How well do you know the movie War Horse?

Jodi C.

Image: TMDB

About This Quiz

This Steven Spielberg epic showed the brutality of war -- and the kindness of humans even in the middle of it -- all through the eyes of a horse! Revisit this 2011 Best Picture nominee with our quiz!

How many horses, total, played Joey?

The main horse you see on screen is an ex-racehorse, Finder's Key. He also played the title role in "Seabiscuit."

This is a classic horse-and-his-boy movie. What, respectively, are their names?

Albert witnesses the horse's birth in the film's first scene. He later gives him the name Joey.

Which correctly describes Joey's markings?

These are not uncommon markings for a horse. But they'll become important late in the film, when Albert must correctly describe his horse to prove ownership.

Who does Ted Narracott, Albert's father, outbid to get Joey?

Ted's friend urges him to get out of the bidding war. Not just because he can't afford a high-priced horse, but because he shouldn't antagonize his landlord.

How much money does Ted buy Joey for?

A guinea equals one pound and one shilling. The script clearly implies that 30 guineas was far too much for a farm horse.

According to one onlooker at the auction, why won't Joey be any good as a farm horse?

"He's half thoroughbred, 'e doesn't have a day's work in him," the man says. Thoroughbreds are a high-strung, delicate breed, prized for racing, but not for everyday work.

Who played Lyons, the landlord?

Thewlis, a character actor, has lent his long face and serious expression to many films. Look for him as King Duncan in the most recent "Macbeth," with Michael Fassbender in the lead.

What kind of birdcall does Joey respond to?

Albert can do an excellent imitation of an owl. Joey learns to come when called this way.

Who played Rose, Albert's mother?

Rose is understandably unhappy when her husband comes home with an expensive half-thoroughbred horse. But she warms to Joey as Albert trains him to be a well-behaved working plowhorse.

Why does Ted have to sell Joey?

Ted takes Joey to town to sell, just as World War I breaks out. This means that cavalry officers are looking for good horses.

Who played Officer Nicholls, who buys Joey?

Nicholls is a kindly sort, who assures the distraught Albert that he'll take good care of Joey. He even offers to "return him to your care" if possible.

How much does Nicholls pay for Joey?

Ted originally wants more, but Nicholls knows the horse isn't worth that much. Albert, meanwhile, desperately offers to work to pay his father back, if Ted will only renege on the deal.

What souvenir goes to war with Joey?

Ted served in the Boer War, and brought home medals as well as the pennant. But, soured on war, he tried to throw all of them out. Rose rescued the pennant and medals from the dustbin. (That's "garbage can," for American quizzers!)

What is the name of the fellow war horse Joey "befriends"?

Fun fact: Though Finder's Key is a bay horse (dark chestnut with a near-black mane and tail), if you look for articles on him online, you'll find a photo in which he was dyed as black as Topthorn for a role. The things he does for his art!

Why does the charge on the German camp go wrong?

The ranking officer, Major Stewart, is forced to surrender after many men and horses die in the charge. Stewart was played by Benedict Cumberbatch, a small role, given his fame now.

After the capture by the Germans, why are Joey and Topthorn spared from being shot?

Topthorn at first shies away from the harness collar, until Joey approaches and calms him about it. Joey, of course, learned to pull in harness by plowing the Narracott fields.

What's in the parcel that Joey receives from Officer Nicholls?

Unfortunately, the package also holds the news that Nicholls was killed in action. This leads Albert to believe that Joey was killed, too.

Where do the German boys, Michael and Gunther, take refuge after deserting?

Gunther decides to desert (with both horses) after his 14-year-old brother is sent to the front lines. It's a noble idea, protecting his brother -- but when they're found, both are shot for desertion.

Why isn't Emilie, the French girl who finds the horses, supposed to ride?

Emilie is being raised by her grandfather after the death of her parents. He reminds her that her mother would not want her to ride, because of her physical fragility. However, Emilie ultimately does ride Joey.

What names does Emilie give to Joey and Topthorn?

Emilie explains that Francois was a boy whom she was in love with, who loved a girl named Marie instead. Claude was a boy who also broke Emilie's heart, but whom she intends to marry some day. French love lives are so complicated!

What does the farmer make, along with Emilie?

It's a bit surprising that in time of war the farmer hasn't switched to a staple food. Still, the German soldiers that barge in seem to enjoy sampling the jams.

When Germans come to the farm, where does Emilie hide the horses?

Seriously, she got them to climb stairs and everything! Maybe it's not so odd: there was a trend decades ago for trying to keep miniature horses as house pets.

When the Germans retake Joey and Topthorn, what are they made to do?

This is hard labor, even for a horse. The German guns, despite being on wheels, are very large and weighty, and Topthorn soon cannot keep up.

How does Topthorn die?

Topthorn simply lies down and dies while in harness. We suspect there were more than a few wet eyes in theaters at this point.

When Albert goes to war, who's in his unit with him?

Yes, both Albert's working-class pal and the landlord's son end up in the same unit that he does. (This seems to mostly be so that Albert can look like a working-class hero next to the snobby David Lyons.

What do a German soldier and a British one come together to do for Joey?

Colin (English) and Peter (German) slowly make friends as they cut Joey loose. It's a scene of goodwill, reminiscent of the famous Christmas Day football (soccer) game between English and German soldiers in WWI.

A running theme throughout the movie is that Joey isn't good at what?

Albert learns this when Joey pulls up short at a stone wall and only Albert flies over. Emilie, too, can't persuade "Francois" to jump. But it's most important when Joey is fleeing a scene of battle -- he runs through barbed-wire fences instead of jumping them, which is how he gets entangled.

How does Albert prove his ownership of Joey?

At first, the officers think Albert is wrong. But when all the mud that splatters Joey is washed away, the marks are revealed, and it's clear that Albert is telling the truth.

Who wins Joey at the auction of war horses?

Emilie, sadly, has died since losing "Francois" to German troops. The farmer tells Albert that the horse is the last thing he will have of his granddaughter.

What persuades the farmer that Joey is really Albert's horse?

The farmer tells Albert he can have the pennant -- and Joey. It's what Emilie would have wanted, he says, and "she was the boss."

When Albert returns home, what has his father died from?

Sorry, that was mean. But after such a sentimental movie, we thought you needed a refreshing shot of cynicism!

Before being made into a film, "War Horse" was a story in what medium?

"War Horse" was first a novel by Michael Morpurgo; it's been called "Black Beauty Goes to War." Later, it became a successful stage play.

Which well-known actor was up for the role of Albert before Jeremy Irvine took it?

The role instead was given to unknown actor, Jeremy Irvine. "War Horse" was his film debut

What was interesting about the casting of Robert Emms as David Lyons?

Apparently, there were no hard feelings about the lead role going to somebody else -- even an unknown. Emms is a bigger man than many!

Which scene required an animatronic version of Joey?

Fortunately, Steven Spielberg is an old hand at working with robotic animals. He famously did so early in his career, with "Bruce," the robot shark in "Jaws."

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