Lee Hall & Richard Curtis
EXT. DEVON, ENGLAND. A SUMMER'S DAY, 1912.
The bucolic magnificence of the Devon countryside. We fly
low over the high, thick hedges untouched for hundreds of
years. The thick verdant countryside in all its splendor,
ancient woodlands, fields of corn, and finally a paddock in a
typical Devonshire dale.
We come to rest beside three farmers standing over a pregnant
mare. The mare is in distress - she is about to give birth.
The farmers calm the mare and tend to her gently with
assurance and authority.
We pull back to see, ALBERT, a fifteen-year-old farm boy,
watching the whole drama with delight from the paddock gate.
Come on, easy, girl. Easy, girl.
The men hold the mare firmly, but clearly this is a difficult
This is a stubborn one, huh?
There we go. Who's a clever girl?
Moments later - the summer's sun glints off the wet, sticky
hide of the foal (JOEY) - red hide, four white socks and a
distinctive white cross on its forehead.
Soon the creature is attempting its first clumsy steps. It is
both awesome and comical to see the new born creature
struggle to his feet, but eventually, he succeeds.
Title: WAR HORSE
EXT. PADDOCK/FIELD, DEVON. VARIOUS.
We follow Joey's progress over the course of his first year.
His initial fearfulness, his connection with his mother, the
intimacy of their relationship.
As Joey gets strong they run together, frolicking gayly in
the last dregs of summer. Albert looking on. Joey notices him
at the fence and they share a moment of connection.
Spring: flowers are beginning to sprout by the hedgerows. Our
boy Albert runs into the field. He takes an apple from his
pocket - he holds it out tentatively. Joey approaches Albert
with suspicion. Albert gently encourages him.
His mother paws the ground and neighs at Joey. He turns and
runs over the field at her beck and call.
Albert tosses the apple to himself, ruefully - watches in awe
as Joey races away with his mother.
He is a magnificent one year old. His distinctive red coat
gleaming, now it is clear that he is half thoroughbred. He
runs quickly around the field enjoying his own power and
Later - the three farmers open the gate and come into the
field. Both Joey and his mother instinctively canter over to
the two men, expecting food. The three men gently greet the
horses and pet them, then we see one man has a noose made of
a rope. He slips it round Mum's neck. She pulls back, Joey is
shaken and bewildered but before he knows what's happening
the second farmer is trying to get a similar rope around his
neck. Joey balks and pushes the farmer aside, distressed to
see his mother tethered. The farmer grabs Joey again and
struggles with him, enlisting the help of the second farmer.
With some effort they get the rope around his neck and calm
Easy does it. Easy does it. Come on,
steady does it.
Unused to being tethered Joey pulls at the rope but the
farmers are solid and firm. They gently lead Joey and his
mother across the field to the gate and out into the road.
The whole road becomes overtaken by a flock of sheep on their
way to the market. In the distance we hear the bustle of
EXT. THE MARKET. THE SAME.
The farmers lead Joey and his mother through the chaos of the
market and into an auction pen. They find themselves amongst
a hoard of pigs, sheep and cows. Joey is agog at all of these
creatures and all this life he had no idea existed.
The farmers lead the horses into a stall to await the
auction. Joey is bewildered by all the noise - buttressed
against a couple of mules and a cow. He is uncomfortable in
this tight space.
An AUCTION WORKER holds a clipboard out for the lead farmer.
AUCTION MAN 1
Mornin', pop. Put your mark here.
EXT. JOEY'S PEN. THE SAME.
Two men approach the pen.
AUCTION MAN 2
Get the colt...
One man grabs Joey and pulls him out of the pen. Suddenly
there is a look of horror on his face. His terrified mother
realises they are being separated. Joey panics and
desperately tries to get back to his mother, he rises up
throwing the man who is leading him aside. Joey is out of
control. The man regains control of Joey.
AUCTION MAN 3
He pulls Joey away from his mother, who lets out a heart-
rending cry, paws the ground, and crashes her foreleg against
the fence. Joey remains disoriented in the midst of the
market day chaos.
AUCTION MAN 3 (CONT'D)
INT. MAIN AUCTION RING. THE SAME.
The auction ring is full of people of all shapes and sizes.
There is a sense of celebration and busyness about market
We concentrate on two men - Ted Narracott (DAD), in his
forties, clearly both the cares of the world and alcohol have
worn him down before his time, and SI EASTON, his more solid
friend, both working farmers. Just behind Si is his 15 year
old son, ANDREW. Ted has a drink in his hand. They all look
at Joey bridling against the men who are trying to hold him.
Now that's a beauty.
Forget it, Ted. He's half
thoroughbred and not got a day's
work in him.
(points to a plow horse next to
Now, there... There's your ticket.
In contrast to Joey, the solid and bulky plow horse stands
like a rock. But Dad remains fixated on Joey.
But look at him, Si. Look at that creature.
Indeed, Joey is magnificent, his power clearly emerging
because of his upset.
Don't be daft. You need something
solid to plow a field.
(fixed on Joey)
Yeah, but he's something else, that one.
The AUCTIONEER announces the start of the auction...
Alright gentlemen - settle down - settle
down - horses on my right - men with money
in their pockets on my left - it's the
perfect combination. Is Fred Goddard here?
FRED shouts his reply from the crowd.
YES! I's here.
Good - more money than sense. Dave Hill?
I'm here. Yes!
Bugger off, you tight bastard - you've been
coming here for 20 years - never bought so
much as a pork scratching.
The crowd are loving all this.
Dad notices a figure across the ring, LYONS, clearly a man of
money. You can see something light up in Dad's eyes - a
combination of dislike and alcohol.
Joey is led into the auction pen.
Okay - first up today - a gorgeous young
horse - prettiest thing I've seen since my
wife on our wedding day. Let's get going,
shall we? Who wants this wonderful creature.
But no-one bids.
One guinea, one guinea, one
YOUNG ANDREW EASTON
I thought you needed a plow horse, Mister
Any advance on one guinea? Any
advance on one guinea?
Joey is still trying to get back to his mother. A voice from
the crowd pipes up:
Ted Narracott - it's completely the wrong
Lyons whispers to his son, DAVID, 15, next to him. David eyes
Si Easton - I'm not gonna let that
bastard see me off.
Oh for the love of...!
Joey is straining to get to his mother, the men are pulling
Greedy sod thinks he can just buy anybody.
Stop it - he's your landlord - you
can't be picking fights with him.
Lyons looks over. There is now tension in the crowd as they
sense a Battle Royal for the horse.
He smirks at Dad.
You haven't got the money. Let's go
home - let's have a pint.
Eleven guineas, sir, from as good a man as
any in this town.
They all look at Lyons in his suit and bowler hat.
Do I hear twelve guineas? Twelve guineas?
That's top price for a workin'
animal. Ted! Save it for the shire!
There are big days and there are
small days. Which will it be?
Do I hear any advance on eleven guineas?
All eyes are on Lyons and his son - David is 15, smartly
Just let him go, dad, I don't care
for him, he's too... jumpy.
Lyons isn't listening to David; he's looking hard at Ted.
Shall we say - twenty five?
The crowd gasps. This is clearly personal.
Well, he's got you there. Nice try, Ted.
You were great, Mr N. Gave him a run
for his money.
But when he looks at Ted, Ted's eyes are locked into the eyes
of his rival.
Thirty. Thirty guineas!
Total silence. He stares hard at Lyons. Who simply smiles,
raises an eyebrow, tips his hat and walks away. It dawns on
Dad that he's won the auction. He breaks into a sweat.
Thirty guineas. Thirty guineas. Going
going gone - to Mister Ted Narracott.
He bangs his gavel. It's a done deal.
What have you done, Ted? What have you done?
Dad doesn't acknowledge Si.
Moments later - Ted stands staring at Joey, who looks back.
Ted holds his reins numbly, accepts his receipt from the
auction man in a kind of daze.
Suddenly, Lyons appears at Dad's shoulder.
Quite a beast, there. But what you gonna do
with him - on a working farm? I hope you
got the rent, Ted. I'll be around for it
when it comes due.
Dad does not acknowledge Lyons. Lyons smiles and walks away
with son David, and his cronies. Si shakes his head at Dad.
You're a fool, Ted. And our Rosie'll
never forgive you.
EXT. NARRACOTT'S FARM. SUNSET.
MRS. NARRACOTT kneels in her garden, digging up some carrots,
when she sees Ted returning.
Dad walks down the hedged lane as the sun sets pulling Joey
with him, his bad leg always moving slightly to the side.
Mrs. Narracott looks in horror and bewilderment at Joey and
then at Dad. She is a good-looking, intelligent woman, but
clearly her life is always hard.
What have you done?
Dad stands shamefaced as Albert - the boy we have already met
- runs out of the house to join them.
That's Mooney's colt!
You were supposed to buy a plow horse.
You bought him?
What'd you pay for him?
Albert is totally taken by the horse.
MRS. NARRACOTT (CONT'D)
How much, Ted Narracott?
I won't tell you a lie - though I would love
to. Thirty guineas.
She is stunned. She looks at Ted - and he just nods.
MRS. NARRACOTT (CONT'D)
He's not worth ten! Are you out of your
mind? What about the rent?
He's a strong one, Rosie. Look at
the way he holds his head!
How the hell are we gonna pull anything with
that? Ted - you have to take him back. You
have to take him back right now now.
You have to get down on your knees and beg
for our money back.
Joey bridles at the raised voices but Albert takes the rope
and tries to calm him.
No. No, please don't take him back.
Suddenly we see Dad's dejection. He is a man lost.
We can't take him back till he's broken in.
And how are you gonna train a horse with
I'll train him.
No, you stay out of this, Albie. You don't
know nothing about horses.
Please, Mum. Please let me. I can do it.
We have to keep him. We've no choice.
Right. Well... you've got one month to
break him in or I'm taking him back myself.
(She turns to the house,
How did you get to thirty - what other fool
bid you up that high?
It was Lyons.
Mrs. Narracott turns back towards the house, then stops,
dazed, speaking almost to herself.
We're gonna lose everything. After all we've
been through - we're gonna lose it all.
She turns back to the others - the weight of the mistake
heavy on their shoulders - but Albert quickly steps forward.
Don't worry, Mum - I'll raise him - and I'll
raise him good.
Well, you better. Go on - get started. See
if a child can undo what your fool of a
father's done to this family of ours.
Mrs. Narracott storms into the house. Albert immediately
goes to stroke Joey but the nervous horse draws back
uncomfortably. Dad leads him off, drunk and bewildered,
across the yard to the barn.
EXT. STABLES. LATER.
Albert loads some oats into a bucket and approaches Joey in
Right. Let's make a start then.
As Albert approaches, Joey nervously runs in circles, then
stops on a dime, looking at Albert suspiciously.
It's oats. Very tasty, that is. It's
beef and gravy to us!
Albert squats down. He shows the food. Joey catches the
scent on the air, but still hesitates and shies away.
This time, Albert takes a new tact, almost turning his body
fully away from Joey, but keeping the bucket extended.
Albert slowly backs towards Joey, speaking gently all the
I bet you're missing your mother.
Look at you... first time without
your mum. First time away from home.
But you're not alone, are you. In
fact. Cos I'm `ere...
Feeling safer, Joey moves toward the bucket of oats and
starts to eat.
It's alright. It's alright.
Albert reaches out his hand and touches Joey. And with a
slight start, the horse relaxes into Albert's hand, feeling
safe with the boy.
Albert stares at the distinctive white cross on Joey's
forehead. Joey calms.
I'm gonna call you Joey. Understand? Joey.
That's you. And I'm Albert. It's alright,
You're mine now. You're mine.
Albert strokes Joey's forehead. Joey lifts his head and the
two stare at each other in close proximity.
EXT. FARMYARD. NEXT DAY.
Dad, with a hangover, hobbles off to work the fields. As he
reaches the gate, HAROLD the goose snaps at his heels. Dad
dismisses him with a stare and heads for the stables.
EXT. THE FARMYARD, DAY.
The training episode: Albert walks Joey around the yard on
the rope. It all seems to be going well. Mum looks on. Albert
is clearly proud of his progress.
EXT. PADDOCK. ANOTHER DAY.
Albert's friend, Andrew Easton, sits on a rock with an apple
in hand to watch the training.
Albert sets Joey in a spot and tells him to wait.
Whoa. I want you to stay there,
Joey. Stay. That's it. Good boy.
That's it, you've got it.
Of course when Albert walks away, Joey follows.
A game of "Grandma's footsteps" ensues as Albert patiently
places Joey then walks away.
Hey, look at him, Albie. He's
playing "Grandma's Footsteps."
Albert patiently leads Joey back to his starting position.
Right, come on, Joey. Back you go.
Come on. Back you go.
You're all right. That's it. Good
boy. Right. You've gotta stay
Albert walks away again.
That's it. Good boy. You've got it.
Finally Joey stays put. Andrew smiles, impressed.
Good boy. Good.
Now call him. Whistle.
Come now, Joey. Come on.
Albert whistles like an owl. Joey stands completely still.
You can come now, Joey.
He whistles again. Joey remains still.
Don't think he fancies your owls.
Albert walks back to Joey, frustrated.
No, I read it in a story. It's how
the Indians used to summon their
He gently strokes Joey's nose.
Now, Joey, when I whistle, you've
gotta come, understand?
My dad had a dog who stayed when you
called him. He used to run up
behind you when you weren't
looking, and uh...
He's not a dog. He's just puzzling
Albert runs further away than before and whistles. After a
moment, Joey trots over to him. Andrew smiles broadly.
Brilliant. Look at you.
With the basis established, Albert begins to train Joey to
react to the owl whistle without his prompting. It's not all
easy going - sometimes Albert makes progress, sometimes not.
QUICK MONTAGE - Mrs. Narracott fills a bucket at the pump,
then promptly spills it when Joey trots past her in response
to an owl whistle. She calls off, frustrated.
Dad heads out to the fields with a rake on his shoulder.
There's an owl call and Joey trots past him in the
background. Dad sees Albert welcome Joey by the haystacks,
stroking his nose affectionately. Dad walks on, his
Joey trots up a path, pursuing another owl call. After
several more calls, he still can't spot Albert, until he
cranes his neck up and sees Albert sitting in a nearby tree.
INT. FARM HOUSE. LATER.
Lyons is there with his son, David, and his unlikable
cronies. He holds a meager handful of cash. Dad and Mum look
chastened. The mood is sombre.
There's only fifteen here.
The rest will come.
You know by rights I could take this farm
back today, don't you? And I'm a great
believer in my rights.
It will come.
If you drank less beer and bought fewer
horses you might be able to look your
landlord in the eye, Narracott.
Lyons begins loading up his ledger into his bag.
I said I'll pay you. We got to plant the
Bottom field's rock hard. Only stones down
No, we're going to plow it. Just give me
`til the autumn. I'll pay every penny I owe
you. With interest.
