Artistic Response to War

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The film War Horse directed by Steven Spielberg focuses on the story between a farm boy and a horse his family obtains. What makes this film unique is that this film takes place prior and during World War I, which was the last major war to see the extensive use of horses in warfare and combat. While the main focus of the film is how the horse makes it through the war, Spielberg provides a detailed look of what skirmishes were like during World War I, a subject that takes a back seat compared to other wars in history. While much of the movie focuses on the use of the horses, the film also provides how the trenches looked and worked, the weapons used, and the overall feel of war in World War I.

War Horse responds to war by showing the harsh and complicated reality of war, especially one that was nothing to what the world had seen at that time. Even to the modern world, World War I was unlike any other war. Chemical warfare was first introduced and heavily used, such as mustard gas. Chemical warfare was something most soldiers did not know how to handle, and so many perished because they were not given the proper information on how to defend against gas. Modern weapons were introduced as well. World War I was also known for the trenches, and the rough life that came with it. The film also shows how war affects everyone and everything, and does not discriminate against race, gender, age, or species. The film also shows how war affects those that aren’t even involved in taking sides, as seen with the French family who makes a living making jam. The family, who wishes to take no part in the war and wish to live as normal as possible, are quickly thrust into the meanness and evil that war is when the daughter is harassed by the Germans.

Despite being as realistic as Hollywood can allow, War Horse still manages to provide hope for the characters, and audiences, to hold onto. Hope is an important message to convey to viewers because hope helps wish war and violence to end quickly. Once that hope is restored, then there is the hope that nothing as horrible as a war will ever happen again. That hope can be remembered and held onto by someone, or a group of people, and come the time that violence is desired to achieve one’s means, then maybe that time will call for peace instead of violence and war.

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