ADVERTISEMENT

Baby lions in a habitat trying to find their family, dolphins getting new tails, whales trapped in ice, whatever the story may be, sometimes it just doesn't feel like an interesting concept. I know I might sound cynical, but personally I don't care for heartwarming movies about animals.

What is the difference with "War Horse"?

It's not a story about a person trying to save an animal from death. It's a story about a young boy growing up and his horse during World War I and their struggle to find each other after being separated. The story also conveys how one horse can bring hope to all people, on both sides, during wartime.

The Broadway play, performed at Lincoln Center, was directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris. It has won five Tony Awards, including best play. I was lucky enough to see the play in New York City. It deserved every award it won.

The set design was beautiful. The lighting was top notch. The amazing part of the stage was the torn screen that showed animation throughout the play that blended in with the stage design. But the best thing about the show was the touching performance of the horse, a puppet by the Handspring Puppet Co. It was played so well that it seemed like an actual horse. Whenever there was a noise, its ears would turn. It would neigh and get defensive when it was in trouble. It was amazing to see a puppet seem so realistic.

The play was disturbing and touching -- a reminder that war is painful, but happiness will come again.

War was portrayed on stage, but what can be taken from it is a loving story full of seat-gripping, breathtaking action.

"War Horse" is also the new film in theaters by Steven Spielberg. When going to see this film, I thought the most difficult character to portray would be the horse. The film used a real horse, but could it be as good as the puppet? Albert, the horse's owner, played by Jeremy Irvine, showed love for his horse. The strongest moment in the film is when Joey, the horse, is forced away from Albert. Albert promises, "Wherever you are, I will find you and I will bring you home." Throughout the film, this rings in my head as I'm watching the destruction of war. I wanted Joey and Albert to be reunited, and with every heart-wrenching moment, it always seemed so close but so far away.

In a People magazine interview, Spielberg stated that there are only about 9 1/2 minutes of actual war scenes in this film.

It is a great portrayal of the story. This film is nominated for Golden Globe Best Picture for Drama.

The play and the movie had differences and similarities in their portrayals of the touching story, based on the book by Michael Morpurgo. It's not just another animal movie. It shows how war can tear not only people, but animals, away from their families, and how hope brings them all back together.

I loved both productions. I was blown away by what could be done on a stage. It felt like I was inside a movie and it was all happening around me. In the film, Spielberg brought the story to life. I highly recommend the movie, and if possible, see "War Horse" on stage as well.

I give the movie 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

***

Aaron Maser is a senior at Kenmore West High School.