How you going to plow it? Not with that
fancy animal of yours?
He'll do it.
You'll not get that one in a harness, let
alone pulling a plow. Even drunk on a
Tuesday night, you know that. And I can't
wait for the money - there's a war coming.
Dad stands up from his chair, resolute.
I promise you that field will be plowed.
We'll plant it with turnips. And the money
will be yours when harvest comes.
Mrs. Narracott interjects, desperate.
Please, sir. Please.
Lyons takes his time. He looks at them both - Ted and Rosie,
Very well - if that fancy plows that field
I'll give you till October to set things
Lyons heads for the door, but Albert stands in his way.
What if he doesn't?
I'll take the horse on the day he fails.
And I'll take your father's farm and give it
to working men who can hold their pints and
hold their heads high in decent company.
Lyons tries to move past, but Albert grabs his arm.
No, please. Sir, you can't do that.
Now, now, now, lad. What - are you bladdered
as well?! Ted Narracott - I got you down in
Albert knows he has to back down. Lyons walks past him and
leaves with David and his cronies.
EXT. THE NARRACOTT FARM. THE SAME.
Harold the goose attacks Lyons and his men. They quickly
pile into his car and drive off.
Ted stands in the kitchen immobile with upset.
EXT. STABLES. MOMENTS LATER.
Dad throws open the stable door, jerks the harness from the
wall, throws open Joey's stall and starts to lunge at the
Albert runs in to try to stop him.
You can't harness him.
He's got to be collared.
Dad starts to grapple with Joey desperately flailing in an
attempt to get the harness onto Joey. Joey is completely
confused and frightened.
No, you can't. Look, you're scaring him,
Dad. You're scaring him. He...
He can't take a plow!
Joey tries to push Dad out of the way, Dad frustrated by this
hits Joey hard with the harness.
He's got to plow!
He won't be able to do it - he's too young -
he's not even been backed yet....
Joey rears up and kicks Dad. Who falls to the ground.
Albert grabs Joey's bridle. Joey wrestles with Albert.
It's alright, boy. It's alright. It's
alright. It's alright.
Dad is mad with anger and frustration - and in pain. He
staggers to his feet and leaves.
Albert calms Joey down. Mrs. Narracott returns the harness
to its hook.
I knew this would happen soon as I laid eyes
But then she notices Dad has returned. He has a gun.
MRS. NARRACOTT (CONT'D)
Ted. No. Ted, no!
He's worth nothing to me! If he won't take
the collar, he's not worth a damn thing!
He grabs the rifle, but Dad shoves him away.
Dad raises the rifle, but Albert wrestles for it again.
Furious with frustration Dad throws Albert to the ground and
takes aim at the horse.
Mrs. Narracott quickly pulls the gun aside.
You shoot that horse we have nothing.
Dad whips the gun back towards Joey to find Albert standing
between them - right in front of the gun's barrel. For a
second we think Albert will be inadvertently shot.
MRS. NARRACOTT (CONT'D)
Dad pauses his finger just in time. Albert gently holds the
barrel of the gun. Speaks calmly.
You were right what you said, Dad. "He'll do
it," you told Lyons, "He'll plow that
field." And he will! You'll see. He'll show
you. We'll show you. We'll get it done.
Dad looks at him, frozen. Mrs. Narracott eases the gun away
from him -
Let go. Let go.
- and hands it to Albert, telling him -
Go back to the house.
As Albert leaves, Ted takes out his flask. But Rosie takes it
from him gently. He doesn't resist.
Here, here. Some days are best forgotten.
Today ain't one of them. Come on.
They exit the stable together, leaving Joey in his stall.
INT./ EXT. STABLES. DAWN.
Albert walks towards the stables - enters. And talks to Joey
as he prepares the harness.
How are you today, Joey? I don't know much
about life, boy, but I do know that there
are big days and there are small days. And
most days are small days, and, well, they
don't matter much to anyone - but this -
well, this is a big one. This is our big
day. Well, it's cold out there. So I'm going
to take this off -
(he takes off his coat)
Well, if it's tough for you - it should be
tough for me, too...
He is left in just a loose-fitting white shirt....
Now, I'm gonna teach you how to plow
and you're gonna learn. Is that
understood? And then we can be
together, which is how I believe
things are meant to be.
Joey instinctively balks, but Albert is stern with him.
Boy. Steady, boy. Here we go. Here
As he approaches Joey with the harness, Harold the goose
enters the stable to watch.
Albert approaches gently and slowly puts the harness over his
own neck and shoulders to demonstrate -
Easy, easy... Look at me, Joey. See?
See? You've just gotta put your nose
It is a moment between them. The horse looks Albert in the
eye, then yields. Albert comforts him and show there is
nothing to fear. Finally he gets the harness in place.
That's it. See? You've got it.
You've got it. Good boy. There...
Harold honks his approval.
Albert leads Joey out across the yard, through the broken
EXT. LOWER FIELD. THE SAME.
It is a grey day as they walk across the plowed fields
towards the huge lower field. They come to a rusty, primitive
plow left in the grass. Albert looks around the field - it is
overgrown, it seems to go on forever - even if Joey was a
plow horse this would be a heavy task.
Si Easton and Andrew stroll up the road to watch.
Too large, too rocky, matted with
grass roots. Even a sturdy plow
horse'd never manage it alone.
Yet he will, I say.
You'd swear he'd sprout wings and
fly if Albert had told you so.
(smiling at his son:)
It's a fine thing, loyal to your
mate. Even if he is a bit barmy. A
team of two might manage, given a
month and good weather.
They're interrupted by the honk of a horn as Lyons and David
pull up in a car. Lyons and David get out. Their driver
Ted too squeamish to watch, is he?
`Course he's watching.
Si nods in the direction of the house.
Albert steadies Joey and starts to tie on the heavy plow. It
just seems too big and bulky for Joey's sleek frame. Albert
sets Joey right and fixes the plow.
Lyons, David, Si, and Andrew walk towards Dad, who looks on
anxiously from a nearby hedgerow. Lyons gestures at David to
stay back and walks over to Ted alone. He stands beside him
and begins to talk gently.
Well, you've raised him up a true
Narracott, Ted, picture of his
father, he is: not a dollop of
ordinary sense but that thick
stubbornness that'll lead him to
insist on the impossible.
Down in the field, Albert continues to prep the plow.
Wasn't a farmer in Devon didn't
admire you, myself among `em,
leaving your brothers that fine farm
and setting yourself at this stoney
patch of unpromising ground. You've
fettle enough for twenty men, but
with a gimpy leg and the drinking -
for the pain, isn't it, that you
- yeah, none of us could have
anticipated an ending better than
this. Makes me question the wisdom
of the charity that urged me to rent
you this place, not only looking at
you, me old pal, but that pretty
little wife of yours, thought you
were a spark, she did.
Ted hasn't acknowledged Lyons for a second; he's never taken
his eyes off Albert. He simply stands and walks away as
And now your son's sinking into the
selfsame bog that's swallowing you.
Albert has been meticulously preparing everything,
positioning Joey, checking the tethers, digging the rusty
plow in the earth. He takes his position behind the plow,
throwing the rear leather harness over his own neck.
See Joey - I got the collar, too!
Albert gently snaps the reins. Joey doesn't move, confused by
the whole affair.
Come on, boy. Walk on. That's it. Walk on!
Walk on, Joey. Come on, boy, walk on.
You'd be better off startin' at the
top of the hill and goin' down!
Gravity's the only friend you're
gonna have today, young lad.
Walk on, Joey! Walk on! Come on,
Joey, walk on. Walk on, boy.
At the house, Mrs. Narracott opens an upstairs window to look
on, anxiously. Ted, standing alone by the fence, only looks
Walk on. Come on, walk on.
It'll take the whip to move him.
Just as Ted is saying this, Albert, as if hearing his father,
takes a breath and then abruptly produces a whip. Joey's
ears prick up. Albert, grimly determined, snaps the whip at
Joey. Joey panics and bolts. The plow spins to its side,
pulls Albert off his feet. Joey drags them all the way to
the top of the hill, right by the farmhouse.
Lyons, yelling, starts laughing and can't stop.
Bravo! You've reached the top of the
hill! Off you go again, boy! You'll
make even better time comin' down!!
He continues past Dad, laughing.
INTERCUT - Mrs. Narracott looks on from the house. He
glances back at her. Her face is full of angry concern for
Townsfolk begin arriving, climbing the hill to the lower
Ted looks down, ashamed. Mrs. Narracott looks back at Albert,
mortified, bruised, setting the plow right again.
Mrs. Narracott moves away from the window, takes a seat, and
picks up her knitting.
Later - Albert has made no progress. Joey is moving, but
only in a useless circle.
Good boy. Good lad. Good lad. Now
walk on. Good boy.
More townsfolk clamor to the fence. Andrew calls out.
Albie, we're all with ya!
Albert tries to encourage him forward but Joey still isn't
pulling sufficiently. The plow skips uselessly over the
Look look look! The plow hasn't even cut
As Albert struggles with the plow, he sees Dad walking up the
hill behind the spectators. He doesn't even turn to his son.
Joey strains as Albert pushes with all his might. We sense
the strain on the horse and the inappropriateness of the
task. But Joey perseveres. The plow limps along.
Do you know - I believe we can do
it, Joey. I knew when I first saw
you that you'd be the best of us.
That's why he bought you. He knows
you've all the courage he never had.
I knew when I first saw you that
you'd be the one who'd save us.
The plow skips and Albert falls. Joey's legs buckle and he
goes to his knees. Albert rushes to his side.
Lyons calls from the crowd as rain starts to fall.
You've got no chance, lad. He'll not
turn over half an acre. Give it up
now. You've done well. You've tried
hard. You're more of a man than your
Albert examines the collar - he sees it is ripping into
Joey's flesh. He grabs his shirt, tears a piece off it,
tenderly folds it and puts it between Joey's shoulder and the
Come on now, Mr. Lyons, that's a bit
rough, isn't it?
Well, he'll destroy that horse.
The crowd's beginning to disperse. One of Lyons' cronies
holds his umbrella as he returns to his car. He passes Ted.
I'll be over Thursday. Give you a
day to close it up.
Mrs. Narracott emerges from the house and heads to the fence -
holding her knitting in the rain, ignoring the leaving
crowds. A SYMPATHETIC NEIGHBOR hands her:
I'm sorry, Rosie.
Lyons passes behind her, almost speaks, but then thinks
better of it.
As the rain intensifies, Albert digs his toe into the wet
soil and notices how it has softened. Suddenly something
flashes through Albert's mind. He leaps into action, runs
through the rain to shout at Joey.
Now, boy! You've got to do it, Joey.
You don't know, so I'm gonna have to
do the knowing for you when the rest
of our lives depend on this! So get
set to pull - and pull straight! And
He races back to the plow and sets himself.
Now, boy! Go!
Joey pulls firmly and finally the inertia is broken - the
rain has softened the earth.
Walk on, Joey! Walk on! That's it!
Good boy, Joey! Good boy!
Finally, the plow bites deep into the soil.
Walk on! Walk on! Walk on! Walk
At the fence, Mrs. Narracott looks on in amazement.
Albert notices a large rock in their path. Andrew sees it,
Go around it!!
Whoa, Joey! Whoa, Joey! Joey! Joey,
whoa whoa whoa! Joey, stop! You'll
break the blade -
Albert hauls back on the reins, but Joey throws his flanks
forward, straining and lurching until the plow blade splits
the rock completely in half and now the plow moves more
easily through the wet ground.
The ground yields. Soon Albert and Joey are making great
progress. The wet earth slipping open beneath them.
Andrew is loving it, speaks in wonder.
Will you look at you?
Mrs. Narracott looks very happy, a smile breaking slowly
across her face...
The crowd begins to return. Lyons notices and looks out from
his car - sees the plow digging through the field.
Annoyed at the progress Albert's making, he gets out of his
car and walks over to Mrs. Narracott. With great disdain he
I'd not let a child of mine slip in
the mud alongside a plow blade. He
could lose a foot!
Mrs. Narracott brandishes her knitting needles, backing him
You'll likelier lose an eye, Mr.
Lyons, if you carry on prating at me
how to manage my son! Or my plow, or
my horse, or my field, or my farm!
Dad sits nearby, watching this exchange with silent approval.
Lyons stares at her, gape-mouthed, as she turns her attention
back to Albert.
Come on, Albie! Push on through!
The rain becomes torrential. Lyons turns towards the car -
gestures, frustrated, to his driver, who runs forward with
the umbrella to shield his boss from the rain. David remains
on the running board, watching Albert plowing.
The plow speeds through the earth. The boy and the horse are
working as one. It is a moment of triumph.
Get it done, Albie! Get it done!
We pull back to see they have made only the smallest dent in
the enormous field.
As Lyons' car passes, Dad steps forward, takes in the scene,
and almost smiles.
EXT. THE LOWER FIELD. EVENING.
The rain has abated. Albert, soaked to the skin, sits next
to Joey. They are both covered in mud.
Andrew, followed by Si Easton, charges through the gate up to
Albert. They are lifting Albert up between them, laughing,
Si Easton planting a kiss on Albert's muddy cheek, Andrew
tousling his filthy hair, when Mrs. Narracott arrives with
Ted. She helps Si and Andrew lift Albert and slings her
son's arm over her shoulder, glowing with pride, crying,
Oh, my pair of fools. My mighty
As the others help Albert up, Ted tends to Joey. He looks
over to his son and, after a moment, removes his cap and
slightly bows his head.
The others stagger away, supporting Albert, and Ted pats the
horse and gently begins to unbuckle the harness.
INT. STABLES. DAY.
Albert washes Joey and tends the wounds and sores on his
body. Rosie is putting antiseptic on Albert's wrists and
shoulders. Joey bristles but is soothed by Albert's care.
You're as battered and bloodied as he is.
And where's Dad?
Still in the bottom field.
Stumbling about, I suppose.
It's not the drink, Albert, that
makes him stumble -
He drinks, mum.
Well, so might you if you'd been
where he's been, seen what he's
Well, he don't talk to me about it.
He don't talk about it because he
can't. There aren't words for some
things. Come here...
Rosie stalks over to a pile of broken equipment in a corner
of the stables. She rummages until she finds a waterstained
brown paper parcel tied with yarn. She brushes away some
The mice've been at it. Sit down.
They sit together on a step. As she begins to untie the
yarn, a change comes over her: her irritated determination
gives way to sadness. Albert comes to her and kneels beside
her as she gently opens the paper.
Inside there's a red and tan pennant, knotted and fringed at
Here. It's his campaign pennant. He were
Sergeant, Seventh Battalion, Imperial
Then with great care she unfolds the sash to reveal two
silver medals. The first, with the profile of Victoria, hangs
from a red, blue and orange ribbon.
