Welcome to the sixth edition of Dr Tinman’s Ignorant Remedies for the Aching Soul. I am Dr Tinman, life-doctor and former builder of tiny Scandinavian model houses.

Over the past month and a half, I have been providing you with exceptional pieces of advice to help you escape the existential filth-pit that is your life.

This week is no exception. And while I have been told that writing out “prescriptions” on post-it notes does, in fact, break several laws (except Newton’s Three Laws of Motion – which are only violated if a lavender-coloured note is used), I shall continue to metaphorically bathe your emotional sores with my sponges of understanding. And so, we move on to this week’s question:

Dear Dr Tinman,
Should I see Steven Spielberg’s War Horse on DVD?
Not Anthony Sharwood

Dearest Not Anthony Sharwood,

I must begin by saying that I have not seen this movie. I am told it was recently released in moving picture houses across the nation. But due to my severe allergic reaction to dark, enclosed spaces, proximity to strangers, projected light and Emily Watson, I was unable to attend a viewing.

Earlier this week, I missed $1 Tuesday at my local video rental business – which allows customers to rent films for $1. So unfortunately, person who isn’t Anthony Sharwood, I shall have to wait until next week’s $1 Tuesday.

And because I am a moral, upstanding man of dignity and honesty, I will not be engaging in the practice commonly known as “pirating”. Also, I don’t know how.

But back to the issue at hand. There are really two questions you need to ask yourself: Do I like war movies? And do I like horse movies?

Obviously, you have a passing interest in both, given the title of the film in question.

Personally, I love a good war movie. There’s frenetic action, powerful narrative and that sniper guy in Saving Private Ryan who shoots other sniper guys through the scope. I even didn’t mind that war movie starring Mel Gibson made before his multiple public and horrifically-racist meltdowns.

Often, I have viewed moving war scenes where two battle-weary soldiers discuss their dreams and fears against the backdrop of terrible carnage and unimaginable cruelty. And each and every time, I have thought: This scene would be so much better if it featured a horse.

The horse wouldn’t necessarily have to have a big part - it wouldn’t even have to have any dialogue. It could just passively stand there in the background and chew grass or drink moonshine out of a tiny mug or whatever it is horses do. Every so often, the horse could do that thing horses do where they scrape at the ground with one of their front hooves. I think that would help move the story along.

Which brings us to horse movies. These typically tend to comment on the relationship between man and beast by having a small child or stern, stoic adult befriend a horse (which often dies for dramatic effect). Sometimes, the horse is brown. Sometimes, it is white. But it always a strong and noble companion who is loyal ‘til the end. That’s why people always enjoy horse movies. The Horse Whisperer, for example, is about Robert Redford being a very good-looking person who talks to horses in an effort to steal Sam Neill’s wife. If only every movie were about that.

As far as I can tell from briefly glancing at the DVD cover (which depicts a horse and a man in war uniform), War Horse brings these two magnificent genres together. Originally, I thought it was about a war between two groups of horses, with one horse in particular being a talented sniper who can shoot other sniper horses through the scope. But alas, it is not. Nevertheless, a review on Rotten Tomatoes describes it as “proudly sentimental” and an “emotional drama that tugs at the heartstrings” – which I think means that the horse probably dies at the end.

It is also directed by Steven Spielberg, the genius behind the endlessly-nightmarish horror film E.T: The Extra Terrestrial. So, there is a good chance that the soldier in the movie befriends the horse by making it follow it a trail of M&M’S – until scientists try to steal it, causing him to escape on a bicycle with the horse in the front basket so they can leap a ravine and cast an iconic silhouette against the moon.

While he is yet to develop a reputation as a fine director of horse movies, Spielberg was involved with Jurassic Park – a movie about dinosaurs, which are kind of similar to horses in that they have four legs and can probably be ridden if Robert Redford shares a wine and a laugh with them.

There is also the fact that the film has achieved a score of 72 per cent on Metacritic.com, with a user score of 6.3. While many would have enjoyed the combination of wars and horses, some viewers may have felt that there was either too much war and not enough horse, or too much horse and not enough war. User reviewer “Passenger56” hit the nail on the head when he/she wrote: “If the horses had spoken it would actually have been a better story!”

Although, it should be noted that there is the possibility that Passenger56 is actually a horse who has taped pencils to its hooves so it can use a standard keyboard to encourage film-makers to use talking horses.

