Having never read the book, nor seen the Broadway play, I was surprised to discover that one of the two Steven Spielberg movies out this holiday season belongs to the minor subgenre of films like The Yellow Rolls Royce, The Red Violin or 20 Bucks, stories whose organizing narrative principle is to follow around an object (in this case a horse) passing hands through multiple owners.
It would be a safe bet to assume that "War Horse" is by far the largest budgeted film ever made in this fairly obscure genre, and it will be interesting to see if it can overcome the pitfalls of the typically episodic nature of this structure, which can be distancing and feel gimmick-y to the audience (despite some epic battle scenes, it didn't as far as I was concerned).
In this golden age of snark, it is a dangerous gambit to make a film whose title can not only mean:
a. a horse used in war
b. something that has become overly familiar or hackneyed due to much repetition in the standard repertoire.
How much of our current mainstream cinema could fall under that last definition?