And that is the Queen's South Africa
Medal. Every man who fought in the
Boer War got one of those. But
She holds up the other medal, hanging from a red and black
That's the Distinguished Conduct
She hands Albert the Distinguished Conduct Medal. He takes
Well it ain't mine, dear. He got
that after the fighting at
Transvaal. After he'd been hurt, and
he'd saved some other lads, and
well... I don't know what else, he
won't tell me either. But the first
day he got home he just... tossed
them out. First day he could walk,
he threw `em straight in the
dustbin, and wouldn't hear a word I
said not to.
Albert nods, looking at the medal and campaign pennant. She
takes the medal back, puts it in the sash, and begins to wrap
See, what you done today, you and
Joey, you're chuffed up now, and so
you should be, my splendid boy. It's
good to be proud when you done
something good. But what he done, in
Africa, whatever it was, he takes no
pride in it. Hard as it surely was,
and however much pain it's cost him,
he refuses to be proud of killing, I
She returns the things in the footlocker, closes it.
I'd be proud. If I'd gone off to
war. If I'd gone and saved my
mates, and -
Well, whether or not you think you'd
do the same thing as him... Think
how brave he is for refusing to be
She heads back to Albert, pennant in hand.
Oh, your dad makes mistakes. And he
drinks to forget the mistakes that
he's made - but he never gave up and
he does that for us. And today, you
showed the world it's all been worth
As she leaves, she drapes the pennant over Albert's shoulder.
You keep looking after Joey and
he'll always be looking after you.
Albert looks again at the pennant.
Sergeant, Seventh Battalion,
(amazed, to Joey:)
You see this, Joey? It's been
through an entire war.
Albert holds the pennant in wonder.
I'm not stealing it. I'll give it
back to him, someday.
EXT. FIELD. DAY.
Early morning. Dad hobbling across the furrows, alone,
planting the field by hand.
EXT. NARRACOTT FARM. DEVON COUNTRY MONTAGE.
Albert and Joey are now in a meadow. They trot past the field
he plowed, now packed with a strong and sturdy crop, which
Ted tends to.
The sun is breaking through and Joey starts to run across the
field and up a small incline. As both Joey and Albert gain
confidence they pick up speed. Albert pushes Joey on, they
are going faster and faster, Albert yells with the
exhilaration of it all. Joey races flat out across the
countryside. Albert hanging on for dear life.
Albert and Joey pull up beside a sleek red car. It's Lyons'
car, being driven by David Lyons, every inch the expensively-
tailored rural gentry.
Um, I'm the only boy that drives in
the village. No one else drives but
That's right and this is my dad's
car. You're lucky that you're in
it. I'm not normally allowed to
drive it `cause it's so -
Albert urges Joey to go faster, till they're neck and neck
beside the car, racing it. David Lyons looks to see Albert
and Joey running alongside his car. He feigns disinterest.
Albert glances at David, but he's much more interested in the
very pretty young woman seated next to David, her hands
trying to control her hair, flying in the wind. Forgetting
himself momentarily, Albert stares at her, dazzled. The woman
turns to David:
Is he a friend of yours?
She smiles at Albert, encouraging him. David Lyons, annoyed,
pushes the accelerator down, and the car edges ahead of Joey.
But not for long. The sound of the acceleration and Albert's
eagerness to impress the young woman make Joey go faster, and
again he moves out ahead of the car. The young woman grins
Up ahead Albert sees that the wall alongside of which he's
been racing turns the corner, presenting him and Joey with an
obstacle. Albert encourages Joey to go faster.
Come on, boy, let's show her how to
They head right for the wall, but at the very last moment,
Joey balks and comes to a dead standstill, sending Albert
sailing over the wall.
Back in the car, the girl gasps and covers her mouth,
concerned. David says nothing, but allows himself a small
On the other side of the wall, Albert stands a bit battered,
Well...you're clearly not gonna be a
Thunder starts to rumble ominously in the background.
EXT. NARRACOTT FARM. NIGHT.
Albert and Joey return, driving sheep before them. Angry
storm clouds stretch to the horizon.
EXT. NARRACOTT FARM. NIGHT.
As Albert leads Joey to the stable, lighting blasts across an
angry sky. The rain is falling in torrents.
INT. FARMHOUSE. NIGHT.
Another crack of thunder - and a piece of wood in the roof
gives way - water gushes in - Dad rushes to support the roof
as the wind forces a window open.
At that moment, the door suddenly swings open with the
violence of the storm, smashing against the wall - Dad and
Rosie turn - and there is Harold the goose, who scuttles in
without his usual arrogance and hides himself in a corner.
Shoo, Harold. Shoo, shoo, shoo!
The thunder cracks again and...
EXT. LOWER FIELD. DAY.
Albert and Dad walk across the field. Mrs. Narracott digs
through the mess. The entire crop is flat - ruined by the
storms. The ground squelches beneath their feet.
The whole field is a write off.
We can try planting something else, or we
could hire ourselves out to Uncle Bob.
Dad doesn't answer. He shakes his head and limps away.
How else we gonna pay Mr. Lyons'
Ted doesn't turn around.
INT. KITCHEN. EVENING.
Mrs. Narracott makes some coffee. Ted sits alone on a chair.
What we gonna do?
I used to believe that God gave each man his
fair portion of bad luck. I don't feel that
any more. I've had more than my share.
You'll stop loving me, Rose. And I won't
blame you when you do.
Well, I might hate you more - but I'll never
love you less.
Then somewhere in the distance, an unfamiliar sound...
EXT. LANE LEADING TO THE VILLAGE. EVENING.
A motorbike rumbles along the lane at huge speed creating a
cloud of dust as it goes. The noise of the motorbike is
drawing attention from all over the valley. It can be heard
fields away and everyone is drawn to this completely unheard
EXT. THE VILLAGE. EVENING.
The motorbike whizzes through the village. Heads turn in
The bike comes to a stop in the market place. The rider takes
off his goggles.
Men of the village start to flock around the machine, with
MOTORBIKE RIDER (CONT'D)
We are at War with Germany. You hear?
England is at war with Germany.
Shock and amazement. The rider takes off his goggles:
MOTORBIKE RIDER (CONT'D)
They're going to ring the bells at six
o'clock - and then never ring them again
until the war is over.
Everyone across England knows that their lives are about to
EXT. FARM YARD. DAY.
Dawn rises over the farm.
EXT. FARM YARD. DAWN.
Albert races to the stables, excited with the campaign
INT. STABLES. THE SAME.
As Albert enters the stables, he calls out:
Look smart, Joey lad, it's the Tavistock
Albert opens the doors and stops dead. He looks at the empty
EXT./ INT. KITCHEN / YARD. DAY.
Albert runs out.
He rushes into the kitchen. His mother stares out the window.
She has been crying.
What has he done with him?
She says nothing, but her face gives everything away. Albert
in a panic turns and runs out into the lane. Mrs. Narracott
tears up again.
EXT. SQUARE OF A MARKET TOWN. THE SAME.
The market square is full of military men. The Union Jack is
flying up the flagpole. A group of girls has gathered to
check out the army boys. Eager young men crowd a table
staffed by recruiting officers:
Last name first. First name, middle
CAPTAIN NICHOLLS is in the square inspecting Joey,
knowledgably. He is a handsome, attractive, modest, upper
class man. Dad stands beside him. He checks Joey's teeth, his
feet and finally, looks him straight in the eye.
Take my word for it - finest horse
in the parish. Goes like a racer,
strong, decent, very fine.
Captain Nicholls has immediately connected with Joey and puts
him at his ease. SAM PERKINS, a tough sergeant, is physically
No curbs, no splints, good feet and
teeth. He's as sound as a bell,
And how much are you charging, sir - for
this strong, decent, and very fine animal?!
I'll give you twenty and not a penny more.
Twenty is no good to me, Captain. Thirty
five and he's yours.
I don't even know how he rides.
Oh, he rides... Splendidly. You'll
be astonished. I promise you that.
(his heart's in his
throat, fighting back
Finest horse in all of Devon. Finest
horse I ever seen.
EXT. SQUARE OF A MARKET TOWN. THE SAME.
Albert bursts into the square just in time to see Nicholls
and Dad shake hands. Their business concluded.
Albert races towards Joey. Ted grabs him. Albert fights to
get free. He looks at his father in anger and betrayal.
You can't! You can't, he's mine! I trained
Albert is hysterical.
You can't have him. He's my horse, sir.
I'm afraid it's too late, lad. I've just
paid thirty guineas for him.
Please, I'll get you money. I will,
I'll get you money. I'll...I'll work
for it! I'll work for it.
He won't obey anyone else. He won't
be any good in the war, neither.
He...he shies at every sound!
Albert snaps to attention.
Well, if Joey's going, I'm going,
too. I'm volunteering.
I see. What's your name, lad?
And how old are you, Albert?
Is that the truth?
No sir. But, but I look nineteen and
I'm bigger than most nineteen-year-
olds, sir! And I'm strong, sir! And
I...I'm not afraid of anything.
I don't doubt your qualifications,
Albert, but the law is very clear
about the proper age for soldiering,
and your father's done what he had
to do. You know that. Thirty guineas
isn't nearly enough to purchase a
horse as fine as your Joey, I know
that. But it's all I've got. Will
you lease him to me, Albert, to be
my own mount?
(he removes his cap,
I promise you, man to man, that I'll
look after him as closely as you've
done, I'll respect him and all the
care that you've taken with him. And
if I can - I'll return him to your
Albert looks at him. Although Nicholls speaks with authority
he has a kindness which Albert recognizes.
CAPTAIN NICHOLLS (CONT'D)
Now say goodbye.
Albert kisses Joey.
It's all right, boy...
But at that moment, Sam Perkins pulls Joey away:
All right, turn it in, eh? That's enough.
He's a horse, not a dog. Now, on your way.
Nicholls walks away into the crowd. The Sergeant pulls Joey,
but Joey does not want to be separated from Albert. His
reaction is implacable, reminiscent to the separation from
his mother. Perkins leads Joey away. They disappear into the
crowd and Rosie is suddenly there. Ted senses her silent
Do you want to lose the farm, Rose?
It's the way you did it.
But we're at war.
Aren't we just.
She looks at Albert. Implacable. Forever.
EXT. VILLAGE SQUARE. THE SAME.
The recruits march through town under pennants and the
strains of a familiar song("The Jolly Plowboy") - it is a
song they all know, which means a lot to them - full of soul -
a song of harvest or a Celtic hymn, something relating
specifically to the lives they have led together. Everyone of
every age - everyone in the village knows this song - it is
Nicholls passes in his car and we see those they are leaving
behind - cheering - a whole generation of young men is
marching off to war. One girlfriend rushes up to kiss her
Albert watches Joey, then remembers the campaign pennant
dangling from his pocket. He runs up to Joey -
- and tucks the pennant into Joey's halter.
Here now, I've told you - sling your
But Nicholls intervenes from his car.
Let him be, Perkins.
This isn't the end. This isn't the
end, my brother... I, Albert
Narracott, solemnly swear we will be
together again. Wherever you are, I
will find you. And I will bring you
And then they are past him, leaving him behind. As Perkins
leads Joey across a stone bridge, Albert watches from the
bank of the stream.
Joey balks one last time -
Whoa. Steady, steady. Steady now,
come on. Walk on! Walk on now,
- then Perkins leads him away, leaving Albert behind.
The very last recruits leave the village - leaving the debris
of this army's visit strewn on the square. Like the debris
of a party you are already beginning to regret.
INT. ARMY STABLES. THE SAME.
Joey is handed off to a groom. Joey is amazed by the scale
of the building. Each horse has a large stall and is being
tended to assiduously. Joey looks around at the hundreds of
men and horses around him and panics.
Whoa whoa whoa. Easy easy...
He bucks, throwing the groom to the ground, and gallops away.
But Perkins cuts him off, grabs his halter, and jerks him
back to attention.
Whoa whoa whoa, Joey! Stop muckin'
about, you hear? Yer in the army
He pushes him into his stall, next to Major Stewart's horse,
a magnificent black stallion, TOPTHORN.
SAM PERKINS (CONT'D)
Good boy, good boy. Steady
steady... Easy. Relax. Easy easy,
Joey rears up in his stall.
SAM PERKINS (CONT'D)
Joey - meet Topthorn. Topthorn - this is
Joey. Sort out who's in charge between the
two of you, you hear? If you want to fight,
you get it over with - `cause once we're
over there, you're gonna need everything
you've got for Fritz!
This is the first time that Joey has had to deal with another
horse since his mother - the beginning of one of the most
important relationships in his life.
Gently, Perkins. I don't want to sour him.
Nicholls passes his gloves and crop to his bat boy who is
there to assist him.
There'll be nothing gentle about the war,
sir. And there'll be nothing gentle about
this one either!
SAM PERKINS (CONT'D)
I understand that, Sergeant, but I
want him fit and shining. He's my
SAM PERKINS (CONT'D)
Nicholls is joined by his friend LIEUTENANT CHARLIE WAVERLY.
He is sweet and friendly - upper class but completely benign.
Scares the living daylights out of me.
Perkins. Glad he's on our side.
They're both joined by a tall, confident officer, MAJOR JAMIE
STEWART. He sizes up Joey.
Not bad. Not bad at all. Still not
a patch on my Topthorn.
I wouldn't be so sure. I think he's got
potential. He's certainly got the bit
between his teeth.
I actually think my Blenheim is faster than
the pair of them.
He suddenly turns from the joking into the efficient senior
officer he is.
MAJOR STEWART (CONT'D)
All right, gentlemen, listen here.
Everything tells us the same story, from
Waterloo to Omdurman, from Pickett's Charge
to the Battle of Mars La Tours - the first
attack can and should be the decisive one.
No excuses, no mistakes - every
horse groomed and fit for
presentation! I want a full practice
EXT. SALISBURY PLAIN. DAY.
The whole regiment is gathered. Everybody is in their
ceremonial uniform. It all has the feeling of the Changing of
the Guard rather than anything related to a real battle. The
day is hot, the plains are quiet and beautiful, the gathering
is huge, there is a real sense of pride and anticipation.
Captain Nicholls, resplendent in full uniform rides Joey out
over the vast expanse of the plain. Both Nicholls and Joey
are dressed up like something from the last century, out of
the Boer War, even the Charge of the Light Brigade. Nicholls
is proud and confident. They gather before hundreds of men
and horses all lined up to be inspected. Charlie joins them,
looking pretty good on Blenheim.
Finally, Nicholls and Charlie reach Stewart and Topthorn
waiting in position.
Thought you two had bottled out.
Nicholls looks at his friend tolerantly.
All right, then, let's see what you
two jokers are made of, shall we?
This is what quiet confidence looks like.
I'll wait for you two at the Duke of York.
Nicholls and Stewart and Charlie prepare themselves for the
charge. Joey and Topthorn size up to one another.
Over to you, Captain Nicholls.
