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(2011), PG-13 [PG-13*] (137.1min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
April 6, 2011
April 8, 2011

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2011), PG-13 [PG-13*] ... is truly not what I expected

Production (US): DreamWorks II Distribution Co. LLC, Reliance Entertainment, Amblin Entertainment, The Kennedy/Marshall Co
Distribution (US): Walt Disney Studios Potion Pictures
Director(s): Steven Spielberg
Producer(s): Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Revel Guest, Adam Somner, Tracy Seaward, Kristie Macosko Krieger
Screenplay by: Lee Hall, Richard Curtis
Cinematography/Camera: Janusz Kaminski
Music: John Williams
Film Editing: Michael Kahn, Patrick Crane
Casting: Jina Jay
Production Design: Rick Carter
Art Direction: Neil Lamont
Viewed on DreamWorks Distribution Home Entertainment DVD

After watching the show I "felt" this was not a PG-13 film at all. But the CAP analysis model proved my feelings wrong ... again. The final score of 64 for War Horse places it within the range of scores earned by PG-13 films in our comparative baseline database (55 to 67 out of 100). But as "PG-13" as it is no one gets in bed with anyone, no gore drips off the screen, no teens scream obscenities at their parents and no underage drinking is present as are somewhat typical of PG-13 flicks. Each of the Wanton Violence/Crime (W), the Impudence/Hate (I) and the Drugs/Alcohol (D) content investigation areas found enough assaults on morality and wholesome ethics to be R-equivalent in those areas (not because of intensity but rather because of sheer numbers) but the Sexual immorality (S), Offense to God (O) and Murder/Suicide (S) investigation areas earned area scores of 100, 90 and 100 out of 100, each being G-equivalent scores. The scoring distribution is truly not what I expected.

Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine), son of Ted (Peter Mullan) and Rosie Narracott (Emily Watson), witnessed the birth of a foal. That started Albert's life-long attachment with the foal he later named Joey. Albert spent as much time as he could raising and training Joey. It wasn't long before Joey reciprocated Albert's attachment.

A war between Germany and England broke out and, coupled with financial hardships that threaten the farm, Ted sold Joey to Captain Nicholls (Tom Hiddleson) to be his officer's horse. In a bungled skirmish with the supposedly unprepared German army, Capt. Nicholls rode Joey into battle from which Capt. Nicholls did not return. Joey is drafted to be a horse to pull ambulances and weapons.

Event after event led Joey into service which he could no longer tolerate. Joey bolted and became tangled in barbed wire in "no man's land" between the British and the German armies. Both the British and the Germans lost their desire to war and a soldier from each side went into no man's land to rescue Joey from what would have eventually been a fatal entrapment. By a coin toss the British soldier won custody of Joey who was taken out of service for medical attention.

Albert had also joined the British army and became a casualty to war gas. Albert was also taken out of service for medical attention. By a series of happenstances and after four years Albert was able to honor his promise to Joey to be with him again.

There is much, much more to this 137.1-minute movie which I will not try to summarize any further lest I spoil it. But I will give you a full accounting of the content regarding assaults on morality and wholesome ethics. Following are brief discussions of the content per individual content investigation area. But as always the Findings section of this report, the heart of the CAP Analysis Model, is the best source for discovering the full accounting of the content of this film.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - Zero out of 100
Most of the violence in this film appears as battle and warfare violence. There is no gore and no guts blown all over the battlefield but the scenes of war dead strewn about can be graphic. In one case an explosion tossed a body. There are also a number of individualized warfare killings. In a moment of what may be temporary insanity brought on by years of hardship and impending financial catastrophe, Ted Narracott was seen staring down the barrel of a shotgun at Albert ... a shotgun he was going to use to kill Joey. In addition, two German soldiers are executed by firing squad for desertion, a grandfather threatened to kill anyone who harmed his granddaughter and a scene of hopelessness ending in death was seen. The extent of the violence content of this film is clearly equivalent to that in many R-rated films except for the lack of gore typical of many R-rated features.

