striking impact on history is that the world’s economy becomes even more unstable than in our reality. At the beginning of the film, 30 guinea is a huge price to pay for a thoroughbred, whether or not the horse can plow a field. But it’s just an hour into the film and already 30 guinea isn’t nearly enough to pay for the horse (which is why Obi-Wan just leases War Horse, instead of making a purchase)! Yet, we can assume that since Goofy’s parents didn’t lose the farm after their turnip failure that the 30 guinea windfall from leasing War Horse was suddenly enough to pay the rent. Oh, please, let us continue to live in a reality where Goofy is just a cartoon because I don’t think I could handle such extreme fluctuations!
I think the War Horse character should have gotten more lines, but despite this weakness, I still give this movie 30 stars for its innovative approach to story telling and the beautiful use of the Black Stallion character!