War Horse (12A)

Film

War films

Le Cheval de guerre

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Jan 10 2012

Steven Spielberg plunges us into an overlit, twee vision of early twentieth-century Devon at the start of ‘War Horse’ and we spend much of the rest of this harmless, conventional adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s novel seeking – even aching for – the real world amid the artifice. It’s in Devon that we meet young Albert (Jeremy Irvine), his farming parents (Emily Watson, Peter Mullan) and the horse, Joey, to whom he becomes attached and whose various owners lead us to the Western Front and back again. It’s only when three army officers, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston and Patrick Kennedy with a verve missing in the earlier scenes, enter the movie and charge into battle that we encounter anything resembling the brio we expect from the director of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘ET’.

Spielberg still manages to surprise and impress. There’s a smart image of the revolving blade of a windmill masking an execution in rural France. When it feels like his depiction of war is too soft, his camera sweeps up to reveal a scarred battlefield. There are other strong moments: the horse’s dash through battle offers much-needed flesh and blood, while there’s a moment of minimal spectacle and measured emotion as two opposing soldiers meet during a ceasefire to help free the beast.

The main problem with ‘War Horse’ is not that it’s episodic – which it is: the horse’s odyssey leads him to various people and places, fatally relegating Irvine’s Albert to a distant memory – but that Spielberg doesn’t solve the conundrum of having an animal at the heart of his film. For Morpurgo, it was a first-horse narration. For the play, it was scene-stealing puppetry. All Spielberg can do is observe the creature, make the most of its few situations of peril and hope the surrounding drama is distracting enough. Fairytale, quasi-mythical visions of life, even war, are fine, but there’s an alienating push and pull here between the savagery of war and Spielberg’s fear of scaring the horses.

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Release details

Rated:

12A

UK release:

Fri Jan 13, 2012

Duration:

146 mins

Cinemas showing War Horse

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The Harlequin Theatre And Cinema

Warwick Quadrant, Redhill, RH1 1NN Show map/details

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    The Harlequin Theatre And Cinema Warwick Quadrant
    Redhill
    RH1 1NN

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:9
  • 4 star:7
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:6
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|68
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deec

For once I completely agree with the Timeout review. Yes its an OK film and it deserves 3 stars but no more. I have read this book and the book is written from the horses point of view. As a non horse lover I thought this would be my worst nightmare to read but it is written amazingly and you really warm to war horse and what he endures through the war. I dont think the film captures this at all. It leaves really important parts out, plays down the father at the start and doesnt build a big enough picture around the involvement of the grandfather and grandaughter. I also agree with the reviewer who commented on the other 3 1/2 years of the war being missing. Spielberg does not show enough of the bond between Topthorn and Joey with Topthorn's death being really underplayed and also what happens to Joey after that. Yes the war scenes are ok but this is not really the point of the story and as another reviewer pointed out was probably an opportunity for Spielberg to make up for previous cheesy American war films. As a Scot, the bagpipes during one war scene immediately disctracted me from the film as I thought "No!". Who honestly would have put these in a film other than a cheesy American. I also agree about the varied and mixed accents and the skyline at the end. What was that all about and what was the point in even mentioning the girl from the village if it wasnt going to show you her with Albert and Joey at the end?? They made more of that in the film than in the book then ignored it? A little disappointed all round.

deec

For once I completely agree with the Timeout review. Yes its an OK film and it deserves 3 stars but no more. I have read this book and the book is written from the horses point of view. As a non horse lover I thought this would be my worst nightmare to read but it is written amazingly and you really warm to war horse and what he endures through the war. I dont think the film captures this at all. It leaves really important parts out, plays down the father at the start and doesnt build a big enough picture around the involvement of the grandfather and grandaughter. I also agree with the reviewer who commented on the other 3 1/2 years of the war being missing. Spielberg does not show enough of the bond between Topthorn and Joey with Topthorn's death being really underplayed and also what happens to Joey after that. Yes the war scenes are ok but this is not really the point of the story and as another reviewer pointed out was probably an opportunity for Spielberg to make up for previous cheesy American war films. As a Scot, the bagpipes during one war scene immediately disctracted me from the film as I thought "No!". Who honestly would have put these in a film other than a cheesy American. I also agree about the varied and mixed accents and the skyline at the end. What was that all about and what was the point in even mentioning the girl from the village if it wasnt going to show you her with Albert and Joey at the end?? They made more of that in the film than in the book then ignored it? A little disappointed all round.

