First off if you haven’t seen Oscar Gold, it was from a Bond parody episode of American Dad:
Tearjerker plans to use his masterpiece tragedy film, Oscar Gold, depicting a mentally retarded alcoholic Jewish boy and his cancer-ridden puppy during The Holocaust, to make the moviegoers cry themselves to death literally.
Now with that out of the way…War Horse is pretty similar. It’s basically the story of a horse where everything gets taken away, as well as for everyone else associated with the horse.
The basic setup is that a horse (Joey) gets born, and a boy (Albert? I’ll call him Albert) nearby tries to gain its affection over the years as they grow up. Joey is close to his mother, and they get separated at an auction. Albert’s father is the winner, although he put pretty much everything on the line just to beat his landlord.
Joey isn’t a workhorse like the family needed, but he miraculously pulls off plowing the fields, and the crops come in nicely! Then thunderstorms take it away and Albert’s dad takes the Joey away to sell to an soldier on the way to war. Albert catches up and pleads so the soldier promises he’ll return Joey after the war if possible.
The soldier soon dies after a poorly planned raid against Ze Germans.
But hey Joey befriends another horse (Topthorn?) at least (whose rider is also killed), and some nice German horse trainer takes them both in for medic cart towing work. Then that guy’s little brother gets pulled to serve on the front lines, so he hijacks both horses and yanks his brother out of the line ready to leave. Freedom!
Then while at a windmill where they’re hiding out, the Germans find and execute them. But they leave the horses at least.
Then a little French girl (Emilie) finds and takes care of them with the help from her grandfather. Her parents are dead and she has some ailment of course. The Germans come around and raid their house and crops to serve the troops, but Emilie manages to hide the horses in her room. They survive the raid!
Later as a birthday gift the grandpa gives Emilie a saddle and finally lets her ride the Joey (which he prevented before because of her mystery ailment), whee!
Then she rides over the hill and is gone for a uncomfortably long time. Joey’s pal horse Topthorn makes chase frantically with the grandpa following behind, only to see Emilie and Joey surrounded by German troops, with them eventually taking Joey and Topthorn away from the sickly girl and her grandpa. The soldier says they’ll be in artillery duty where they’ll be run until they die in about a month or whenever the war is over.
But good news, there happens to be another nice German horse trainer! He tries to leave them out of the heavy duty work to no avail. Topthorn gets pulled to take over for a fallen horse and once again the trainer tries to save him, only to be overruled by his leader. Luckily Joey rushes out of the ranks to volunteer in place to save his pal.
Not that it matters because Topthorn soon gives up on life and Joey goes mad, taking off and ending up in a dead end against a tank. He appears stuck but through some magic of a dip in the path and a wedge shaped front end he manages to gallop over the tank and runs free, no man’s land be damned.
Of course he eventually gets caught up in a crapload of barbed wire during a lull in the battle.
He manages to be freed by a soldier from each side during one of the funnier scenes in the movie, and goes back to the British side, decided by a coin flip.
The soldier takes Joey back to whatever base town looking for a veterinarian, only to get turned down by the human doctors due to the amount of wounded humans already there. After enough pleading (he went through no man’s land!) the doc checks Joey out, only to determine he has some infected wounds and says to put him down. Of course.
Now interspersed in all this Adventures of Joey and Topthorn stuff is Albert’s own journey. I forgot to mention that when Joey was sold he tried to enlist on the spot, but he was too young at the time. Later we find out he did eventually join the cause, along with some other guys introduced early in the film.
In their tour we see the jackass of the group injured, while Albert helps him to safety. Albert’s buddy is scared stiff and remains in the foxhole as everyone charges out. Eventually Albert reaches the German foxhole with some grenade heroics, and his friend later makes a mad dash and ends up there as well. After Albert panics and almost shoots him, they cry and embrace knowing they’ve made it safely.
Then someone else yells “GAS!” as gas bombs go off in the hole and presumably kill Albert’s pal, while Albert himself is just temporarily blinded, as we find out later at that medic facility.
Which brings us back to Joey about to get his head blown up in front of everyone. But someone does a little “toot toot” whistle sound (Albert’s original training call) and gets Joey’s attention! And again right before the soldier is about to fire! Joey is saved by his original owner!
OR IS HE?
Albert says this is his horse from back in the day but the doc doesn’t believe him, particularly after he describes his appearance (four “socks” and a white marking on his head)…which doesn’t match Joey because he’s all dirty and his marks are covered up. Back to face blowin’ up time.
But then Albert says it’s because of the mud and they clean off his legs and face to reveal yes, it is him. Now considering Albert is blind right now I have no clue how he knew Joey was covered in mud, but whatever. Soon the war is declared over, and Joey is finally reunited with Albert in peace.
OR IS HE?
Of course not. Military horses are to be auctioned off, no exceptions. But wait, the troops have all pitched in for an excessively high bid on Joey, day is saved!
NO, NOT THE FRENCHMAN!
Some rich French guy bids it up too high for the boys, and all hope is lost, until Emilie’s grandpa shows up out of nowhere and blows all their bids out of the water. Albert tries to thank him for saving the day only to find out the old man is keeping the horse for himself, since it’s the only thing left to remind him of Emilie (apparently dead at this point).
But the old man pulls out a little flag (a little war thing Albert put on Joey way back) and Albert says it was his father’s, so now the old man gives Joey back saying it’s what Emilie would’ve wanted.
NO MORE TWISTS AND TURNS FINALLY.
The movie ends in GOLD. Literally the only color on screen is from golden glow from the sun providing backlighting as the silhouette of Joey and Albert come home to the farm where Albert’s mother managed to stay alive and his father didn’t drink himself to death.
Oh yeah I forgot to mention his dad has a drinking problem. And a limp.