The extent of the violence content of this film is clearly equivalent to that in many R-rated films except for the lack of gore typical of many R-rated features. Because there is so much violence, to try to summarize it all here would cheat your grasp of the extent of it. Please look to the listing in the Findings section for a full accounting of the violence content.

Though the typical war gore is absent from this film, the violence is still well portrayed. And God has something to say about violence. In many verses God speaks darkly of violence. In Proverb 16:29 in particular He speaks of violence being "catching": that it can lead one "into a path that is not good." It would be wise to seriously consider God's admonitions against violence when deciding for which age stratum, if any, this film is fit.

In addition to God "publishing His findings" about violence, four professional public health agencies have published their findings about viewing violence in and as entertainment: that violence in and as entertainment can, among other things, lead the viewer, especially the young, into real life violence and can lead the viewer into believing that violence is an acceptable means of settling conflict.

Impudence/Hate (I) - 49 out of 100
Atypical of most PG-13 films, this one presents only seven uses of English profanity plus two vulgar British slang terms. [Col. 3:8, Eph. 4:29] In addition to the language content, this film presents a number of instances where one character treats others as low class citizens in addition to an episode of desertion, a series of lies and military pilfering of private property 'for the war effort.'

Sexual Immorality (S) - 100 out of 100
There is no film content applicable to this content investigation area.

Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 47 out of 100
Drinking and smoking appears rather frequently, enough to be equivalent in magnitude to the same content in many R-rated features. And that can be a serious danger to the youth who see this film.

In a 2002 study the American College of Physicians (ACP) revealed that adolescent exposure to drinking in and as entertainment undeniably leads to abuse of alcohol among underage viewers. The report entitled Relation Between Parental Restrictions on Movies and Adolescent Use of Tobacco and Alcohol reports that of 4544 youths from grades 5 through 8 of fifteen Vermont and New Hampshire middle schools (90% of the youths were under fourteen years old) only 16% were completely restricted in their entertainment diets. Within the ACP study population, the prevalence of having tried alcohol without parental knowledge was

  • 46% for those with no viewing restrictions
  • 16% for those with partial viewing restrictions
  • four percent for those with complete viewing restrictions. [Eph. 5:18]

    There is nothing to say that viewing smoking in and as entertainment does not carry the same danger of influence as viewing drinking. Actually, the same matter of behavior modification applies to any behavior demonstrated in and as entertainment, including good behavior.

    Offense to God (O) - 90 out of 100
    There is nothing blasphemous, evil or Satanic about the content of this film. No witchcraft. No sorcery. No occultism. Indeed, in many cases it praises God in prayer and in testimony to faith. Rosie did, however, call people "fool" a number of times. [Matt. 5:22]

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
    Attempted murders, attempted suicides, deaths by war and police action are not incorporated by this content investigation area. The wartime killings in this film were incorporated by the Wanton Violence/Crime content investigation area.



