Devon, 1914. The Great War looms and for simple farm boy Albert (Jeremy Irvine) its biggest wrench will be that his closest companion, a beautiful thoroughbred horse named Joey, is set to be sold to the army. Since his father purchased the stallion to spite his landlord, Albert has trained and reared him, reluctantly sending him to plough and joyously riding him across picturesque English fields.
But now, with the country at war, Joey has been shipped to mainland Europe to face the horror of battle, leaving a lasting impression on any human lucky enough to come into contact with him. Meanwhile, in his wake, Albert desperately attempts to enlist in the army to be reunited with his beloved friend.
Fourteen steeds were used to take Joey from young colt through to ageing nag and, as animal actors go, each gives a beautiful performance in a drama that oozes Steven Spielberg throughout. The legendary director eloquently lifts the story from the pages of Michael Morpurgo's novel (and the hit West End play), painting a beautiful vista of wartime Britain using brushstrokes honed in epics such as Saving Private Ryan and his small-screen smash The Pacific.
This feature is much more family friendly than his previous war-based efforts, and his canvas seeps wholesome sentimentality. As we have come to expect from a Spielberg production, the feature received plenty of Academy recognition, fetching six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Cinematography. British stars Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch continue to see their stock rise in the movie world, giving stirring and poignant turns as brave yet fearful soldiers.