In Proverbs 21:31 it says that the horse is made ready for the day of battle but victory rests with the Lord. I personally feel that there is no better way to start off this week’s review of War Horse by Michael Murpurgo. The children’s book recounts the experience of World War I through the eyes of a farm horse from Devon England named Joey. Who is purchased against his will by the army to become an asset to the soldiers of the war in many ways. Joey’s main goal, however, is simply to return home to his previous owner Albert who enters the war only to find his horse.
The book itself though it is fairly small in size carries an important lesson about the friendship between all animals and humans alike. It also is able to provide a surprising and somehow very emotional look at World War I on the battlefield all the while using the mind of the horse. This is impressive considering that at times I felt I was reading the thoughts and feeling of a human being not a four-legged animal. Joey as he goes through his adventure eventually spends time on both sides of the war with both armies and in the process becomes a celebrity among the men.
As I mentioned before the book carries a lesson about the friendship between all creatures including but not limited to humans and horses. Joey, within the book, befriends another horse named Topthorn at the beginning of the war and it’s this friendship that shapes most of his experiences during the time he spends on the front lines. The way in which their friendship unfolds and is described by Joey is touching and at times beautiful. There is also a second message of antiwar in the novel which is best illustrated I believe when two soldiers flip a coin in order to decide which side gets to keep Joey after he is cut free from the barbed wire between the two trenches….
The film version directed by Steven Spielberg is lovely.The film not only able to show Joey’s journey in its entirety but it is able to do so without a single word from the horse’s mouth no voice over required. The film also does a nice job of showing Albert’s Journey through war to find Joey, which is something the book almost gives no detail on at all. The Film doesn’t have a bad cast of actors either and it was an oscar nominee in 2012 as well for Best Picture among others. The book was also turned into a stage play complete with giant horse puppets that did rather well earning a few Tony Award nominations along the way.
War Horse, although it is fictional, tells the story of how one horse can change an entire war and how it affects all who come in contact with his kind spirit. So I leave you with this question what do animals really teach us humans and likewise what do we as human beings teach them?