Companions (2011)

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German title Companions
Original title Was horse
Country of production United Kingdom , United States
original language English
Publishing year 2011
length 146 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
JMK 12
Director Steven Spielberg
script Lee Hall ,
Richard Curtis
production Kathleen Kennedy ,
Steven Spielberg
music John Williams
camera Janusz Kamiński
cut Michael Kahn

Companions is an American - British war film directed by Steven Spielberg in 2011. The film is based on Michael Morpurgo's youth book and bestseller War Horse from 1984, which has also enjoyed great success as a theater adaptation of the same title since 2007 .

With a budget of 66 million US dollars , Companions were filmed in Farnham , Wiltshire , Devon , Longcross , Luton , Twickenham Film Studios and Wisley . The film premiered on December 4, 2011 in New York City and was released in US theaters on December 25, 2011. The film opened in Germany on February 16, 2012. Companions were successful at the box office, grossed 177 million US dollars worldwide and received mostly positive reviews.


Farmer Ted Narracot is at a horse auction to buy a horse for arable farming . However, a young half-breed catches his eye. In arrogance against his landlord Lyons, who wants to buy the horse, Ted bids until he is accepted at a high price. Ted's wife and the landlord Lyons are not enthusiastic because the horse is supposed to plow a field, which horses that are high in blood are not built for. But Ted's son Albert Narracot decides to train the horse and get used to the plow so that his father can pay the debts he owes his landlord. Lyons also issues an ultimatum: If Ted Narracot can't till the field, he wants the half-blood horse for himself. Albert calls the horse Joey and begins to train it carefully and to build trust. He manages to successfully plow the field with Joey; it promises to be a good harvest, but in a storm the field is flooded and the earth that holds it is washed away.

At the same time Great Britain enters the First World War . The military is looking for soldiers. In his distress, Ted sells Joey to the military. Albert tries to buy his four-legged friend back, but fails. Captain Nicholls, now the new owner of Joey, promises Albert to bring him back after the war. Nicholls and the soldiers of the British Army come to the front in France. In a surprise attack they want to wipe out a German camp. The plan seems to work at first, but the German soldiers flee into a forest, from where the British soldiers now come under fire. Nicholls falls in a hail of bullets, Joey escapes into the forest without a rider, where he is captured by German soldiers.

First he is supposed to be shot, but Günther, a young German soldier, stands up for him. Since Joey is able to pull the ambulance, his life is spared - he is now in the service of the German army . Günther and his fourteen-year-old brother Michael look after the horses in the German battalion . Michael receives the order to march to the front, while Günther is supposed to stay with the horses in the camp. Günther saddles Joey and Topthorn, who has become Joey's companion, and rides after the foot soldiers to get Michael away from the front. Together the brothers flee to a mill, in which they can only hide for a short time - German soldiers find the two of them and they are shot for deserting .

The horses are overlooked in the mill until the next day the young girl Emilie finds the animals. She brings Joey and Topthorn to her grandfather's farm, who is concerned about the find. A short time later, German soldiers arrive at the yard to get provisions for the army camp. They take everything with them that can somehow be recycled. Emilie hides both horses in her room so that they are not discovered. On Emilie's birthday, her grandfather gives her an old saddle that used to belong to Emilie's mother. The grandfather is concerned that Emilie, who has weak bones, could injure herself while riding, but allows her a little ride. Emilie is surprised by the German soldiers who take Joey and Topthorn from her. The two have to pull the heavy guns for the artillery, which is a strenuous and often fatal job for the horses.

Time flies. In 1918 Albert also moved to the front in France, still hoping to find his horse. Joey and Topthorn continue to work with the Germans, but Joey's companion dies of exhaustion. The half-breed finally manages to escape from the German army. Without looking around, he runs across the battlefield, but gets caught in the barbed wire of German barricades and falls. Some time later, British and German soldiers notice that there is apparently a horse in the no man's land between the fronts . After the bait calls were unsuccessful, despite all the danger, a German and a British soldier decide to go to Joey. They discover that he is caught in the barbed wire and together they free him. They even get into conversation in a friendly manner. After Joey has been freed, a coin toss is made to let the British soldier keep the horse.

Joey is taken to the British camp. The officer finds that the horse is so badly injured that it should be shot . Albert is also wounded after a poison gas attack and, temporarily blind, in the camp. His friend tells him about a "wonder horse". Albert suspects that it is Joey. He lures him with an owl call he taught him as a young horse and can identify him. It is decided to take care of Joey instead of killing him.

When the war ends, Joey is due to be auctioned off by order. The comrades want to help Albert to buy him back and put all their money (£ 29) together. Emilie's grandfather suddenly appears at the auction and he buys Joey for 100 pounds. His granddaughter was killed in the war and Joey is the only thing that reminds him of her. When the grandfather tries to lead the horse away, it runs back to Albert. But Albert speaks well to Joey, knowing that Joey will be fine. Grandfather is touched by it and gives Joey back to Albert, saying that Emilie would have wanted it that way. Ultimately, Joey and Albert can return to their farm in England, where Albert is hugged by his parents.


source rating
Rotten tomatoes

English-language reviews received War Horse mostly positively. Of 196 reviews collected from Rotten Tomatoes , 77% are positive.

