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The War

original film poster
Directed by Jon Avnet
Produced by Island World
Written by Kathy McWorter
Starring Elijah Wood
Kevin Costner
Mare Winningham
Lexi Faith Randall
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography Geoffrey Simpson
Editing by Debra Neil-Fisher
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) November 4, 1994
Running time 126 minutes
Country U.S.A
Language English
Gross revenue $16,480,770.00

The War is a 1994 drama film directed by Jon Avnet. Starring Elijah Wood, Kevin Costner and Mare Winningham. It is a coming of age tale set in Mississippi in the 1970s. The film gained Wood a young actor's award.



At the beginning of the movie Stephen, a shell-shocked Vietnam veteran, returns from a mental hospital, which he entered voluntarily because he was suffering from nightmares about the war and had in consequence lost three jobs in a row. After having been treated in that hospital, when he finally lives with his family again, he gets a new job as custodial engineer at a grammar school, but loses it again within less than one week because there is a law which forbids people who spent time in a mental hospital to work within the vicinity of children. However, the Simmons dearly need money, for they are incredibly poor and Lois' earnings are hardly sufficient for buying what they need, so Stephen desperately tries to get another job and finds one where he has to gather potatoes off a field. There he makes friends with a man called Moe Henry, with whom he succeeds in obtaining his best job so far, which is one in a mine.
In the meantime, while their father is looking for jobs, the twins Lidia and Stu try to get away from the dreary reality of their lives. They find a wonderful tree in a forest close to their house and decide to build a tree house there. At first they and their friends have an argument over who has to construct it and who is allowed to use it, for the three boys Stu, Chet and Marsh want it all to themselves, while the girls Lidia, Elvadine and Amber want them to work on it and share it afterwards. After several deals, they agree to build the tree house together. The girls get everything they need from some sort of garbage heap that belongs to the Lipnickis, a neighbouring family, who have a grudge against the Simmons and their friends. Unfortunately Billy, the youngest of the Lipnicki kids, discovers Lidia, Elvadine and Amber on his father's territory, so the girls have to pay him to keep quiet, yet later his brothers force him to betray Lidia's secret.
While the children are busy building their tree house, Stephen and Moe have an accident in the mine when rocks and water suddenly come crashing down on them. Moe gets half buried there, but Stephen, who in Vietnam had to leave his best friend to die in order to be rescued himself, is determined to save him, even if it costs him his own life. He manages to free Moe, and the two men are both rescued, but Stephen is badly off and has to be put on machines in the hospital he is brought to.
While Stu and Lidia fear for their father's life, the Lipnickis arrive at their tree house and attempt to occupy the place. However, they agree on a deal which they lose, so the twins and their friends can keep the place. Shortly afterwards, their father dies, and when the kids run away from home to the tree house, they discover that their enemies have returned. In the fight that errups between them, the tree house is destroyed, and as another result of former events, Billy Lipnicki almost drowns in a nearby water tower. Stu rescues him and resuscitates him together with Lidia, and from that time on the Lipnickis stop fighting with the others and stay out of their way, except for Billy, who becomes a good friend of them. The twins and their friends then start to rebuild the tree house, but give it up after a couple of days due to lack of interest. Also, they find out that their father bought them a new house before he died and are happy to have a proper home again at last.



The movie was produced by Island World, and distributed by Universal Pictures, United International Pictures, and Argentina Video Home. Eric Eisner executive produced.

The film received a PG-13 by the MPAA. It has a 126 minute run time.

Critical response

Wood's performance in this movie gained him a nomination for a 'Young Star Award' (for which he was nominated four times, and won twice), and Roger Ebert said in his review of the film that:

"Elijah Wood has emerged, I believe, as the most talented actor in his age group, in Hollywood history".[1]


External links

The War at the Internet Movie Database

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