War Horse: The Real Story

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Fri­day, 9.30pm, SBS One Though I have heard good things about the Steven Spiel­berg block­buster War Horse, it’s one of those movies I just didn’t get around to see­ing. I don’t think it mat­ters very much when it comes to this doc­u­men­tary, a story about how the British Army took more than one mil­lion horses to World War I. Things be­gan with a kind of con­scrip­tion for horses, a mas­sive call-up in which mounts from ev­ery farm in the land were req­ui­si­tioned. In 1914, be­fore the call-up, the British Army had just 26,000 horses. Some of the his­tor­i­cal footage in this grip­ping and of­ten mov­ing doc­u­men­tary has been colourised, which adds a strangely con­tem­po­rary el­e­ment to the vi­sion. For some rea­son a horse in colour seems much more vul­ner­a­ble than a horse in black and white. Horses went to war and they fought and died along­side cav­al­ry­men. They were no match for Ger­man ma­chine-guns, and many died de­spite the best ef­forts of men on the front­lines to look af­ter them. A ter­rific ad­di­tion to sto­ries of man’s bond with horse, and a be­lated ac­knowl­edg­ment of an­i­mals lost in war.

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