So, it would appear War Horse has something for everybody – except people who don’t like wars or horses. Provided you like at least one of these, it is my medical opinion that you should probably see this film.

Kindest of warm regards,

Dr Tinman

Most commented


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    • TChong says:

      07:02am | 19/05/12

      Mels ‘Nam flick is sadly innaccurate. Prime example - his buddy the “slick” pilot saves their asses by turning up in a “gun ship” Huey, just before Mel and his Green Berets are over run.
      As military buffs know “slicks “and “gun ships ” , two different beasts , and during a critical “Broken Arrow “type firefight, a “slick “pilot wouldnt suddenly be flying the “gun ships”.
      Hollywood also did this basic error in the awful “Pearl Harbor”, when , for some unexplained reason, the Kitty Hawk pilots from Henderson Field ended up as the bomber pilots on Doolittles raid.
      History , Hollywood style.

    • Little Joe says:

      07:29am | 19/05/12

      Liked “The Patriot” though ..... but thought that it was a little ironic having two Australians play the lead roles in an American Revolution movie called “The Patriot”.

      “Tora, Tora Tora” is the best film about the bombing of Pearl Harbour ..... even goes into how much the Americans actually knew before the planes arrived.

    • nihonin says:

      09:37am | 19/05/12

      The Ben Affleck movie Pearl Harbour was pretty good, for about 20 minutes after starting, then it bombed straight after (pun intended).

    • Keith Hammersmith says:

      11:15am | 19/05/12

      The patriot made me laugh,  they weren’t patriots at the time of the movie, - they were rebels…

    • Boss says:

      10:15am | 20/05/12

      A military buff would also know that they were air cavalry not green berets. Your comment is sadly inaccurate.

    • Little Joe says:

      07:23am | 19/05/12

      The movie was not that great, but maybe it lost something from the big screen.

    • Dr. Iva Stetha-Scope says:

      08:18am | 19/05/12

      I always liked Francis the Talking Mule movies, that Mule always made an Ass of himself with some of the comedic lines he uttered.

    • stephen says:

      08:45am | 19/05/12

      Yeah I liked them too and thinking back, It’s odd how I, or anyone else for that matter, never laughed at the mule or even its highjinx.
      I can’t remember the movies being drama, though.
      Just what their intentions were, generically speaking, must remain a mystery.

    • stephen says:

      09:03am | 19/05/12

      I like ‘Close Encounters ... ’ which is his Spielberg’s second Art-House movie, and I think he has shortchanged his own talent by making the bulk of his films for as much a monetary return as possible.
      That’s not to say popular films are no good, but that he has sacrificed his technical skills as an exemplary filmmaker, and opted for the jingomaker ... mostly.
      That’s too bad, really, because Ridley Scott has for some time at least out-jingoed him.
      He should have maintained his own vision, and left ours to ourselves.

    • sunny says:

      09:04am | 19/05/12

      Sniper Horses! Brilliant. Highly mobile, 360 degree vision, can live off the land, blend in with the countryside, don’t crack under torture. It’s right up there with Navy Seal Dolphins .. or is it Navy Dolphin Seals I can’t ever remember.

      The squad is making it’s way through enemy territory… wurrzz CRACK
      “SNIPER!!!” “GET DOWN” “MEDIC!” “MEDIIIIICCCCC!” “Did anyone see where the shot came from?!”
      “He’s somewhere over near that horse!”

    • nihonin says:

      01:49pm | 19/05/12

      Cow’s already have guns and are trained in their use.  That’s how we get Swiss Cheese, from the cows practicing.  wink  True story.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      08:57am | 21/05/12

      is there an animal alive you are not an expert in? I have learned more of animal habits (turtles, gophers, now horses) from reading your comments on Punch than a lifetime of watching David Attenborough. You are some sort of ‘vertebrate whisperer’.

    • sunny says:

      11:42am | 22/05/12

      Only the Jaguar Shark of which little is known at all, but I’m hoping to continue the work of Steve Zissou in this field when I finish my current project studying the effects of caffeine on Central American Three-toed Sloths.

    • wearestardust says:

      10:05am | 19/05/12

      Would horses know not to light three cigarettes from the same match?