Topthorn bristles at Joey. Everyone is highly charged. The
competition between Stewart and Nicholls seems to have been
absorbed between the horses. Topthorn and Joey square up for
the practice charge like two athletes before a race.
Nicholls raises his sword. It glints in the summer air. It
seems to hang there forever. Every man follows suit.
Topthorn and Joey glance at each other, ready to charge.
CAPTAIN NICHOLLS (CONT'D)
Every sword is pointed directly ahead at arm's length.
CAPTAIN NICHOLLS (CONT'D)
A roar goes up from the men and a deafening pounding of
hooves breaks the silence. The huge line of horses start
running straight ahead of them. Joey and Topthorn run off at
top speed. Dust and earth rise up behind them.
Bugles, the deafening thunder of hooves. It is exhilarating.
We see the scale of the operation, we enjoy the speed and the
splendor of the mass of men and horses. The soldiers shout in
glee and excitement. Each man pushes his horse to out-run
those around him, Nicholls and Stewart seem locked in mortal
Nicholls smiles at Stewart, confidently.
Topthorn starts to pull away, ahead of all the other horses
in the line. Nicholls pushes Joey on. Topthorn seems too
strong, Joey will never catch them. Nicholls is determined
not to be beaten.
CAPTAIN NICHOLLS (CONT'D)
Come on, Joey. I know you've got
it. Come on, boy! Come on!
He pushes Joey on. Joey digs in and finds hidden strength and
speed. He starts to catch up with Topthorn and draws along
side. Nicholls and Stewart exchange tense looks.
CAPTAIN NICHOLLS (CONT'D)
Come on, boy!
Stewart is amazed and pushes Topthorn harder.
Now both riders are going at their top speed. They are neck
and neck - they fight for every inch of advantage, every
fibre of their being invested in the race. Nicholls pushes
Joey on and Joey pulls away. Joey inches forward till he is
almost a length ahead of Topthorn. The effort is enormous.
Nicholls looks back at Stewart, very happy. Stewart's
frustration shows. He knows he is beaten.
Then suddenly they race over the line. Nicholls spears a ring
decorated with a blue ribbon and pulls Joey to a halt. They
have crossed the enemy line. Nicholls is ecstatic. Topthorn
comes to Joey's side.
Nicholls laughs, grinning.
Nice of you to turn up.
The horses are nose to nose, snorting, we sense the heat, the
exertion. Topthorn and Joey are brought together by the
effort. We sense Topthorn's newly minted respect for Joey.
And Joey is no soft touch - he slightly holds his head up in
victory, letting Topthorn know that he knows he won.
The other horses come charging in. There is a real sense of
achievement and congratulation amongst the regiment.
He's got speed...I'll give him that. But
has he got stamina?
He has everything.
The two men enjoy the moment of rivalry and the exhilaration
of it all. The two horses, face to face rub against each
other for the first time. A bond has been formed...
INT. OFFICERS' STUDY. DAY.
Stewart enters. A phonograph plays "Roses of Picardy." The
walls are decorated with etchings of famous battles, and a
large map of Western Europe that depicts how the English
troops are crossing the channel to confront the Germans near
Belgium. Nicholls is writing a letter - though actually at
this moment, he is making a little pencil drawing of Joey to
enclose with it.
What are you up to?
I'm writing a letter.
With a picture in it?
It's to the boy who owned Joey. I want to
show him how wonderful he's looking.
Before we take him away across the Channel
to face a million Germans guns.
Yes. Before that...
4 a.m. start tomorrow - travelling with the
Dragoon Guards and the Royals. Transport
detachment - they'll need to be at the docks
at 5 am. Check all kit. Battle orders: no
polishing - buttons, helmet buckles, stirrup
irons - let `em all go dull. I want nothing
to flash in the sun and give us away.
As Stewart leaves, he passes Charlie. He casually
Charlie checks his new cap in the mirror.
What do you think of the cap?
He shows the bright red lining to Nicholls.
CHARLIE WAVERLY (CONT'D)
Silk lining. I quite like it.
I'm not sure it's going to make a lot of
difference to the Germans.
Oh, I don't know about that. Think about it -
you're a Boche, just working out which of
two chaps to shoot - and you thought - "Good
Lord - one of them really is wearing a very
stylish cap indeed!" You might shoot the
other one instead.
Or, alternatively, think - "I fancy that
cap" and kill you first of all.
Pause. Charlie removes the cap.
Hadn't thought of that.
Nicholls returns to his sketch.
EXT. DIRT ROAD. FRANCE.
Three hundred horses and their charges in a slow march in the
middle of the most pristine French countryside.
TITLE: FRANCE - 1914, QUIÉVRECHAIN
EXT. ROAD. DAY.
Nicholls and Stewart and Charlie ride on a smooth road past a
series of posts screened with cloth. They're silhouetted
against the setting sun.
EXT. ROAD. DAY.
The regiment are tense and nervous as they gingerly make
their way along the country road. Topthorn and Joey sense
the grim change of atmosphere.
EXT. WOODLAND ABOVE A PLAIN. DAY.
They are in woodland above a plain stretching for miles. A
small table has been taken out for Stewart and his officers.
SERGEANT MAJOR SINGH - a turbaned Indian with a magnificent
moustache dressed in ceremonial garb - explains the lines of
battle on a map.
SGT. MAJOR SINGH
That is our target - the German 11th
Division - at the moment bivouacked three
miles to the east of the Menin Road. We have
been watching them and they have pitched
tents for the night and lit cooking fires.
Knock them out - and we could slide in
behind the German lines and come at them
from the South at Geluveld.
SGT. MAJOR SINGH
About six hundred. Infantry.
Twice our size...
In regiments of horse and men, the
advantage is ours.
SGT. MAJOR SINGH
And we have surprise on our side.
But the sooner we move, the better -
we have no assurance they'll still
be there tomorrow morning.
Our officers just have a second to take in the news. The day
has suddenly arrived. The day they have worked for, for so
Right. Good. So - today it is.
Charlie - tell the men.
Salisbury formation. We'll charge
through them and secure the ground
SGT. MAJOR SINGH
The grass to the left is taller than
we are - it's perfect cover.
Excellent work, Sergeant Major.
Time spent on reconnaissance is
As Stewart departs:
Thank you, Singh.
Nicholls catches up to Stewart, concerned.
CAPTAIN NICHOLLS (CONT'D)
They have no idea we're coming.
Not having scruples, are you, Jim?
No. I understand the surprise is
everything. But if it must be done,
let's do it quickly.
Nicholls notices Charlie nervously attending his horse.
CAPTAIN NICHOLLS (CONT'D)
Are you alright, Charlie?
Never been better. Literally, never
We worry for him - he is afraid.
Stewart rides through the lines astride Topthorn.
Prepare to mount! Mount!
As the cry is echoed throughout the regiment, Nicholls
accepts Joey from an attending soldier.
Thank you, Standley.
Hey, Joey. My bonny boy. You're
all right, aren't you, Joey? Hey?
Nicholls takes the red campaign pennant from his pocket and
threads it through Joey's reins.
Minutes later - Stewart addresses the men.
Gentleman. It is an honour to ride
beside you. Make the Kaiser rue the
day he dared to cross swords with
us. Let every man make himself, his
King, his country, and his fallen
comrades proud! Be brave. Fear
God. Honor the King!
(in unison shout)
Fear God. Honor the King!
EXT. OVER GROWN CORN FIELD. DAY.
Cut to an elegant field of tall grass, waving in the gentle
breeze. Then suddenly three hundred men seem to rise out of
it. They are in fact our soldiers, mounting their horses -
but the horses are invisible in the height of the grass.
Stewart gives a signal. We see the intense anticipation on
his face. He takes out his sabre.
The men draw their sabres in silence. The birds chirping,
Then Nicholls just turns to his two friends and almost
Good luck, my friends.
He pats Joey's side. And then...
Forward, to walk! Walk...march!
The regiment begins moving through the field.
MAJOR STEWART (CONT'D)
Forward to canter! Canter...march!
The men start to float over the grass - swept along by their
invisible horses, until...
Suddenly they emerge from the tall grass - the immense power
of the galloping horses - silence explodes into a violent
crashing of hooves. The noise is immense, swords are flying
in the air. Hundreds of horses racing towards the German
On the German side, TWO SOLDIERS wake to the sound of
hoofbeats. They pull their tent flap aside to find the
invincible charge coming towards them. The Germans are
totally unprepared. We see them scramble back towards tents,
rush towards their guns - one man pulling up his trousers
rushes for cover. One German drops some dirty dishes into a
wash pot, screaming:
Topthorn and Joey race each other like a rerun of their
practice on Salisbury Plain. The swords and uniforms glint in
the sun, the German troops look terrified - some run in
panic, others prepare to stand their ground.
The British head in for the kill, the men scream battle cries
with sheer exhilaration.
We see the horses at close quarters running with all their
might. Nicholls and Stewart yell as they approach the enemy.
The surprise attack is a huge success. The first row of
unprepared Germans are falling...
The regiment sweeps through the encampment, cutting down
soldiers and driving the rest in a panicked retreat to the
But then we see, in the shadows of the forest behind the
A machine gun. No, a line of machine guns - at least twenty
guns, sandbagged apart - the logical, new, modern defence of
a garrison. In an instant, the fleeing Germans have manned
the guns. All now firing.
The noise of the blast of bullets drowns out everything else.
A score of men and horses are suddenly on the ground, it
happens almost so quickly Joey and Topthorn don't realize
anything's wrong and find themselves racing straight towards
the guns. The bullets keep coming, now suddenly half of the
regiment are on the ground.
Horse after horse races past the guns into the woods...all of
them now riderless.
Nicholls watches helplessly as one of the barrels swings
towards him. His face goes slack as he realizes he is about
A moment later, Joey runs on - we pan up to see he is running
on riderless - he has not realized that Nicholls is gone. The
bullets whizz around his head, but he still runs directly
ahead. We would always know him by the red pennant Nicholls
tied on his saddle.
Joey is now running through the German lines. No one bothers
to attack him as the German's concentrate their efforts on
the cavalry behind him. The line of machine guns fire as one,
decimating the horses and their riders.
Joey leaps and dances nimbly through the German ranks, but
suddenly rears up in the confusion, surrounded by Germans.
Near him, surviving English officers are hauled from their
Stewart wheels back around on Topthorn, sabre in hand. But
he, too, is quickly surrounded by several Germans with their
rifles trained on him. A furious GERMAN OFFICER storms over,
speaks perfect English:
What? Did you think that a garrison
on open ground would go undefended?
Look at yourself! Who do you think
Stewart looks at the Officer - at the guns that surround him -
and throws down his sabre, stabbing it into the ground. The
Germans take Stewart from Topthorn.
Around them, the fields are littered with dead soldiers and
EXT. BATTLEFIELD. DAY.
Topthorn appears disoriented and frightened. Suddenly, he
rears up and bolts from his new German handler, galloping
over to Joey. The horses briefly nuzzle, but both rear up
again as they are separated and led past a young German
He zeroes in on them, the finest horses.
A slightly more JUNIOR OFFICER approaches the outraged senior
JUNIOR GERMAN OFFICER.
What do we do with the horses?
If they're injured, shoot them.
JUNIOR GERMAN OFFICER
And the others, sir?
The others you round up and take to
base camp - they will pull guns.
You'll never get fancy horses like
these to pull guns.
Then shoot them also.
Gunther, the young private, now standing behind them,
Sir - perhaps we could use some of
them with the ambulances - to get
the injured men off the field.
Will they take the harness?
I'd like to try, sir.
The officers move away - that's enough talk about horses...
CUT ON - Gunther is now with Joey and Topthorn. Near a wooden
ambulance - which is like a giant wagon to carry humans. He
is with MICHAEL, a very young soldier, his brother - possibly
as young as 14.
Gunther lifts a heavy pulling harness - and tries to get
Topthorn into it.
It won't work - they're cavalry
You won't get the harness on.
Come on, Michael.
Topthorn balks violently.
Whoa, whoa. Easy, now, easy now,
Englishman... Whoa, whoa, whoa.
Easy now, easy.
Gunther! It's hopeless - we can't
And suddenly Joey moves up and presents himself, with his
strange self assurance and self sacrifice. And instinct for
He sniffs the harness and places his head through it, which
helps to calm Topthorn enough that Gunther can slip the
collar onto the big black horse. Gunther turns to Joey,
Well, well, look at you. Whoever
taught you this has just saved your
Gunther spots the red ribbon in Joey's saddle, removes it,
folds it, and places it in his pocket.
Later - Gunther and Michael are returning from the
battlefield with Topthorn and Joey, pulling an ambulance with
British and German wounded. Amongst the wounded, we see a
hand gripping a battered, silk lined hat. It is Waverly,
wounded but alive.
EXT. NARRACOTT'S FARM. DEVON. DAY.
Si Easton lets himself in through the gate. Ted pulls up
turnips from their three acre crop.
Rosie, just across a furrow, is also engaged in the harvest.
It's hard work. Si holds a parcel.
Hello the farm!
(looking up, wiping her
Hello, Si Easton!
Albert passes carrying a crate laden with turnips, but pulls
up short when he hears:
I was at the post office and while I
was there, Mrs. Allen said a parcel
had come for Albert, from the, from
the, from over there - and I thought
I could go up that way in the
morning. And - here it is.
Well, who'd be sending me a parcel
Well, open it and see.
Albert opens the parcel and pulls out a leather sketchbook...
It's a sketchbook...
(gasp of realization)
That's Captain Nicholls' sketchbook!
See that? That's a picture of Joey!
It's a picture of Joey. Well, I
And there's a letter...
Well, go on then, go on.
"Dear Albert Narracott.
Captain Nicholls, who died...Captain
Nicholls, who died in action today
left you this. Yours, Sergeant Sam
Si Easton drops his head guiltily. Rosie catches this.
You weren't to know it was bad news.
He was riding Joey when he died.
You don't know that he was riding
"In action," it says.
Everybody falls silent. Albert goes to the fence and looks
down at the sketches of Joey. Rosie looks at her son, her
heart breaking for him. Dad returns to the harvest without a
word. Albert looks off to the horizon and - over there.
EXT. GERMAN BASE CAMP. EVENING.
CLOSE -- A step stool.
Michael mounts the stool next to Joey and Topthorn, removes
their harnesses and carries them across the road.
Michael slips and falls into the mud. Gunther dashes over
and pulls him up just before a military convoy pulls into the
camp, running over the tack.
The BASE CAMP OFFICER appears on a motorbike.
BASE CAMP OFFICER.
Gentlemen! We move forward to the
frontline tonight. Full marching
orders. Get moving!
As the soldiers hop to their orders, the officer turns to -
BASE CAMP OFFICER
Both Michael and Gunther turn to him. But it's Gunther the
Officer wants to talk to.
BASE CAMP OFFICER (CONT'D)
No, not you - you. Come.
Gunther picks up the dropped harnesses as he approaches.