Volker Probst writes on : "No question about it, the strip moves right on the border between kitsch and cliché on the one hand and brilliant visual and narrative power on the other."

Daniel Kothenschulte judged the film a bit more positively in the Frankfurter Rundschau : “Janusz Kamiński's“ companions ”, whose camera eye masters the Technicolor palette as well as the black and white of“ Schindler's List ”, was put into the picture. It is a cinema of images and sounds: John Williams wrote his most beautiful film music in a long time, for good dramatic motives - his hero, a horse, cannot speak. ”The journalist subsequently describes“ Companions ”as perhaps Spielberg's best film .

Peter Körte wrote in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung : “The simplicity of the narrative is not contradicted by the fact that Spielberg's noble simplicity and quiet grandeur of the story are visually and acoustically pretty bombastic. One could also say that “companion” is “Saving Private Ryan” with a horse and without D-Day . "

David Steinitz wrote in the Süddeutsche Zeitung : “Spielberg wants to unite everything in this huge panorama, doggedness and solidarity, empty pathos and love, horror and happiness. 'Companions' is characterized by an acute lack of time, is inspired by wild action - a compulsion to have to show everything. Which is actually the opposite of classic Hollywood epic cinema. "


Before filming, the horses only had three months to train. Bobby Lovgren trained the horses and Dylan Jones, Bill Lawrence and Zelie Bullen worked as horse trainers on the film.

During the film fourteen different horses played the role of Joey, eight of them represented the adult Joey, four the young stallion and two the foal. four horses embodied the second horse, top horn. Up to 280 horses played in individual scenes. A farrier on the film set replaced the horses' shoes that were lost in the mud.

Voice actor

The voice actors for the German version:


In the film, German soldiers from 1914 are already wearing steel helmets of the M1916 model , which were only introduced into the German army in 1916.


Academy Awards 2012

Nominations in the categories:

  • Best movie
  • Best production design
  • Best camera
  • Best film score
  • Best sound mix
  • Best sound editing

Golden Globes 2012

Nominations in the categories:

  • Best film - drama
  • Best film score

BAFTA Awards 2012

Nominations in the categories:

  • Best camera
  • Best film score
  • Best production design
  • Best tone
  • Best visual effects

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Release certificate for companions . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , November 2011 (PDF; test number: 130 519 K).
  2. Age rating for companions . Youth Media Commission .
  4. War Horse . In: Rotten Tomatoes . Retrieved March 5, 2012. 
  5. a b Review by Rotten Tomatoes , accessed October 5, 2014
  6. a b Review by Metacritic , accessed on October 6, 2014
  7. Companions in the Internet Movie Database (English)
  8. Volker Probst: Riding lessons with Spielberg: "Companions" is not a pony farm. In: . February 16, 2012, accessed October 3, 2014 .
  9. ^ Daniel Kothenschulte: Between the Fronts , article of February 16, 2012 in the Frankfurter Rundschau , accessed on February 16, 2012.
  10. Peter Körte: Spielberg puts everything on a horse. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, February 12, 2012, p. 26.
  11. David Steinitz: Vom Ackergaul zum Kriegshelden , article from February 16, 2012 in the Süddeutsche Zeitung , accessed on February 23, 2012.
  12. ^ A b c Erica Larson: Movie Magic, Makeup, and Horse Tricks Shape War Horse . In: The Horse , November 18, 2011. 
  13. a b Jojo Moyes: Horses groomed for Hollywood stardom . In: Daily Telegraph , July 12, 2011. 
  14. ^ Barb Owens: Ellensburg man trains horses for Hollywood movies . In: Daily Telegraph , December 1, 2010. Retrieved August 19, 2011. 
  15. Under Her Spell . In: ABC , November 10, 2011. Archived from the original on November 12, 2011. Retrieved on November 14, 2011. 
  16. Under Her Spell - Transcript . In: ABC , November 10, 2011. Archived from the original on January 11, 2012. Retrieved on November 14, 2011. 
  17. Baz Bamigboye: As he prepares for the release of his latest epic, War Horse, Steven Spielberg reveals why he gave the lead to an unknown . In: Daily Mail , December 2, 2011. 
  18. Chrisopher Rosen: Richard Curtis on 'War Horse,' Working With Steven Spielberg and the Prescience of 'Love Actually' . In: . December 9, 2011. Archived from the original on July 23, 2012. Retrieved on December 10, 2011.
  19. ^ Karen Spinner: Artist scores job on the set of War Horse film . In: Horse and Hound , July 17, 2011. Archived from the original on December 10, 2012. Retrieved July 29, 2011.  , Memento
  20. Companions. Retrieved August 27, 2015 .