    • TracyH says:

      11:02am | 19/05/12

      Haha!!! Very funny Dr Tinman!! You are finding your niegh;)

    • SydneyGirl says:

      11:57am | 19/05/12

      Dear Dr. Tinman you forgot to add that War Horse is also intended for ladies who have no knowledge of war or horses but would dearly wish an intimate knowledge of Mr Cumberbatch. Thus in order to be Cumberbitches they trawl IMDB and head off to their local DVD store to hire War Horse and skip all the war and horses till they arrive at Major Stewart.  However, Major Stewart’s moustache is nowhere near as magnificent as yours and is it my eyesight gone wonky or is that a monocle on you? Alas Major Stewart has been a bit amiss on this front too. Please keep at this Saturday gig and maintain the moustache and ask for a walk on part in a period film as the concerned doctor with a romantic bedside manner and soon us ladies will share a wine and a laugh with you even if you lack a horse. Warm Regards, SydneyGirl.

    • Eloise says:

      10:11am | 20/05/12

      Ha! I am a Cumberbitch of the highest honour. I like to Bendie it like come-take-a bath. Loved him since he sold out the MOD in Spooks series 1 (or 2).  I was the third member of the official Mr Cumberbatch Facebook page. Mind you, he’s not quite as hot as Mr Alex Walk-In-My-Door (aka Alex Walkinshaw aka Sergeant Dale Smith from The Bill). Good times…..

    • Scotchfinger says:

      09:02am | 21/05/12

      SydneyGirl, I am starting to see a pattern in men you desire; typically tall, strong types from period films. Do you perchance have a wall covered in posters of Bogart?

    • SydneyGirl says:

      11:00am | 21/05/12

      Surprisingly my partiality to strong, silent period film types doesn’t include Bogart - mostly because its hard to notice him when Bacall is around. And I never had posters, even in my teens. Also its not always dead dudes, the new Hulk is all the rage amongst my friends and I concur.

      And hey a man and a horse beats wall to wall carpeting of The Punch’s pages by Craig Thompson!! Just looking at him you know he is up to no good.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      11:24am | 21/05/12

      ha ha yes a classic case of media driving a story on and on, long past the point where the public have any interest in it. A sleazy politician with questionable morals? Oh my goodness, rare as the tooth of a hen!!

    • SydneyGirl says:

      12:58pm | 20/05/12

      Indeed a Cumberbitch of the highest honour! I first saw him in To The Ends of the Earth and he was PERFECTLY NORMAL so hey BC you do not have to be STRANGE, REPRESSED or EVIL all the time, please do rom-coms! I don’t think he was hot till the Sherlockites got their mitts on him but surprisingly it is possible to have your own special shrine to the Cumberbatch without getting deeply annoyed at his growing popularity.

      These are the important topics that should be discussed on The Punch and I thank you for letting me know about Alex, Eloise.  Everything else attracts Abbott fanboys and girls, the I hate Gillard so much that perhaps I have a buried secret desire to take her into my arms or at the very least Freud will have something to say about my skewed maternal relationship brigade, the Boys it’s time to gang up on the Girls sort - the sisterhood refuses to form this clusterf**k being vastly more sensible - and the social maladjusteds.

      Thus henceforth I shall only comment on Dr Tinman articles. I believe I can stare at that magnificent moustache forever!

    • Eloise says:

      05:16pm | 21/05/12

      BAH! Those damn Sherlockites…I share your lament, for I was once held hostage in a moving vehicle with a recent convert to BC post Sherlock Series 1. I swear, it was like being stuck with a One Direction fan for about 6 hours - and I’ve never wanted to taser my eardrums so much. Personally, I’d like to see Mr ComeTakeABath in an ITV adaption of the ballet ‘The Red Shoes’, with the two principal male characters, Helpmann and Massine replaced by Bendie and Alex and, instead of the shoemaker and the boyfriend, interpreted as Oliver Cromwell and King Charles I….but that’s just me. Haza!!

    • SydneyGirl says:

      06:42pm | 21/05/12

      Exactly Sherlockites are One Directioners with better taste and have no business distressing the third member of the official Mr Cumberbatch Facebook page. I sympathise.

      Also Eloise you win the Internetz today, I have never read anything more splendid than this Cromwell/Charles set up via The Red Shoes featuring Bendie and Alex. Bring it On!

    • Eloise says:

      04:10pm | 22/05/12

      “Exactly Sherlockites are One Directioners with better taste and have no business distressing the third member of the official Mr Cumberbatch Facebook page. I sympathise.”

      My thoughts exactly. How dare they. And thank you -  instead of losing one’s feet a la ‘The Red Shoes’, one would lose one’s head….


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