    If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • Prov. 16:29 A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good. [The issue is the violence, the 'way that is not good' no matter how "small" or "fantasy" or "justified" the violence might seem, and its "leading" effect on the observer. "A violent man" can be any character of any age, any gender, human or not in the act of committing (demonstrating in the case of entertainment) violent behavior/action whether for good or evil OR the violent behaviors/actions themselves. Such exposure can and does embolden the viewer into aggression, especially youth. It took years for the American professional health community to finally affirm, probably without knowing it, that which God told us in 1 Cor. 15:33 below. See also Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children: Congressional Public Health Summit for more information. Their findings include:
    --> Children who see a lot of violence are more likely to view violence as an effective way of settling conflicts. Children exposed to violence are more likely to assume the acts of violence are acceptable behavior.
    --> Viewing violence can lead to emotional desensitization towards violence in real life. It can decease the likelihood that one will take action on behalf of a victim when violence occurs.
    --> Entertainment violence feeds a perception that the world is a violent and mean place. Viewing violence increases fear of becoming a victim of violence, with a resultant increase in self-protective behavior and a mistrust of others.
    --> Viewing violence may lead to real life violence. Children exposed to violent programming at a young age have a higher tendency for violent and aggressive behavior later in life than children who are not so exposed.
    Further, God speaks darkly of violence 56 times in the Old and New Testament of the KJV.]
  • Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off [rid yourself of] all these; anger, wrath, malice [kakia: ill-will, desire to injure, wickedness, depravity, evil, trouble, not ashamed to break laws, etc.], blasphemy [blasphemia: impious and reproachful speech injurious to divine majesty], filthy communication [aischrologia:foul speaking, low and obscene speech] out of your mouth.
  • Eph. 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
  • Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. [Since "drunk" is methusko {meth-oos'-ko}: to intoxicate; make drunk; to get drunk; become intoxicated, "wine" can be any intoxicating substance including illegal drugs or abuse of prescription drugs. The issue is do not abuse the body by intoxicating it [1 Cor. 6:19]. Though it is not a sin to drink, it is a sin to get drunk OR to influence to get drunk OR to drink in defiance such as underage drinking.]
  • Matt. 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment [krisis: accusation, trial]: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca [senseless, empty headed: a term of reproach among Jews at the time of Christ], shall be in danger of the council [any session or assembly or people deliberating or adjudicating]: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool [moros: impious, godless], shall be in danger of hell fire.

    Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry

  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend what is vile, embrace it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it.]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    War Horse (2011) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - Zero out of 100
  • father endangering son with a shotgun
  • warfare sequence with blade and gunfire killing, no gore, frequent
  • individualized warfare killing, repeatedly
  • battlefield strewn with dead bodies, no gore, frequent
  • firing squad execution of two deserters, no gore, view of bullet impacts blocked
  • threat to kill
  • explosion tossing a body
  • scene of hopelessness ending in death

    Impudence/Hate (I) - 49 out of 100
  • seven uses of profanity
  • two uses of British vulgar slang
  • treating others as lower class, repeatedly
  • goading to desert
  • desertion
  • series of lies
  • military pilfering of private property 'for the war effort'
  • adolescent disrespect of grandfather

    Sexual Immorality (S) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 47 out of 100
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • smoking, repeatedly

    Offense to God (O) - 90 out of 100
  • four uses of "fool" [Matt. 5:22]

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
  • none found (Warfare killings are not considered murder by the CAP analysis model. See the note at the Murder/Suicide (M) content investigation area discussion.)

    Interested parties, send us your proposal. Your link will appear on each new analysis report prepared during the desired period and, once placed on a page, will not be removed.

    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    * CAP Equivalence to MPAA Rating Scale:
    Please note our new manner of indicating a film's Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating in comparison with the CAP equivalence such as "PG-13 [R-13]." The first term is the Motion Picture Association of America's (MPAA) rating. The second term [in brackets] indicates that which the film earned under the CAP analysis model. In the example, "PG-13 [R-13]" indicates the MPAA rated the film PG-13 but the film earned a CAP final score in the scoring range earned by R-rated movies in the comparative baseline database. Other comparative terms used might be "PG [13-PG]", "G [PG-G] or even 'PG-13 [PG]" as was the case for Alien vs Predator. I doubt there will ever be a "G [R]" used, but only time will tell. The CAP analysis model is Rock-solid. The MPAA is not.

    The current CAP to MPAA** nomenclature is:

    For G rated Films with
    G equivalence: G
    PG equivalence: PG-G
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-G
    R equivalence: R-G<
    For PG rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-PG
    PG equivalence: PG
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-PG
    R equivalence: R-PG
    For PG-13 rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-13
    PG equivalence: PG(13)
    PG-13 equivalence: PG-13
    R equivalence: R-13
    For R rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-R
    PG equivalence: PG-R
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-R
    R equivalence: R
    For NR rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-NR
    PG equivalence: PG-NR
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-NR
    R equivalence: R-NR
    ** G, PG, PG-13 and R are registered trademarks of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

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