Filmdrunk had the quickness of mind to run this gag comparing Spielberg's upcoming War Horse with Stiller's Simple Jack, and I salute him for it. But even though those funny pink pills I took last night make quick thinking pretty much impossible, I still may have something to add to the conversation. My thesis: War Horse is Spielberg's version of Bresson's masterful Au Hasard Balthazar. Bear with me...
War Horse plotline: "War Horse begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets...The First World War is experienced through the journey of this horse—an odyssey of joy and sorrow, passionate friendship and high adventure."
Now try this out: Au Hasard Balthazar begins with the remarkable friendship between a donkey named Balthazar and a young girl called Marie, who loves and cares for him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the donkey as he moves through the world, changing and illuminating the lives of all he meets...The fallen, warlike world is experienced through the journey of this donkey - an odyssey of joy and sorrow, deep suffering and profound acceptance."
Yeah, there's a little divergence at the end there, but what can you do? Bresson just lacked that Spielberg touch when it came to happy endings. (Think for just a minute about how powerful Minority Report would have been if it had ended with Anderton's imprisonment.)