BASE CAMP OFFICER (CONT'D)
I'm keeping you here. You are best
with the horses and we need to move
the camp quickly if the enemy
continue to push through from the
They're pushing through?
BASE CAMP OFFICER
I'm told. We will move later when we
find where the horses are needed
Yes, sir. Perhaps I can keep my
brother here with me, he's also very
good with horses.
BASE CAMP OFFICER
Oh no no. Not necessary.
Get moving. We leave tonight.
He walks away. Gunther is stricken by the news, but Michael
is excited. As he leads Joey past his brother:
It's all right, Gunther.
Gunther can't really speak. Michael is just a boy.
EXT. GERMAN CAMP / VARIOUS. EVENING.
Soldiers are lifting up their equipment - gathering - moving
in the same direction.
In a quiet tent, a few last soldiers are packing. And there
are Gunther and Michael, packing together.
You are not going. I'll tell them
you are only fourteen, that you're a
Father signed me in. He knew my age
-and so do they.
The process of packing is their way of coping with the shock.
Gunther is folding one of Michael's shirts. Michael takes it
Mother obviously never taught you
how to fold a shirt.
Of course she did. I just wasn't
listening. But you need to listen
now! I promised her, I made her a
solemn promise, that you would be
safe with me. With me, Michael!!
He leans close to Michael, talking in almost a whisper.
They'll never make a head count.
There are too many of us. You can
stay here - slip underneath the bed -
until they move out.
Michael carries on with his packing.
Gunther, it will be fine. And when
all the machines break down and they
call up the horses, I'll see you at
the front. We'll be together again.
And now the case is packed. Gunther heads to the tent
Looking round, the tent is now empty. The moment to leave has
come. Gunther pulls the red pennant from his pocket and
follows Michael out of the tent to where the soldiers are
lining up in the road.
I'm giving this to you. For luck.
Gunther ties the pennant to the back of Michael's pack as he
To keep you safe.
Michael smiles at him and begins to march. Marching towards
Ypres, on the Western Front.
BASE CAMP OFFICER
Im schnellschritt! Marsch...links!
Zwei, drei, vier!
We settle on young Michael - in line - he passes Gunther. He
remains eager. But it is goodbye. These soldiers moving into
the darkness and towards death. Gunther looks on - tears in
his eyes. The two horses are uneasy - sensing tension.
A few minutes later - Gunther grabs a saddle and throws it
onto Joey's back.
Back to the soldiers.
Suddenly we see the galloping legs of two horses. They whip
past the back of the line of marching soldiers. It's clear
what is happening - Gunther is on Topthorn - and has hold of
Joey, on a loose rope, galloping beside him.
Gunther, galloping along the line of soldiers, spots what he
is looking for, a red pennant unfurled and flapping in the
wind, tied onto Michael's pack. Gunther speeds toward him.
This was his plan all along. And in an instant he is beside
him and without Michael ever realizing, he suddenly finds his
arms and legs akimbo, as he is yanked out of the line and
dragged along the ground, desperately close to Joey's
Michael looks at the soldiers beside him - he looks at the
skyline of violence ahead...but before he can decide, he
feels his brother's arm - pulling him upwards. And now, the
two of them are fully on Topthorn.
They leave a jumble of soldiers in their wake as the officers
try to restore order.
Get back in line! Line!
EXT. WOODS. LATER.
Michael now rides Joey, following Gunther on Topthorn. The
brothers look at each other - can't believe what they have
done - Michael is following his brother, swept along, doesn't
know if it is right.
And Michael and Joey and Gunther and Topthorn charge on to
They spot a lonely house and burst past a line with some
As they ride, they grab civilian shirts and jackets and
trousers, the clothes pegs pinging off and falling to the
And on they ride - though all too soon day starts to break in
the far distance. They see a very dilapidated windmill. They
aim for it as the sun begins to seriously break over the
INT. / EXT. WINDMILL. DAWN.
They reach the windmill. It feels very unused. The machinery
of the windmill creaks in the dawn. The brothers untether the
horses, careful now that it is light outside.
I'm hungry. Did you bring food?
Michael fingers the pennant on Joey's reins. Then...
Will Father be ashamed?
He will pretend to be. Maybe at
first he will be. But in the end, he
will be glad.
And us? What about us?
Gunther looks at him - but doesn't reply. As Michael removes
I was ready to go. I was proud to
(after a beat, in a very
I wanted to go.
Later - They sit in silence, waiting for sleep.
The food in Italy is good.
What about the women?
Not as good as the food.
Because...they've eaten too much of
You are too young for war. And
you're too young for women!
Gunther laughingly pushes him over.
I don't feel so young. Not anymore.
Go to sleep - we have a big night of
riding ahead. Goodnight, Michael.
He jokingly strokes Michael's cheek. Michael swats him away,
but as he settles in the hay:
Night night, Gunther.
EXT. WINDMILL. DUSK.
Gunther and Michael sleep. Suddenly something awakens Joey.
He stirs and then rises. Hear the sound of engines and see
lights through the slats sweeping across Joey's face.
Michael and Gunther are stirring in their sleep as we hear a
car and several motorcycles approaching. Head-lamps filter
through the cracks in the windmill walls stabbing the
Hei! In die windmühle!
The boys spring up, speaking in terrified whispers.
Go, go, go...
They race up a nearby ladder, but Michael stumbles against a
table, upsetting some gear. It clatters loudly. They cower
as they hear boots tromping up the steps outside. Then the
windmill doors are thrown open, pinning them in the bright
headlights of the vehicles.
As they're marched out, we see what they see: A German car -
two motorcycles. Six Germans, including the officer who was
in charge of them.
BASE CAMP OFFICER
BASE CAMP OFFICER
He's offering an excuse, but -
The officer accepts this grimly, nods.
BASE CAMP OFFICER
As the boys are taken away, he lights a cigarette.
INT. WINDMILL. NIGHT.
Through the turning arms of the windmill, we glimpse the
double execution. Four rifles fire - flashes of the soldiers
shooting - the bodies on the ground.
EXT. OUTSIDE THE WINDMILL. DAY.
Complete stillness in the empty countryside.
INT. THE WINDMILL. DAY.
There are Joey and Topthorn, still waiting.
And then suddenly - the doors of the windmill creak. The two
horses turn, immensely aware of the break in the silence. The
door opens a little - and we see, reflected in Joey's eye, a
very delicate, beautiful, thirteen-year-old country girl
She stares at the horses. They stare straight back at her.
And she walks straight out again, closing the big door behind
her. Joey and Topthorn settle for a moment.
Time transition - Joey and Topthorn are in a slightly
different place - and the door opens again. It is the same
little girl - but this time she comes in carrying two buckets
full of water.
INT. / EXT. FARMHOUSE / FARM. DAY.
A small humble farmhouse - and round it, small fields,
planted with different fruit crops. We see an old man
(GRANDFATHER), burdened with a basket of berries heading back
towards the farmhouse.
A SOUND CAUSES HIM TO LOOK OUT ACROSS THE FARM -- far in the
distance the STORM OF WAR is in the sky.
He enters the kitchen - which is rough, but full of the
paraphernalia of jam-making - jars, sieves, pectin, sugar.
Emilie is at the sink, washing berries.
He heads towards the side-board, dumps the two bags and lifts
the first handful of fruits on to the counter.
She empties her clean berries into a bowl. Notes the
It's closer today.
The wind plays tricks with the noise
- it's moving away from us.
I can hear it, Grandpére, and there
is no wind. You shouldn't lie to me.
Here. There is no wind here. But
over there - a wind so strong it
will lift you off the ground...
You lie about everything. You say
you aren't worried but it's clear
you are. I know the war is
approaching but you say, "Oh, it's
just a trick of the wind."
He retrieves a bottle of medicine from the mantle.
Did I say that?
You started lying when Mama and Papa
She pours a load of sugar into a bowl with the fruit.
They're dead. But you won't say so.
Do you think I'll die if you tell me
The truth is -
He feeds her a spoonful of the medicine.
- you should speak to your elders
She sticks her wet finger in the sugar and sucks it to help
with the taste of the medicine.
If you tell me the truth about the
war, I will tell you the truth about
the big horses I've been keeping in
(standing, putting his
hands on his hips)
Now - who is the one telling lies!
EXT. COURTYARD. SAME.
Grandfather looks stunned as he paces in front of JOEY AND
TOPTHORN - who stand in the small courtyard outside the
In the windmill?
Yes. They were standing in the
windmill waiting for Don Quixote.
This is François (Joey) and this is
I named them after two boys who
broke my heart last Summer.
They must belong to someone. Horses
like this don't just appear from a
Yes - I know, Grandpére. They are
not unicorns - so I will be fair and
wait -- one day.
And if no one comes to get them by
night-time, then they belong to me.
Emilie. Look at me. You cannot
Mother used to tell me how my bones
would give way with the slightest
bump or fall.
Yes. That's right. So it is
She kisses his cheek --
-- but then calmly leads the horses back to the windmill.
It will only be settled when I
decide which one to ride first.
But it's - Over my dead body!
At least I won't have long to wait.
That is the end of the conversation as far as she is
EXT. FARM HOUSE. DAY.
Emilie is with the horses in the little stable at the end of
the courtyard - a bit away from the farm house - she is
feeding them out of a bucket - not very nice gruel.... WE
SEE THAT SHE IS HESITANT WITH THEM - that she has spent no
time around horses.
I was in love with a boy called
François - who had your lovely eyes.
Unfortunately he was in love with a
girl called Marie, who had your
teeth. She fell for a boy called
Claude - who broke my heart. And who
I intend to marry one day.
INT./EXT. FIELD IN FRONT OF FARMHOUSE. DAY.
Grandfather watches Emilie from inside the house as he makes
Eyes on me. No talking.
Outside, Emilie has fashioned two jumps. The big one for Joey
and a little demonstration obstacle for herself. She leads
Joey to a starting point about 30 yards in front of some
crates supporting a stick about four feet off the ground.
The red pennant hangs from the stick. Joey stands quietly as
Emilie hobbles to the big jump, making a jumping gesture with
Today we learn to jump. Did you know
the French cleared one meter eighty-
five at the Paris Olympics to win
the gold medal? Today we will beat
Grandfather chuckles. Emilie indicates the larger barrier.
This is your jump. When I call
you....be very brave and leap over
She claps, but Joey doesn't move.
Leap over it! Watch me.
She turns to her demonstration jump and easily steps over her
six-inch high barrier.
And now it's your --
She turns to find Joey already stepping over her mini-jump,
stopping in front of her. He's only interested in the apple
in her hand. She takes a bite herself.
Emilie returns Joey to the starting line and runs back behind
the big jump. From behind her back she produces three big
carrots dripping soil. Joey's ears perk and he takes off
quickly but at the last moment veers right and passes between
the two jumps.
INT. FARMHOUSE. DAY.
Grandfather is watching through the window as he prepares his
strawberry jams. He laughs and goes back to work.
BACK TO FIELD
Aware she's being watched, she slings the carrots over her
EXT. BARN. LATER.
Joey slowly emerges from the barn with Emilie out in front
leading him with one hand. In the other hand, she carries a
small wooden step ladder.
He doesn't think we can do it. But
we will show him, won't we?
Emilie unfolds the ladder beside Joey and shakily starts
climbing to the top of it.
(Her voice shaking)
No need to be afraid.
(Emilie looking down at
how far off the ground
You are...very tall.
Before she can swing her leg over Joey's back -
You'll kill yourself.
Emilie turns, and there, blocking the hurdle, now standing
hands on hips, is Grandfather.
Only if you get in my way to make me
Oh please, come off the ladd--
A SOUND from far down the road. Grandfather looks. Emilie
turns to look too. Two trucks led by a German motorcycle are
approaching the farm.
Find somewhere to hide them. And do
As Emilie races off with the horses, Grandfather pushes over
the jumps and jams the pennant into his pocket.
The bikes arrive first, just missing Emilie as she leads the
horses behind the house.
The trucks arrive, pull round - one of the soldiers in the
front jumps out and opens the back.
Halt! Und aussteigen!
The people - 20 of them, all seeming to be poor French
peasants, mainly women, move out of the truck. As they walk
past, they avoid the eye of the Grandfather, who approaches
My name is Bonnard - this is my
land. Why are you here?
Food for the soldiers at the front.
Everyone must give their share.
And suddenly we see what is going to happen - the 20 peasants
spread out and move through the field - with either bags, or
using the aprons they wear - picking all the fruits - at just
the moment all the work has brought forth fruit - and the new
year's crop is ready.
Raspberries, black-currants, gooseberries. In a few minutes,
everything he lives by will be gone.
Watching from his car and calmly smoking a cigar is BRANDT,
the officer in charge of the unit.
Cut to the fields - the aprons and baskets are getting full.
They move through the rows of fruit like a plague of locusts.
Back to the Grandfather - and out of the house comes Emilie.
They are taking everything. Where
are the horses?
The sound of jars breaking draws Grandfather and Emilie into
the kitchen, where the Germans continue to raid their other
One German picks up waterbath canner -- inspecting it.
What is it?
Leave it if you don't know what it's
A pot is a pot. We'll find some use
for it. Sir, where's the livestock?
Brandt sits quietly, casually using his finger to scoop jam
from an open jar.
I make jam. We have no animals.
But there's fresh hay in your barn.
Emilie enters, overhearing.
We use it to replace the mattress
Where are her parents?
They're dead. They died.
The German nods and is about to take his leave, putting the
pot back where he found it, when a clumping noise from
somewhere in the house begins.
What is that?
The wind. It plays tricks in the
Brandt licks his finger and tests:
There is no wind.
An old house creaks.
Go - close the shutters.
Emilie runs out of the room. The soldier picks up the
She's sickly, no?
If you or any of your friends harm
her, as old as I am, I will kill
The soldier looks shocked and then begins to laugh. He slaps
the medicine flask into Grandfather's chest.
You know, I was going to give you
back your pot. But now I'm going to
keep it. For soup.
He slings the huge pot he had put back up on his shoulder and
leaves the house with the other soldiers.
We will be back in the new season.
As the Germans leave, we cut to the upstairs bedroom where
Emilie lies curled up on the bed - and there, standing on
either side of the bed - are the two horses. They look huge
in the tiny room.
INT. KITCHEN. LATE THAT NIGHT.
The sound of shells exploding. A huge bombardment somewhere
in the deep distance. But much closer than before. The
distant, malicious giants of war growl.
It is like a lightning storm on the horizon.
The kitchen has been emptied. The war has finally come to
them - and we can see it on Emilie's face.
Tell me what happened to them. To my
mother and father.
Grandfather doesn't respond.
You said you would tell me how they
died. On my birthday. And tomorrow's
my birthday! They died fighting,
didn't they? But when the soldiers
She finally turns to face him.
- you do nothing. You are a coward,
Yes. Yes. It was your parents who
were brave. I make jams.
And you've never done a brave thing
in your life?
