There's a scene in War Horse where Albert is riding the horse, Joey, across a pasture. A road happens to run through the pasture. And on this road happens to be a car. In this car happens to be David Lyons. David Lyons happens to be the son of "Lyons". Lyons happens to be the mean landlord of Ted Narracott who had recently tried to kick Ted and his family off their farm. Albert happens to be the son of Ted Narracott.
There also happens to be a girl in the car. The girl in the above photo.
Watch this scene.
I had asked the same question.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Albert: Jeremy Irvine
Unlucky Dad: Peter Mullan
Strong Mom: Emily Watson
Albert's best friend: Matt Milne
Landlord's Son: Robert Emms
Captain Nicholls: Tom Hiddleston
German kid: David Kross
German's kid's brother: Leonard Carow
Grandfather who owns Windmill: Niels Arestrup
Granddaughter who loves ribbons in her hair: Celine Buckens
Sgt Fry: Eddie Marsan
1. edited on 1/8/2012: Originally, this section dealt with figuring out the identity of the actress, because she wasn't listed on IMDB and she was deleted from the wikipedia page (see below). I was stumped because if you googled "Elisabeth Ogden" (how she was listed on wikipedia), nothing came up. It turns out if you google "Beth Ogden War Horse" (as opposed to "Elisabeth") you get various billing sites crediting her as "David Lyons's Girlfriend". I forgot people don't always go by their full name. So this first section of the inquiry is pretty irrelevant at this point.
Beth is a model at Models 1, in London. Thanks to Mark (see comments section) for the answer.
2. Billing aside, what's "the girl in the car"'s relevancy to the plot of the film?
If she were only in the car scene, I wouldn't be asking this question. The scene would demonstrate the allure of Man-Riding-Horse over Spoiled-Snotty-Kid-With-Car. It would show us the power of Albert and Joey as a team. It adds to the mystique.
But she's not relegated to that scene alone. She comes up in discussion later in the movie. Albert still thinks about her. He asks David for her name. This could be because both are in the trenches, about to leave the trenches and charge the German position, and Albert wants to know for peace of mind. This gets at a psychological aspect of war.
David doesn't answer. Albert doesn't find out. Even after the two become friendly, we don't see David tell Albert her name. Maybe you expect Albert to return from the war and meet her. Or that she'll be working as a nurse and treat his wounds and they connect. No and no. She's gone. She never returns. The goose has more closure than she does (it serves its purpose by chasing Lyons and his men off of the Narracott farm).
Does her role really matter? Is she important to the movie? I don't think so. It's just interesting to me that in a film so...meticulous in its structuring, that's made up of vignettes each with its own conclusion, there's something left open.
But I guess that's appropriate for War Horse. It isn't a traditional love story. So by avoiding the conventional love story completely, Albert's love for Joey isn't mitigated in any way.
We could also look at this in another way. Several critics have made the point that the color saturation of the final scene is reminiscent of Gone with the Wind.
The scene in Wind occurs just before intermission. It's the turning point of the film's tone and of the main character Scarlett O'Hara. Her life was bounteous, luxuriant. Then the Civil War struck and she lost everything. Part II focuses on her doing what she has to to survive, to thrive.
In War Horse, the scene happens at the end. Albert, like Scarlett, has lost everything he has known. Except the life Albert knew was hardship, simplicity, an inability to communicate with his father, and grief at having lost Joey. He returns mature, with Joey, with an understanding of his father, and ready to begin Part II of his life.
Which may include finding that nameless girl.
Did I Like It:
Yes. Though I've never watched a movie try so hard to make the audience laugh and cry and fear. Spielberg's the master of creating drama and stakes. In War Horse his methods are primitive and obvious. Other critics point this out. The mean landlord versus the stricken farmer. The boy who wants to keep the horse versus the dad who has to sell the horse to afford rent. The entire movie is a series of these "good versus not so good" or "good versus bad" conflicts. And even though we understand the artifice of this, they still trigger our emotions. So I liked the movie, but it also disgusted me a little.
Dana Stevens did a good job writing about this conflict.
I think Tom Hiddleston stole the movie, acting-wise. Or, at least, in terms of screen presence. I did not like him in Thor, did not recognize him in this, so was stunned when I found out it was the same person. And I just remembered he played Fitzgerald in Midnight in Paris. Nice.
When can we start comparing Joey's "angry dash through No-Man's-Land" to Kevin Bacon's "Angry Dance" in Footloose? Can that start now?
I cried. It annoyed me that I was crying. But, nonetheless. Stupid Spielberg.
I'm pretty sure nearly every Spielberg movie has a loss of innocence as a major plot point. Even Jurassic Park and Minority Report. (That dinosaurs can be harmless zoo animals; that the pre-Cogs are full-proof)
What It's Good For:
-an emotional and enjoyable viewing experience
-Spielberg in all his glory
-John Ford lovers
-obvious in trying to manipulate our emotions
-the melodrama of Topthorn's death
-off-screen death of Emilie
% Character / % Actor's personality
Spielberg: Jurassic Park; Jaws; Minority Report; E.T.; do I really have to list these?
Thewlis: Total Eclipse; HP: Azkaban, Phoenix, Half-Blood, Deathly Hollows 1 & 2 ; The New World; Anonymous
Hiddleston: Thor; Midnight in Paris
Horse movies: All the Pretty Horse; The Horse Whisperer; Hidalgo; Black Beauty