Tony W

if you go to the cinema to be entertained, then this film will. if you want deep meaningful characters . complex storylines, clever dialogue then look elsewhere. Spielberg is a Master of Entertainment and you should view his films as such.

Tony W

if you go to the cinema to be entertained, then this film will. if you want deep meaningful characters . complex storylines, clever dialogue then look elsewhere. Spielberg is a Master of Entertainment and you should view his films as such.

Naomi

Firstly this film is incredible. Secondly the timeout reviewer is completely out of line when saying he was thinking to much about scaring the horses and so he should of been no one is going to throw a horse into a situation where it is going to be extremely scared especially as a scared horse is an extremely dangerous thing not only to the horse but others around it too. He did everything he could with what he had to work with and he made a stunning film. You immediately grow attached to the horse and want more than anything for it to return safely. There are some genuinely beautiful scenes to be appreciated in this film. And I am not one to cry on a film but I cried like a baby for ages. It is a definete for horse lovers.

Naomi

Firstly this film is incredible. Secondly the timeout reviewer is completely out of line when saying he was thinking to much about scaring the horses and so he should of been no one is going to throw a horse into a situation where it is going to be extremely scared especially as a scared horse is an extremely dangerous thing not only to the horse but others around it too. He did everything he could with what he had to work with and he made a stunning film. You immediately grow attached to the horse and want more than anything for it to return safely. There are some genuinely beautiful scenes to be appreciated in this film. And I am not one to cry on a film but I cried like a baby for ages. It is a definete for horse lovers.

Amelia

Absolutely loved this film....had a few violent parts but that's what happened in the war so no bad comments really :)

Amelia

Absolutely loved this film....had a few violent parts but that's what happened in the war so no bad comments really :)

caz

excellent film very moving.war scenes graphic but real and educational

caz

excellent film very moving.war scenes graphic but real and educational

TWICK13

Long, boring, over the top acting, very americanised, the kid is bordering on being to "fond" of the horse. I have never written on a site before but I had to write this as an avid movie goer. One of the worst films I have seen for a while, please avoid unless you reall really LOVE horses and american cheeeeesssseeeee.

TWICK13

Long, boring, over the top acting, very americanised, the kid is bordering on being to "fond" of the horse. I have never written on a site before but I had to write this as an avid movie goer. One of the worst films I have seen for a while, please avoid unless you reall really LOVE horses and american cheeeeesssseeeee.

Wol

I agree with Ando S said. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, although I almost did not go to see it after reading the original unfair review. It was so good to watch a film and not have to sit through graphic torture scenes and gratuitous violence. We are not all trying to prove how macho and unshockable we are. This was a 12A and that is how it should be. A brilliant story which I found quite easy to follow; good acting and a few laughs, which is good. I say well done, 5 *s

Wol

I agree with Ando S said. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, although I almost did not go to see it after reading the original unfair review. It was so good to watch a film and not have to sit through graphic torture scenes and gratuitous violence. We are not all trying to prove how macho and unshockable we are. This was a 12A and that is how it should be. A brilliant story which I found quite easy to follow; good acting and a few laughs, which is good. I say well done, 5 *s

Cappybear

Faintly underwhelming and very long family movie with several famous actors in small roles. Couldn't quite believe in it, somehow, and the director laid the sentiment on at the end with a trowel. I hope that the stage show is better than this.