He eases himself into a chair and shrugs.
Maybe there are different ways to be
brave. Did you know the French have
the best carrier pigeons? And this
could be the difference in the war -
our messages getting through.
I don't want to hear about the
They are released at the front and
told to go home - this is all they
know. But to get there they must
fly over a war. Can you imagine
such a thing? Here you are flying
over so much pain and terror - and
you know you can never look down.
You have to look forward or you'll
never get home. I ask you - what
could be braver than that?
Emilie sheds a single tear.
INT. THE BARN. DAWN.
Grandfather enters the barn, strokes Topthorn's nose as he
passes. He sweeps aside a rug from the barn floor, to reveal
a trap door. Then, he opens it.
Now from out of the trap door, he lifts a big ungainly
object, covered in another rug.
INT. FARMHOUSE KITCHEN. MORNING.
Emilie comes down the stairs as Grandfather waits proudly by
the stove. She stops when she sees the OBJECT COVERED BY THE
What is that?
Emilie moves toward the object that is covered.
I hope you have not bought me a
disgusting dress that I then have to
wear like last year.
It was disgusting?
Yes. I looked like an ugly nun.
Then she stops herself and turns to Grandfather with a
Give me your hand.
(she takes it in hers)
Grandpére, we have no money. When
the war is over, then you can buy me
jewels and carriages.
The grandfather smiles and gives Emily a hug.
Anything you say, my sweet one.
Anything-you-say! You are, of
course, the boss. It's just an old
thing I found - don't worry yourself
- leave it, I'll put it back.
He leaves the room. Now Emilie is alone and she can't help it
when she brings her eyes back to the object covered by the
rug. She looks back over her shoulder to make sure she's not
being watched and then lifts one corner of the rug. Her face
explodes with a gorgeous smile. She pulls off the rug that
is covering the big thing and...it is a gorgeous old saddle.
She runs her hand along the saddle -- can hardly believe it.
INT. A HILL. JUST BEYOND THE FARMHOUSE. NEAR THE WINDMILL.
Grandfather helps to swing Emilie up and into the saddle.
All at once, the Grandfather's charity evaporates.
It was your mother's. I hid it, so
as not to encourage you. Emilie, I
want you to ride very slowly, very
carefully. And promise me you won't
go far --
Of course. Okay, I promise.
To the top of the hill and straight
Emilie unties her hair and tosses the red pennant to
Grandfather, releasing her hair to spill down her back and
She sets off on Joey - and quickly spurs him to a gallop.
She rides - past the windmill - and then over the top of a
nearby hill - she speeds over it and out of sight.
Back to the hill - a sudden change of mood. An empty shot. No
movement, no returning girl.
Cut again to the top of the hill, then back to the
Grandfather, very worried.
Topthorn suddenly rears up - and charges off following,
sensing danger. Grandfather starts to run in the direction of
Topthorn charging over the brow of the hill.
The Grandfather running - out of breath.
He hears an indistinct scream from Emilie!
He reaches the top of the hill - comes over the brow - and
there is not the fallen body of Emilie, which he has been
fearing, but a brutal line of German soldiers - and
motorbikes. It is like a line of Indians in a Western -
total, alien fear.
And there amongst them is Emilie, astride a panicked Joey,
surrounded by soldiers. Another one holds Topthorn, who bucks
and rears, but to no avail. Grandfather starts down the hill
towards his granddaughter.
EXT. GERMAN COLUMN NEAR THE WINDMILL. THE SAME
The Germans are moving through the horses they have gathered.
Emilie, unhorsed, tries to get to Joey, who is being roughly
led away by a German soldier.
No! Let go of me! No!
Grandfather grabs her. She is screaming. He tries to calm her
down. Joey is tied up as is Topthorn. Emilie is kicking and
screaming - but also desperately short of breath.
She is my granddaughter! Emilie,
stop! Don't hurt her, please!
Don't hurt her.
A soldier roughly shoves Emilie at him.
Brandt approaches. Emilie screams at him, in tears.
You don't need them! There are so
Emilie is still sobbing. Grandfather hugs her - in horror
that she is now struggling so hard for breath.
Please, take the bigger one and
leave the smaller one. You are
breaking my granddaughter's heart.
The war has taken everything from
What will happen to them?
They will pull artillery until they
- or until the war is over.
It will never be over!
You have your answer then.
The motorbikes start up and drive off. The Grandfather
hugging tiny Emilie as she coughs.
The Germans disappear up the lane leaving the old man and the
child bereft in the bitter cold.
EXT. GERMAN CAMP. LATER.
Two grooms trail Brandt, leading Joey and Topthorn toward a
Heiglemann - these are yours.
They look strong - should last a
month or two.
FRIEDRICH is an unprepossessing, chubby man. He marvels at
You are beautiful.
But then he looks to the other horses penned nearby, haggard
and weak. He turns to Joey.
It's a pity they found you.
He takes the leads of the pair of them. He sighs...
Such a pity...
In a strange way, there are many humans Joey meets, but also
just one, the spirit of goodness and consideration for
animals, joined by little echoes throughout the film.
And then they go over a ridge - and we suddenly see the
explanation of Friedrich's comment. The road they can see
below them is the main through road of the area - and it is a
scene of horse horror - huge, massive guns and cannons and
artillery being dragged by teams of horses that are in a
For Joey and Topthorn, this is a moment like when soldiers
arrived to liberate the prisoners who had been kept in Changi
prison by the Japanese during World War 2. They have never
seen horses in this condition. You can see in their eyes the
confusion. This is a whole different world, where horses can
turn into creatures that look like this.
And it is also a vision of their future. This may be the
moment the mighty Topthorn begins to lose hope. For Joey it
is another level of knowledge - another mighty thing he will
fight through - because he always fights through.
EXT. STEEP INCLINE. DAY.
Friedrich leads Joey and Topthorn in the wake of THE HUGE
MORSER - an elaborate 15 ton monstrosity with a six inch
bore. It takes a team of six horses to haul it with a dozen
men pushing from behind.
A soldier calls from the front of the heavy cannon - pulled
by a particularly wretched group of horses.
Halt! Halt! Stop!
Lower down the hill, Friedrich waves down the rest of the
At the front of the Morser, one of the lead horses collapses -
he will never get up again.
Brandt steps up, pulls a revolver out of his pocket and
shoots the horse dead. It has come to this.
Joey, Topthorn, and all the other horses are spooked by the
Brandt shouts to Friedrich from the road.
Heiglemann, bring up another one!
Heiglemann, bring up another horse!
Friedrich begins leading Joey up the hill, but --
No, no. The big black one!
Friedrich hauls Topthorn, hesitantly, while Joey watches.
As he reaches Brandt:
He's a good horse, sir. But if you
move him up to the heavy gun, he
will be no use at all. Prince is
already losing condition. His leg,
You have given them names?
You should never give a name to
anything you are certain to lose.
His leg is not good enough, sir.
Private, you will do as you are
Hook him up.
Friedrich has no choice but as he starts to lead Topthorn,
Joey rears up and escapes his groom. He gallops up the hill
to the gun - offering himself up to save Topthorn. It is his
"Tale of Two Cities" moment - giving up his life to save his
friend. He bucks and rears. Friedrich turns to Brandt.
As you see, sir, this one is
Brandt takes up Friedrich, and Joey's, offer -
Hook him up.
As Joey is hooked to the gun, he looks back to Friedrich who
leads Topthorn back down the hill.
EXT. STEEP INCLINE. LATER.
The convoy struggles up the hill. Joey feels the dead weight
of the gun. These are several tons of cast iron - almost
dwarfing the horses. Friedrich notices. Together, this grim
circus struggles along the pot-holed country road in the
Joey leads the team up the incline. Each step is an immense
effort. The going, over rough scree, is very tough indeed. It
is very difficult for Joey to get a foothold on the loose
ground, but his experience in Dartmoor comes into play and
although he almost loses his balance several times he stays
upright and hauls the cannon - Fitzcarraldo-like - over the
We follow his progress step by step. Friedrich watches
anxiously. Soldiers strain at the sides of the gun. One
throws boards under the wheels to aid in traction. As they
reach the top of the hill it almost seems the effort is too
much, the cannon always in danger of rolling back. Joey
finally staggers over the top - it feels as though the
tethers are going to snap with the strain - but at last the
cannon reaches the peak, the crest of the hill.
EXT. THE BATTLEFIELD. DAY.
Soldiers scurry around the giant gun, preparing it.
Halt! Halt! Take the horses away!
Friedrich observes with Topthorn as a giant shell is carried
to the gun's breech.
ARTILLERY OFFICER (CONT'D)
The men wrestle it into place -
ARTILLERY OFFICER (CONT'D)
- and secure it.
ARTILLERY OFFICER (CONT'D)
The barrel of the giant gun ratchets upward.
ARTILLERY OFFICER (CONT'D)
The shell explodes from the barrel. And then from another.
And another. For the first time we see the big picture - the
line of assembled cannons of which they were just one tiny
Each gun recoils violently as they shoot their shells into
oblivion - as soon as one shell is fired another is loaded -
the noise is deafening - the line seemingly endless - an
obscene production line of death. This is what the horses
have been feeding - this massive merciless thing.
Smoke wafts from the guns as we see the explosions in the
distance. The sound of the explosions takes us to -
EXT. BRITISH TRENCH. NIGHT.
Explosions light the dirty faces of British boys in uniform,
one after the next. Each light fading out before the next
great blast illuminates another anonymous face -then another -
and then another - and then ALBERT. Hold on him for extra
moments before he fades completely.
EXT. BRITISH TRENCHES. EARLY DAWN.
TITLE: FRANCE - 1918, THE SOMME
With the barrage lifted, the British soldiers that are
huddled in a low sub-trench, are ordered back on the line.
Andrew Easton is with Albert and he's shaken and terrified. A
far cry from the happy young boy we knew.
A gruff sergeant (SERGEANT MARTIN) walks the trench with a
bucket and each soldier puts in their valuables and personal
belongings. One a lighter, some money, etc.
Valuables in the bucket, lads. If
you live, you'll get them back. If
you live, you'll get them back.
Albert and Andrew move down the trench in a line of soldiers
who are given ammo belts and grenades.
Albert gets his grenades and walks further along the
trenches. We follow him in real time as he passes a bunch of
soldiers who are kneeling in the ankle deep water, a PADRE is
giving them communion. The deafening noise of shelling all
Maybe it's a drill, Albie. Maybe
it's a drill like last time.
We keep following Albert's progress in real time - further on
there is a post box where they all put their final letters
home in identical green envelopes. We see Albert's letter
addressed to "Ted and Rose Narracott" in Devon. He posts it
in a battered metal post box.
An officer approaches:
That's my business.
It is David - Lyon's son - now in charge of this small group
of men. Still arrogant - looking older than Albert in his
uniform - and clearly enjoying his superior rank.
I hear you and your mate were doing
bird imitations again. You gonna
write a letter to your horse?
Albert ignores him. Andrew can't help but giggle.
After you find your horse, I've lost
my needle in a haystack, and I could
use some help.
David takes up a bucket and walks down the line of soldiers.
Anything valuable. Anyone who comes
back gets to share it out.
Albert follows David down the trench.
Remember that day me and Joey raced
you in your car?
I remember you somersaulting through
Who was that girl you were with?
There was a girl?
There was. Don't you remember?
It was just some girl, I suppose. I
don't recall which one. I do
remember you falling on your bum in
Andrew laughs amiably. David points to him, smirking.
You see? Always entertaining,
Narracott, I'll give you that.
As David walks on, Andrew smiles at Albert.
You did that? You fell on your bum?
Albert leaves without answering. Andrew keeps smiling until
a large shell explodes nearby. Troops surge towards their
ladders as officers scream indistinct orders.
Now David leads his troop through the trenches to the front
line where they stop, lean against the enemy-side wall
nervously and wait - each man in private contemplation.
Sergeant Martin moves along the lines, pushing men forward.
Be ready! Be ready! Let's go, men,
get ready to go! Get ready to move
out! Stay in position!
David calls out from atop a trench ladder.
Hold your nerve, boys. Remember,
it's not far to go. There's a way
(he moves down the line)
Run fast, keep your wits about you,
keep your eyes open and God and the
King will keep an eye on you.
Company will fix bayonets! Fix
The echo of `fix bayonets' goes down the line - and every man
fixes the brutal shining bayonet to the end of his gun.
Then Albert turns to Andrew.
You know what it reminds me of out
That bloody impossible lower field
the day me and Joey plowed it. Best
day of my life that was and you were
And this here is the worst day of my
life, about to begin, and you're
here cheering me on. Us two, always.
He nods at David Lyons, who gives instructions to another
Once you're in no man's land, go to
the flanks. Stay on the flanks.
David turns to Albert and Andrew.
Come on, boys, come on. To the
Stick close to the gentry, that's
our ticket, yeah? We have the pluck
but they have the luck.
They both smile. And then the fear takes over again. Andrew
particularly feels as though he is on the very edge now.
David urges them forward.
You, too, Narracott.
And you, too.
Andrew and Albert pass by the bucket. They throw some
valuables in. But a moment later, Albert goes back to the
bucket and pulls something out - a worn piece of paper - he
unfolds it - it is the little sketch that Captain Nicholls
drew of Joey the night before they left for France. He slips
it inside his shirt, next to his heart.
Come on, on your ladders, boy. On
your ladders. In you go, in you go.
Andrew turns towards a ladder. As fate and placement would
have it - he is first in line. He puts his foot on the
ladder, when suddenly the Sergeant stops him.
Listen to your sergeant!
He pulls Andrew aside, speaking so that everyone can hear.
SERGEANT MARTIN (CONT'D)
If anybody turns back, if any one of
our boys come running towards you -
you take this rifle and you shoot
them dead. Do you understand?
The sergeant pushes in on Andrew, private and intense.
Do you understand me? Do you
understand what I'm telling you,
son? You take this rifle and you
shoot them dead. Understand?
Andrew looks ready to cry, but manages to nod. Albert turns
to him, only to be pushed back by the sergeant.
Up there, son. Up your ladder. Up
your ladder to your work!
Albert looks nervously back at Albert, comforting.
It's good. Andrew, it's good.
Andrew! Nobody's retreating today.
Andrew! Andrew! Nobody. Is
The COMMANDER arrives, checks the time on his AIDE's watch,
mounts his ladder and blows a whistle to signal the charge.
A BAGPIPER plays as the men go over the top.
David now heads up the ladder first. Gun fire overhead,
Albert steels himself, then hauls himself over the top,
followed by the next man and the next.
Immediately machine gun fire whistles past, we hear the
screams of the first men who are shot. We follow Albert.
We are him. His vision. His experience. The ground is
blasted, there are bodies all around him. He tries to run but
his feet sink into the mud. Bullets fly past him. Felled men
are screaming at his feet in fear and agony. Albert staggers
forward. David is now right by him. They run together. Albert
looks round and suddenly, David is hit. He falls to the
I'm shot! No!
