This War Horse rave is not just another arising of the Poland curse. Others have told me that Steven Spielberg‘s film choked them up also, and who am I to say that’s lame or invalid? It isn’t wise or considerate to rag on anyone for succumbing to an emotional film. We all have our weak spots. I melt down every time I watch the last acts of Carousel and The Best Years of Our Lives and three or four others I could name.
But I know whore-ish, patently phony, cornball filmmaking aimed at families and kids when I see it. As I summarized yesterday, “War Horse is Darby O’Gill and the Little People go to war with a horse.” And for anyone to say, as Poland has, that War Horse delivered “some very powerful, very real human emotions”….well, I’m speechless. I throw up my hands. Maybe a part of Poland has been opened up by having been a dad for the last couple of years. You let sappy stuff in when you have young kids that you wouldn’t otherwise. I’ve been there; I remember.
“I will admit now that I shed tears watching this film,” Poland said earlier today. “More than I’d like to admit. And I don’t feel like I was manipulated at all. I felt like I was a witness to some very powerful, very real human emotions. And one cannot help but to root for this horse like you would root for any of the great heroes of the movies. He is not anthropomorphic, but he does embody the traits of persistence, courage, and survival that most people would love to feel in themselves and certainly would love to see in those they love.
“And most importantly, you want him to be loved…to not have to show that persistence and courage and survival under fire, even though we know it’s there. This is, really, what all the characters want for themselves and their loved ones in this film…whether the soldiers or the parents or the grandparents or the crowds that gather now and again through the story.”