Saturday, January 28, 2012

War Horsesh**

A friend took me to a matinee of War Horse. He paid, but only matinee prices. So I feel fine in saying the Academy-nominated Spielberg movie --while technologically impressive and with some powerful battle scenes-- was largely a waste of time.

A Ms Laura Steff at The Huffington Post opines at those of us eye-rollers:
To those who roll their eyes at the movie War Horse being nominated this week for a Best Picture Academy Award, let me say this: The movie is not, as some of those who haven't seen it suggest, just another sentimental story about a boy and his horse. It is not even primarily about a horse in the sense that the original British stage play is.

The cinematic version is much more. It is a story about the greed of the wealthy -- in this case, an English landowner -- and the powerlessness of the poor -- a family that grows turnips on the squire's land. We are reminded that poverty can tear a family apart, in this case pitting father against son and leaving mother to broker the peace.

The movie is also, and primarily, about awful, bloody, World War I ...

 But as a Steven Spielberg movie in IMAX format, War Horse assaults us, both our mind and our body.

It conveys as clearly as any movie I've seen the utter horrors of war, the moments of grace that can occur between enemies and the costs to ordinary men and women who only wish to plow their fields and harvest their turnips.
Well, thank God it's not just a shamelessly sentimental and compulsively manipulative story about a boy and horse, but also about cartoons of greedy rich people, --ooooh----powerless poor people ---aaahhh--and the horrors of war ---eeeeeeh. So much less cliched. Not at all like an extended Dickensian version of Lassie, where the brave pup is stolen by bad people and while Timmy and his poor but plucky Mom weep at home, fights through danger and pain to get home by walking 800 miles in the snow.

At several moments, the very mildly etched characters make 90 degree turns you never saw coming, just to insure a link to the next heart-rending moment. Anyone ever heard of script continuity?

What this HuffPo woman, a "Pulitzer Prize winning journalist" --explains a lot-- fails to mention is that the whole plot is set in motion in the first place by the utterly irresponsible, self-destructive and free whim of the "poor turnip farmer."

And of the central equine hero, "Joey" the miracle horse, even my generous friend, who seemed to like the film, said, "He was no Mr. Ed."


Anonymous said...

Fine blogging! ... Doesn't Heidegger treat these themes in "An Introduction to Metaphysics" (p. 35)? Re Van Gogh's painting of a peasant's two ?left shoes entitled "After the Turnip Fires"? ... Spielberg will surely give to the poor all the money he earns from this movie that exploits their plight for a story line, but in any case not the prodigal son but the owners of the means of theatrical production war accept the karma for the whim of the father.

It might have been more serviceable for Resistance! at the Huffington Post against the military-industrial complex for Ms Steff to remark that WW1 shock'd the socialists including Karl Barth: the Workers' International et al supported the war from within all the nations. "Solidarity" turn'd out to be ruled by Lord Death after all, as Hegel cheerily pointed out in his account of the sublation of the worker into the worker-soldier. Suffragettes too supported conscription even late into the war: to be a full, voting member of civilization means women get to support mustard gas, burning phosphorus, etc -- unless one wishes to dispel such writing and instead elevate war of spirit from the underground up into the cave

P.S. Mr Ed, having logos, was a houyhnhnm. This beast is evidently only a pantomime war horse.

StillWilbur said...

True enough.
The original Mr. Ed dealt with a number of thorny philosophical issues. The following synopsis points out how willing the creators were to challenge the dominant paradigm head-on---something Mr. Spielberg avoids.

Ed decides that he only wants to be ridden bareback and does not want Wilbur to use a saddle on him, so Wilbur then goes and rents a motorcycle.

Anonymous said...

... worker-soldier-hell's angel? ...

BTW, "the 1%" is an official self-designation for the Hell's Angels. A ?politician once spoke in defense of "the 99% of decent law-abiding motorcycle enthusiasts," and the L.S Angels pick'd up on the potential there for a good nickname .)

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