Albert instinctively goes to help. Bullets shower all around
Just leave me. Leave me!
Albert grabs him and drags him onwards with him - David
screaming at the pain - Albert grimly determined. Shells
explode around them as they stumble on. Other men are
running and falling. Albert sees cover in a huge shell-hole
so dives into it for a moment's reprieve from the gun fire.
He sits in still terror for a moment.
You'll be all right here. You'll be
safe. Someone'll come for ya.
Albert. Albert, listen...
It's all right. It's all right.
We're Devon boys, yeah?
David looks at Albert as though seeing him for the first
Albert races onward.
Back at the trench, Andrew waits - terrified - and then, back
out of the mist step two men - heading back towards him. Then
a third. They suddenly catch sight of Andrew waiting there
with his gun pointed towards them. They slow down - in the
terror of the assault, they had forgotten that death was
waiting for them if they turned back.
Time seems to slow down - Andrew shifts his gun from pointing
at one - to the other - we see their individual faces. They
are all just boys really.
And suddenly, instinct hits Andrew - he charges up the
ladder, and forward, firing - past the three men, towards the
enemy. He chooses his death instead of theirs. A sudden
barrage of machine gun fire all around him.
Cut back to Albert, who makes his way to the edge of the
shell hole. Bullets whizz inches from his head. He looks over
to see a German machine gun position to his right. Bullets
whizz past forcing him to duck.
Andrew charges past other soldiers, ignoring their warnings.
Albert continues forward to dive into another shell hole,
nearer to the German line. He scrambles from shell hole to
shell hole. Now he's very close to the machine gun position.
Albert takes a grenade, fumbles with the pin as his hands
tremble. He finally gets the pin out and he hurls the
grenade at the machine gunner. We see the explosion and the
machine gun stop. Albert sprints over the top again and makes
it all the way into the German trench.
Albert runs through the trench, which seems curiously empty.
Albert swings round as he sees the startling face of a gas-
masked German holding a rifle on him.
Albert readies his bayonet but the man is dead, slumped
backwards against the side of the trench still upright.
Albert spins round, his bayonetted rifle in front of him,
ready for action, but there is only the ghostly sight of dead
Albert is alone, everyone else is dead. All the dead wear
More British soldiers drop into the trench, among them
Andrew. He stumbles in the mud, drops his rifle, recovers
it, and races through the trench.
He glimpses Albert ahead of him, stalking through the mist.
Andrew breaks into a smile and rushes forward, prompting
Albert to whirl with his rifle raised.
Albert pauses just in time. Then he collapses against the
side of the trench, overwhelmed.
Andrew grabs Albert and holds him up, embracing him. Albert
can barely whisper:
We made it. We made it.
A moment later, the pair of them hurry through the trenches.
Albert spots more comrades around a corner and calls ahead to
Andrew, this way out!
Suddenly ANOTHER SOLDIER leaps from a trench branch between
them, shouting in panic.
Gas! Gas! Gas!
An instant later, a gas cloud blasts through the trench.
Andrew and Albert look in horror. It spreads towards them,
too powerful to avoid. Andrew is closest, turns to Albert
with a helpless -
- before he takes the full power of it. An instant later, the
white, deadly cloud encompasses Albert, too...
EXT. EDGE OF THE BATTLEFIELDS. DUSK.
Close on hooves and boots, slogging through muddy water,
several inches deep.
Friedrich is walking along, leading Topthorn and Joey.
Topthorn is limping.
Something is wrong - Topthorn seems to be failing - he coughs
badly, breathes strangely. Friedrich stops to check on him.
An officer notices.
Hey, there's no stopping here. Keep
Sir, there's something wrong. This
one needs to rest.
There's no rest for them. Move them
along. Move them along!
Instead, Friedrich leads the horses under the cover of a low
bridge for a brief respite. A moment later, Topthorn
Please, please, please. Stay on
your feet. No, please. No no no...
Friedrich tries to help Topthorn valiantly struggling to get
up but finally sinks to the ground again. This time he lies
semi-conscious. He is dying.
Please please... Stay on your feet.
Joey deeply upset nuzzles his nose into Topthorn but the life
drains out him. Friedrich is in panic at Topthorn's quick
Come on. Please please...
Friedrich continues to stroke Topthorn's head. Joey pushes
Topthorn as if to stop him falling into unconsciousness. For
a moment we think Topthorn will come round but he slips away
and all life leaves his body. Friedrich solemnly strokes the
horse, knowing all is lost.
Joey does not understand. He pulls at Topthorn's reins, as if
trying to pull him upright. Topthorn's body is inert, his
head falls to the earth. Joey will not give up, he pulls at
him desperately not understanding that Topthorn has died.
Suddenly, Friedrich looks around. Chaos - all the German
soldiers stream back past their position, scrambling to get
their guns and helmets. An officer charges down the bank next
to the bridge, screaming orders at Friedrich.
They're coming! Leave it, private!
Friedrich tries to pull Joey away to safety but Joey will not
leave Topthorn's body. Friedrich pulls at Joey, but Joey is
too lost in his grief to care about or even notice the
GERMAN OFFICER (CONT'D)
Leave it! Come with me!
Go to hell!
The officer nods to two other soldiers who pull Friedrich to
safety. As he's dragged away, he screams at Joey:
Run. Run! Run! Run!
But this is all background noise to Joey's profound refusal
to accept Topthorn is dead. He paws at the ground next to
Topthorn, a horse standing over his best friend in a field,
and he will never leave him.
And then suddenly - from around a blind turn in the
streambed, a huge, remorseless tank turns, heading right for
Joey. He bolts, galloping down the streambed, until he
reaches a barbed wire barrier - a dead end. He attempts to
run up the banks, but they're blocked, as well. He rears up,
but the tank keeps advancing.
The tank is about to crush Joey. He has left it too late. He
is about to die.
But then, counter-intuitively, he runs straight towards the
tank and...leaps over it - a leap he learnt from Emilie. Then
scrambles up and over it and leaps down behind.
Joey keeps on running. He is wild, frightened.
EXT. COUNTRYSIDE / VILLAGE / TRENCH. THE SAME.
Joey is free - in countryside - but there is blood pouring
from his leg, clearly torn by his encounter with the tank. He
runs on - it is becoming night - suddenly there are
explosions to the left of him - this fast, elegant creature
simply runs through the gaps between explosions.
But as he charges on - the sky lights up in the direction he
is heading. He is suddenly in the thick of battle. A shell
explodes next to him, and he leaps entirely over a trench.
Another explosion sends him leaping, but not far enough - he
finds himself crashing downwards, and into a trench - and he
races through it - and finds himself charging towards a
German company. Both sides are equally startled - Joey
charging through a thin trench lined with German soldiers -
the soldiers, finding a live horse careering through them.
In desperation, Joey scrambles out of the trench - and once
again, rushes away from the fighting...
But now it is very dark indeed - he is stumbling as he runs -
there is blood mixed with the mud on his legs.
Now it is total night - fog - confusion - he jumps again. And
now everywhere there are potholes - the land is massively
uneven - shells are exploding all around. And suddenly sees
in front of him barbed wire. He crashes through it - more -
he bursts through again - now dragging barriers behind him -
the barriers tangle, pulling him up short - he flips and
lands amongst even more barbed wire.
He pulls and turns to release himself but it is impossible.
The more he pulls, the more firmly he is trapped. He rises
up, wild, magnificent, a beast fighting for his life.
He is completely trapped. He cannot move. He cannot see. He
is in pain. He falls. It feels like an end.
EXT. BRITISH TRENCH. THE SAME.
GEORDIE SOLDIER (O.S.)
Stand to, stand to -
A young soldier, a Geordie, is on look-out duty. He looks
through a periscope. He alerts his colleague in his thick,
northern, Newcastle accent.
GEORDIE SOLDIER (CONT'D)
There's something moving.
What the hell is it?
It looks like a cow.
He passes the periscope to the second soldier.
What the hell would a cow be doing out
We see what he sees - nothing but morning mist on the surreal
landscape - and something strange. It is Joey in the distance
That definitely isn't a cow.
(handing over periscope)
Well, what is it?
EXT. GERMAN TRENCH. THE SAME.
We see an almost identical scene of several German soldiers
looking out at Joey just as the British soldiers had done.
It can't be a horse. Nothing alive could be
It isn't a horse. It isn't a horse.
The first German looks through his periscope. We see what he
sees - Joey in the mist:
Yes - it's a horse.
The second German looks through the periscope, stunned.
It's a horse.
A third German (PETER) lowers his binoculars.
Yeah, it's a horse.
EXT. BRITISH TRENCHES. THE SAME.
Now all the soldiers are gathering to look out at Joey. A
CAPTAIN now has the periscope.
Well, bugger me. It's a horse.
Lads, we should call him.
How do you call a horse?
The Geordie starts clicking his tongue, followed by all of
his comrades. They all try to attract Joey's attention with
EXT. GERMAN TRENCH. THE SAME.
The Germans hear the clicks and respond with a chorus of
EXT. BRITISH TRENCHES. THE SAME.
Now both sides are whistling. Even the captain joins in.
EXT. NO MAN'S LAND. THE SAME.
Joey tries to rise, but remains entangled. He whinnies in
EXT. GERMAN TRENCH. THE SAME.
Peter lowers his binoculars.
He's caught on the wire.
EXT. BRITISH TRENCHES, THE SAME.
Oh sod it...
Geordie climbs up the side of the trench, and waves a white
handkerchief tied to the end of his bayonet.
What do you think you're doing? Get
back, do you hear me? Corporal,
that's an order! Get back!
Geordie, not receiving fire, is emboldened to stand up.
Listen to him, sir. We can't leave him.
He waves the handkerchief to clearly signal he is no threat.
EXT. GERMAN TRENCH. THE SAME.
The Germans look at the young soldier making his way over No
What's he doing?
It's a trap.
No, I don't think so. I think he's
trying to help.
The second German cocks his rifle and starts to take aim.
Scare him back into his hole.
The second German takes a shot aimed over the Geordie's
EXT. NO MAN'S LAND. THE SAME.
The Geordie crouches for cover, waving his handkerchief more
It's a white flag, ent it? You see
the white flag!? I'm just after
tending to this here horse, is all!
The Georgie marshals his courage and stands again, waving the
Get back, you stupid git!
There's no fire from the German trenches. Muttering to
himself, the Geordie marches forward towards Joey:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not
want, he leadeth me into green
pastures, he lay me down beside the
The Geordie walks very slowly across the mud - there are
bodies - the ground squelches beneath his feet. He waves his
handkerchief as he walks. He crosses a narrow bridge that
spans a flooded bomb crater.
Joey, lying on his side, wrapped head to toe in barbed wire,
covered in mud, watches Geordie approach. When Geordie gets
too close, Joey freaks out and begins thrashing about. Joey
whinnies a high scream of pain, because wire is cutting into
his hide in several places, and as he thrashes it cuts him
deeper. Particularly worrisome is a strand that's wrapped
around his head, crossing right over his eye, threatening to
slash it. The Geordie calls out in a soothing voice:
Poor beastie. Poor babbie. It's
alright. It's alright. Don't buck
and wriggle so, you're only
Joey calms a little, still moving his head up and down.
You'll blind yourself.
He reaches Joey and surveys the formidable tangle of wire in
which Joey's bundled. The Geordie soothes and at the same
time gingerly tests other strands, trying to figure out where
Bugger me worthless - I didn't think
to bring gloves or something to cut
He stabs his hand on one of the barbs.
OW! DAMN! OW!!
There's a noise behind him, and the Geordie turns around to
see the Peter (the German from the trench) standing several
feet away, holding some wire cutters.
I thought perhaps you might need
He holds out the wire cutters. The Geordie, still
frightened, stares stupidly at them.
For the barbed wire?
Yeah, yeah I... Ummm, thanks.
He reaches out and takes the proffered cutters.
He returns to Joey, nervous about turning his back. He tries
to figure out where to begin cutting. He lifts a long strand
of wire that wraps around Joey's neck, stretches across his
shoulder and torso and around one of his front legs. He puts
the wire in the crux of the cutters and is preparing to snip
when Peter steps closer to him.
That...That's a very long strand.
When you cut it, it's going to
release this -
He points to a wire wrapped around the wire the Geordie's
lifting. Then he points to two other wires, similarly
- and this, and this, and they'll
coil back rather violently, which
I'm afraid will only wound the poor
The Geordie nods.
You speak good English.
I speak English well.
(re: the cutters)
The Geordie hands them over and Peter surveys the wires.
What if we cut his head free first?
So he won't try to stand up and
blind himself? And then -
Pity you didn't bring a second pair.
Then I could cut the wire here -
He points to one of the wires entangled with the strand he'd
been prepared to cut.
Peter stands and shouts in the direction of his trench.
WE NEED MORE WIRE CUTTERS!
All at once one, two, three, six pairs of cutters come
soaring through the air and splash into the watery crater.
Moments later - Peter and the Geordie kneel beside Joey, each
with a pair of cutters.
Joey is calming down again.
The Geordie positions himself across Joey's body so that when
he's cut the wire, it won't coil back and cut Joey. Peter
positions himself to be able to cut the two wires in quick
succession, holding the first wire to stop it from springing
Joey's completely still now.
Peter points between Joey's eyes.
His blind spot. The cutters won't
frighten him. If you could cut
here, holding this wire -
He points to wires that intersect the wire that crosses
Joey's eye. Then he points to the wire across Joey's eye.
I could -
Say no more, I'm right behind you.
As they reposition themselves, the Geordie says to Joey:
And you understand what's happening,
do you not, O Best Beloved? That you
must lay so very nice and still.
There's a lad, you're a remarkable
horse, you are, helping us help you.
There's a lad. There's a remarkable
The Geordie looks into Joey's huge eye as he and Peter get to
work on their cutting. Joey returns his gaze.
So how's things in yonder trench?
Delightful. We read, we knit
sweaters, and we train our rats to
perform circus tricks.
Well, if ever you need any more
rats, we can always send ours over.
`Cause we've more than we need,
strictly speaking. Besides, they
scare off all the pretty girls.
Our girls aren't afraid of rats.
Big strapping German girls, eh? Kind
what gives robust massages?
Every Thursday! And they bring rum
cake on your birthday.
Both men smile at this while Joey is completely still; they
work quickly, in concert, cutting the horse's head free of
Joey raises his head, gives it a shake, neighs and then stirs
a little. The two soldiers smile at one another. Then they
set about cutting the rest of the wire; it's much easier now.
The Geordie cuts through the last wire binding Joey's legs.
The two soldiers help as the horse staggers upright.
Look at that horse! Look at the
muscles he's got, them long legs.
They're made for running, horses.
Runnin' away from danger.
Running away is all they have.
Yet we taught `em opposite. Running
into the fray.
Yeah. War horse. And there he is.
