War Horse is a powerful story of redemption
And there are many redemptive echoes embedded in it. Here are a few (spoiler warnings):
- Joey the horse is sold into, essentially, slavery on the Western Front, for the biblically-resonant 30 currency units (Zechariah 11:12-13), having already been bought – extravagantly – for that price by Devon farmer Ted. This brings huge pain to the farmer’s son Albert, who has trained the horse and has a deep master/horse relationship with him.
- Joey’s desire for home and his master survives ‘slavery’ on both sides of the war. His escape across no-mans land is stirring. By now, Albert has volunteered for the army and is being treated for temporary blindness from a gas attack in the trenches. Joey’s ability to respond to his master’s call (a simulated owl call) saves his life, and hastens Albert’s healing.
- Albert then attempts to buy him back at the end of the war for the same 30 pounds, but is outbid at 100 pounds by the French farmer whose now-deceased grand-daughter had previously found and cared for Joey and stablemate Topthorn when they escaped from the German lines. In a gesture of extravagant grace, after learning of Albert’s deeper claim, he gifts Joey to him.
- In different ways, the horse also brings bravery, reconciliation, healing and resolution to other characters in the story.
Damaris study guides
Culturewatch ministry Damaris has produced a study guide and analysis of the film. Join to subscribe to their email newsletter and receive regular commentary on movies and other resources, eg. Iron Lady. (Advance notice: they will soon be publishing free resources for the February release of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, starring Judy Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup.)
Using movies as a ‘good-news discussion starter’
Movie themes are a great way to start conversations, whether on Facebook or face-to-face. They also work very well in a planned group situation, as Krish Kandiah (UK Evangelical Alliance) recounts in relation to a recent student discussion of Shawshank Redemption. This approach works equally effectively in a poor inner-city area of London, where Pastor Michael Kosmas has made a film discussion club integral to his church-planting strategy.
Check Tony Watkins’ excellent guide on running a film discussion evening.
And see our other posts on movies.
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