Cappybear

Faintly underwhelming and very long family movie with several famous actors in small roles. Couldn't quite believe in it, somehow, and the director laid the sentiment on at the end with a trowel. I hope that the stage show is better than this.

kaz

Enjoyed the film but as an animal lover found it very hard to watch in parts as horses were transported to France during WW1 and shockingly abused.. Rather twee at times but on the whole good entertainment... large supply of tissues essential

kaz

Enjoyed the film but as an animal lover found it very hard to watch in parts as horses were transported to France during WW1 and shockingly abused.. Rather twee at times but on the whole good entertainment... large supply of tissues essential

Jon

The film looks stunning, the acting is superb and the tale engeges..Highly recommended.;

Jon

The film looks stunning, the acting is superb and the tale engeges..Highly recommended.;

Chas M

Spielberg has made far better films than this.I nearly didn't make it past the first 20 minutes as the overly sweet and sickly character forming was predictable and trite. After 20 minutes the film showed some excellent trench warfare scenes that reflected on the utter futility of war.At this point I was warming to the film but then came the sequence where the horse ran through at least 3 razor wire fences at top speed before being rescued by an excruciatingly badly acted Anglo/German combo that frankly was so corny rhat I squirmed in embarassment. On the plus side it was a visual feast and the south west tourist board will be doing more cartwheels than the majority of the paying public.

Chas M

Spielberg has made far better films than this.I nearly didn't make it past the first 20 minutes as the overly sweet and sickly character forming was predictable and trite. After 20 minutes the film showed some excellent trench warfare scenes that reflected on the utter futility of war.At this point I was warming to the film but then came the sequence where the horse ran through at least 3 razor wire fences at top speed before being rescued by an excruciatingly badly acted Anglo/German combo that frankly was so corny rhat I squirmed in embarassment. On the plus side it was a visual feast and the south west tourist board will be doing more cartwheels than the majority of the paying public.

alan

Steve - you are a complete sucker if you go to see a film and can't be bothered to find anything about it - especially as this is now a famous childrens book and has been on the west end stage for three years. Wake up man!! A very good but perhaps over sentimental tecreation of the stage version.

alan

Steve - you are a complete sucker if you go to see a film and can't be bothered to find anything about it - especially as this is now a famous childrens book and has been on the west end stage for three years. Wake up man!! A very good but perhaps over sentimental tecreation of the stage version.

Jen

Was disappointed to see this. Love horses, love war films, love the vast majority of Spielberg's work, but this was Black Beauty with guns. It just didn't have the nailbiting gravitas of Saving Private Ryan, rather it felt slightly twee and cheesy. Its not Oscar material, that's for sure.

Jen

Was disappointed to see this. Love horses, love war films, love the vast majority of Spielberg's work, but this was Black Beauty with guns. It just didn't have the nailbiting gravitas of Saving Private Ryan, rather it felt slightly twee and cheesy. Its not Oscar material, that's for sure.

scrumpyjack

Respectfully Steve, look for clues. BBFC 12A, TIME OUT "Genre, Action/Adventure, Children's, War" Based on a children's book and a family friendly stage play. There's 3. And if you base your viewing choices on trailers Id guess you are in the cinema for 90% of releases as 90% of trailers are skillfully cut and pretty darn impressive. Treated my old dad to it (he isn't a cinema goer, perhaps 4 times a year) and he LOVED it more than me, so on his behalf here comes five stars. Unfair? Maybe...but no as much as ONE star! tut tut!

scrumpyjack

Respectfully Steve, look for clues. BBFC 12A, TIME OUT "Genre, Action/Adventure, Children's, War" Based on a children's book and a family friendly stage play. There's 3. And if you base your viewing choices on trailers Id guess you are in the cinema for 90% of releases as 90% of trailers are skillfully cut and pretty darn impressive. Treated my old dad to it (he isn't a cinema goer, perhaps 4 times a year) and he LOVED it more than me, so on his behalf here comes five stars. Unfair? Maybe...but no as much as ONE star! tut tut!