What a strange beast you've become.
The Geordie grabs hold of Joey's halter, though Joey shows no
sign of running.
Joey is finally free.
The two men look at each other.
I take him back with me, yeah?
Since I supplied the cutters, the
horse is mine. This is fair, no?
In a pig's eye. He's English, plain
Oh, you mean because he's so filthy?
Because he's so smart. And you're
none too clean yourself.
We could box. And the winner gets
The Geordie smiles.
No, thanks, pet. Must be careful not
to start a war.
(patting his pockets:)
Do you have a coin of any sort?
He takes a coin from his pocket, hands it to the Geordie, who
looks at it.
All right, Fritz - you're on.
He flips the coin back to Peter.
My name is not Fritz - it is Peter.
Peter - I'm Colin.
You call it, Colin.
Peter spins it in the air and lets it fall into the mud. They
look down. Peter shakes his head, resigned.
That's the face of my Kaiser and he does not
look pleased with me. The horse is yours.
They collect their helmets as snow begins to blow around
Gone quiet, hasn't it?
But wait half an hour and we'll be shooting
I'm a terrible shot, Pete, don't believe
I'll ever hit the target.
He hands back the cutters.
He notices the Geordie has offered his hand, as well. A
beat, then Peter shakes with him.
You'll take good care of him, yes?
Our strange beast.
And you take care of your own
Peter tosses Geordie his cutters.
Colin! A pair of German cutters - in memory
of your handsome friend from Dusseldorf.
Peter nods, and walks back to his trench. As he goes, the
Geordie calls after him:
I'll use `em back in the garden in
South Shields. You keep your head
down, now, Pete me lad!
As he walks away, Peter turns back briefly, calling:
Remarkable! A remarkable horse!
The Geordie leads Joey towards the British trenches.
EXT. TRENCHES. THE SAME.
Joey is now in the trenches, splashing about in the ankle
deep water. He seems enormous in this cramped labyrinth. He
is led past the broken and wounded soldiers who look at him
with amazement, dumbfounded. It is a surreal image. The horse
where horses shouldn't be.
As Joey makes his journey through the trenches soldiers
excitedly gather to watch him come by, taking pleasure in the
saving of this single life.
EXT. TRENCHES. THE SAME.
We arrive at a section we recognise as the place from where
Albert set off only the night before. Sergeant Martin is
there - as one man helps a wounded soldier into a medical
area. It is David, hobbling and looking shell-shocked.
Another wounded soldier approaches, but Martin waves him on.
We're full up. Move on.
David is seated next to Albert, who now seems in worse
condition. His eyes are bandaged and he's wheezing. Andrew
is nowhere to be seen. As a MEDICAL OFFICER checks Albert:.
The gas got him - we had to wait
The medic moves to Sergeant Martin, looking stricken.
This can't be all of us.
This is all.
(bellowing to the men)
All walking wounded, away to the
dressing station! Away to the
EXT. HOSPITAL AREA. LATER.
Joey is led into the hospital area beyond the trenches. The
Geordie leads him through the snowy streets. Bandaged men
strewn around, wounded soldiers waiting for attention.
The waiting soldiers gather to view the strange spectacle of
At one of the dressing areas, a NURSE tends to Albert's
damaged eyes. Behind him, we see Joey pass in the street,
but Albert doesn't know it.
Joey limps, his foreleg clearly injured. The Geordie soldier
stops outside a makeshift hospital. Joey looks frail and
A DOCTOR storms over from his patients.
What's this doing here?
We need a vet, sir.
There are no vets. We've scarcely
any horses left.
He's cut all over, but this leg
here's got the worst of it.
Geordie strokes Joey as the Doctor examines him.
It's probably tetanus. It's no good.
Please, sir -
The Doctor heads back into the hospital, dismissive.
I've all these men to take care of,
corporal, you can see that, can't
Please, sir, this horse can pull
The doctor absorbs his earnest appeal.
EXT. INTENSIVE CARE TENT. SAME.
Elsewhere, a line of soldiers waiting for medical assistance
are curious about what is going on. Blinded by gas, eyes
bandaged, one of them turns toward the commotion. It is
What is it?
It's a horse they found, wandering about in
No Man's Land.
(easing him back onto a
Down you go.
What kind of an horse?
Bloody miraculous kind of an horse,
be my guess. Nothing makes it out
of No Man's Land.
Albert lies there, but can't let go of the thought:
EXT. HOSPITAL AREA. SAME.
Joey stands - breathing very deeply. The Doctor touches his
The men from all over the medical area gather around Joey
concerned about their new hero's pain.
The doctor looks at the Geordie and frowns shaking his head
(to the doctor:)
He was alive, y'see, sir, where
nothing survives, so to me and me
mates, to the men, sir, he's - Well,
we have high hopes for him -
You should shoot him now.
The Geordie is broken hearted.
Oh, but I can't.
It'd be a mercy, lad, that leg's not
going to mend.
The Doctor sadly addresses a nearby Sergeant.
Sergeant. Put him out of his misery.
The doctor nods his head towards Joey. The sergeant, SERGEANT
FRY, takes his gun from his holster, checks that it's loaded.
He turns to some nearby NURSES, urging them away.
Ladies, if you please.
Total silence from the crowd who have gathered. They thought
they were there to see something wonderful. And now they find
that they've gathered for an execution - but can't take their
eyes off it. The Sergeant waves them back.
SERGEANT FRY (CONT'D)
All right, back off. Back off.
The Geordie is the last to step away from Joey. The sergeant
draws breath - before he steps forward to take aim. Joey is
totally still, sensing the atmosphere.
The sergeant cocks his pistol.
Suddenly there is a strange owl like whistle from fifty yards
away. Joey looks around startled.
The sergeant turns Joey's head back around, raises his pistol
Then, the whistle again. Even the doctor notices this time.
Joey turns. Slowly, the crowd parts - another owl whistle -
and we see Albert, his eyes bandaged - walking forward
blindly - guided by the hands of the crowd.
One soldier urges Albert gently.
Go on. Do it again.
One more whistle.
And this time, Joey trots over to Albert. The horse nuzzles
into him. Albert can't see Joey but he touches him.
Hello, Joey. Hello boy. Where you
been then, hey? Where in the world
He strokes Joey's mane. Joey responds, becoming very still.
The Doctor approaches with the Geordie.
(to the Geordie:)
Do you know this man?
The Geordie shakes his head, no. The Doctor speaks to Albert,
gently; clearly he thinks he's dealing with a traumatized,
possibly crazy soldier.
What's your name?
Albert, realizing he's being addressed, turns to the doctor.
Narracott, Private Albert Narracott,
This is a random horse, Narracott,
and too badly injured.
(to the orderly)
Is this man in your care?
He's not random at all, sir! He's my
horse, I raised him, in Devon. Sir,
look at his legs! He's got four
white socks, he's brown all over -
(points to his own
- and he has a white mark here -
He makes the shape of a diamond with his hands. The doctor
turns to the orderly.
Take him back.
Come on, son.
Wait! You can't see `cause of the
The Geordie looks around, spots a bucket of water, grabs it
and uses a rag to clean Joey's legs, revealing the socks. The
Geordie looks at the doctor.
Four white socks!
The doctor takes a rag himself and wipes Joey's snout,
revealing the white diamond mark.
The Sergeant takes this in...and holsters his pistol.
All right, break it up. Clear off,
the lot of ya.
You see, sir? He's not random at
The doctor steps up to him.
We will attend to your horse. Patch
him up best we can. Treat him like
the soldier he is.
Thank you, sir.
With one last amazed look at Albert and Joey, the doctor
returns to the hospital area.
Moments later - Albert, the Geordie, and Sergeant Fry all
lead Joey through the snowy street together.
EXT. MESS HALL. EARLY MORNING.
Sergeant Fry strides into the middle of the throng of
Gentlemen! Gentlemen! It falls on me to give
you some important news. At eleven o'clock
today, in two minutes time - the War will
come to an end.
Shock from the troops. Strangely muted. Not the explosion of
emotion you might have expected.
Albert enters, his eyes still red, but no longer bandaged.
SERGEANT FRY (CONT'D)
The King and Queen thank you for your
service. We have been victorious - even if
at a higher price than many of us might have
SERGEANT FRY (CONT'D)
When the bells ring out - and they will in a
moment, for the first time for four years -
let us remember our brothers fallen in the
field. And thank God for the end of this
struggle and victory.
And, in the distance, the church bells ring.
INT. STABLES. THE SAME.
Joey stands tall, eating some hay, now healed.
INT. FIELD OFFICE. DAY.
Complete change of atmosphere. Silence. Tension. Albert
stands at attention with Sergeant Fry. A severe Major is
behind his desk.
I don't understand, sir.
Officers' horses only. All other
horses are to be auctioned
That is a complete and bloody outrage. It's
the lad's horse, sir, from Devon. He raised
him up from a pup, he did. Trained him
right up to the day when the army came to
These aren't my orders, sergeant.
You'll have to take him to market. That's
INT. STABLES, DAY.
Albert puts on a brave face as he collects Joey and leads him
out of the stables in silence.
EXT. THE STABLES, THE SAME.
As Albert comes out the men have gathered. There's a strange
sense of optimism, for such a gloomy moment. The Geordie
comes up to Albert and hands him a sheaf of pound notes.
We've all clubbed together. It's everything
we have. There's twenty-nine pounds there.
Buy him back.
Does the Major know?
The Major put in ten.
The Geordie flashes a sly wink.
Mum's the word where the Major's
concerned. Your friend on the
crutches over there -
He turns to indicate David Lyons, who nods at Albert
- even asked the Major to say that
Joey was his, an officer's horse, so
that he could go back with the
Albert is amazed. He is about to show his gratitude when the
sergeant major shouts:
Come on, Narracott! Get a move on. We don't
want to miss the show.
Albert snaps to attention and begins to lead Joey out of the
parade ground with the other horses.
As they walk off, the sergeant silently adds some of his own
money to the notes in Albert's hand.
EXT. MARKET PLACE. DAY.
The intense bustle of the market. Farmers are gathered,
bidding for horses.
Seven pounds! Seven pounds there!
Seven pounds! Eight pounds here!
A groom leads Joey to the auction pen with other horses.
Eight pounds! Ten pounds here! Any
INT. AUCTION PEN. THE SAME.
Albert waits anxiously, the Geordie lad by his side, as Joey
is led into the pen.
You're alright. Nobody's gonna bid more than
fifteen for a thoroughbred. They want work
The auctioneer starts the bidding on Joey.
Next one. We start at four pounds.
The farmers seem disinterested, shaking of heads. The bidding
starts. Five pounds, six, seven, now it goes slowly, eight,
nine, ten. Albert looks pleased at how it's going. He feels
the cash in his hand. It seems to stick on ten, then a new
hand comes up at the back of the auction - it is a nasty
looking moustached man.
Sergeant Fry scowls.
It's the butcher from Cambrai. He's
been bidding for the best all
Eleven. Eleven pounds. Eleven pounds.
Let me handle this, private.
(he calls out) )
Fifteen, and let that be an end to it.
He looks daggers at the Butcher.
Twenty of your English pounds. And let THAT
be the end of it, my friend.
Twenty five pounds.
Twenty six pounds.
The men are all looking very worried... There's not much
Twenty eight pounds.
Any advance at thirty pounds?
Then, from the back, another, new French voice...
One hundred pounds.
He steps to the front of the crowd, and suddenly we see who
it is. It is Emilie's Grandfather.
And sir, if you bid against me, I will sell
the coat on my back and bid to one hundred
and ten. And if you bid against me again, I
will sell my farm and bid to a thousand.
Everyone looks at Albert who is devastated. Albert is
reeling. He hears the auctioneer repeat the final amount and
brings down his gavel.
One hundred pounds. Going, going,
The soldiers slowly disperse, leaving Albert to stare at
Joey. It really is all over.
EXT. THE AUCTION. THE SAME.
The Grandfather finishes paying for Joey. Albert and the
Geordie stand in front of the grandfather.
Sir, I'll give you all your money.
Everything you paid when we get back
to England. I'll give you twice -
You don't know anything about him.
Oh, but you're wrong, sir, I know
Yes, you found him! I heard you
found a horse in the wire between
the armies -
No, I found him, he raised him -
The Grandfather goes to Joey and takes his reins.
When I heard about the miracle
horse, I traveled three days because
I knew whose horse it was. My
granddaughter's. She saved his life!
He was everything to her.
He pauses, briefly, to collect himself.
Where is your granddaughter?
The war has taken everything from
everyone. He is all that I have left
The Grandfather leads Joey away. Joey pulls, firmly but not
wildly, on the rein the grandfather's holding. The
grandfather lets go.
He watches as Joey walks to Albert and nuzzles him. They have
a moment together. The Grandfather watches carefully.
Albert puts his face right near Joey - speaks gently.
Don't be worried, boy, when I go. I
won't worry over you none. Hey, I
found you, didn't I, and you found
Grandfather softens and begins to wonder about this soldier.
And we'll both... we'll both know
that we made it through. Now go on.
He leads Joey back to the Grandfather.
We're the lucky ones. Always have
been. Lucky since the day I met you.
He quietly hands over the reins.
God be with you, sir.
The grandfather looks at Albert, then takes the regimental
pennant from his pocket:
Do you know what this is?
It's my father's. It's his
regimental pennant. How did you come
by this, sir?
Grandfather hands Albert the pennant.
You may have this.
Albert takes the pennant and looks at it, his eyes filling
Thank you ever so much for this,
(with a sigh)
... And this.
He hands Albert Joey's reins. Albert turns to face him,
almost mute with disbelief. He reaches for his money.
No no, not necessary. He belongs to
you. That is, of course, what my
little girl would have wanted. And
she was the boss.
Grandfather laughs, then turns and slowly walks away.
What was her name?
(turns back with a smile)
Her name is Emilie.
Albert gently embraces Joey.
EXT. FIELD. DEVON. DUSK.
Suddenly, we are back in the village in Devon, in the fold of
the valley. Dusk light. A figure approaches, silhouetted
against the setting sun.
Mrs. Naracott gathers the harvest, then notices as the figure
makes its way up the road to the farm.
A man in uniform. On a magnificent horse. Mrs. Narracott
meets them at the gate and we can finally see them clearly -
Albert and Joey.
Albert dismounts and removes his cap. An instant later, Mrs.
Narracott is hugging him for all that her life is worth.
EXT. ANOTHER PART OF THE FIELD. DEVON. THE SAME.
Ted sees them and makes his way to the field gate...shaky.
Albert approaches, and stops a slight distance away.
Ted opens the gate to stand before his son. Albert slips
something from his pocket and lets it unfurl in his hand -
Ted's campaign pennant.
Ted accepts it quietly, then offers his hand to Albert. They
shake, as men. And then slowly embrace, as father and son.
Mrs. Narracott joins them as Joey looks on - a small family
and a beautiful horse, finally home.