Steve

Felt compelled to write once more as my first comment seems to of opened the debating floodgate.. On reflection-why the film angered me was when i saw the trailer in the cinema, it was edited to look like a really grim hard war film like- sav-p-Ryan or thin red line. I had no prior knowledge of a bk or musical-if I had then would of know what to expect. Felt they billed it as great war film to get masses to pay to watch. This left me feeling like I'd been ripped-off! A bit like when ur sold a product & sales guy tells you it's great for this+that. Then you go home and realise it doesn't do what you want and you've just been totally ripped-off! They lied to make the film seem like its something it's not. Then suckers like me go and pay to see it and feel cheated! Wouldn't you agree?

Steve

Felt compelled to write once more as my first comment seems to of opened the debating floodgate.. On reflection-why the film angered me was when i saw the trailer in the cinema, it was edited to look like a really grim hard war film like- sav-p-Ryan or thin red line. I had no prior knowledge of a bk or musical-if I had then would of know what to expect. Felt they billed it as great war film to get masses to pay to watch. This left me feeling like I'd been ripped-off! A bit like when ur sold a product & sales guy tells you it's great for this+that. Then you go home and realise it doesn't do what you want and you've just been totally ripped-off! They lied to make the film seem like its something it's not. Then suckers like me go and pay to see it and feel cheated! Wouldn't you agree?

Ando S

Ok, so there are loads of Spielberg Bashers commenting on War Horse on this site, but I think the Time Out review is pretty fair. This film is a decent old fashioned war movie, aimed at a young audience but one that can easily be enjoyed by adults. Sentimental? Maybe. Unrealistic? Not entirely. Have people here ever owned a horse? The battle scenes are immense, the score grand and, overall, just a wonderful evening out. Far better than the latest Indiana Jones, anyway.

Ando S

Ok, so there are loads of Spielberg Bashers commenting on War Horse on this site, but I think the Time Out review is pretty fair. This film is a decent old fashioned war movie, aimed at a young audience but one that can easily be enjoyed by adults. Sentimental? Maybe. Unrealistic? Not entirely. Have people here ever owned a horse? The battle scenes are immense, the score grand and, overall, just a wonderful evening out. Far better than the latest Indiana Jones, anyway.

Nick

Crikey this was bad. I've been chuckling about this film ever since I emerged from the cinema last night - shell shocked at the time, I was still pondering the fate of the French farmers granddaughter and Neds turnips, and perhaps wondering why Devon looked like Gone with the wind crossed with a Stella Artois advert. But seriously, if this film makes you cry with anything other than laughter you should be very worried.

Nick

Crikey this was bad. I've been chuckling about this film ever since I emerged from the cinema last night - shell shocked at the time, I was still pondering the fate of the French farmers granddaughter and Neds turnips, and perhaps wondering why Devon looked like Gone with the wind crossed with a Stella Artois advert. But seriously, if this film makes you cry with anything other than laughter you should be very worried.

scrumpyjack

Another viewing 1) to ensure I wasn't losing it! 2) as first saw it on my nearest's good but not best screen 3) really enjoyed it. Can all these ONE STAR oddballs avoid cinema in future as I don't wish to breath in your negativity!!! Findings, 1) I'm fine! 2) see it on the biggest screen you can find & 3) still 8/10. Bit corny? Agree. Never ANY village/sunset/picturesque farm house in the entire history of Devon? Don't be so silly! Yes, the unexpected school "Christmas treat" vibe throws a little during the first half hour but as I said, what's wrong with treats?! Chill, you miserable wretches!

scrumpyjack

Another viewing 1) to ensure I wasn't losing it! 2) as first saw it on my nearest's good but not best screen 3) really enjoyed it. Can all these ONE STAR oddballs avoid cinema in future as I don't wish to breath in your negativity!!! Findings, 1) I'm fine! 2) see it on the biggest screen you can find & 3) still 8/10. Bit corny? Agree. Never ANY village/sunset/picturesque farm house in the entire history of Devon? Don't be so silly! Yes, the unexpected school "Christmas treat" vibe throws a little during the first half hour but as I said, what's wrong with treats?! Chill, you miserable wretches!

john o sullivan

i saw this in a full cinema.. didnt hear much clapping.. but it could have been drowned out by the retching

john o sullivan

i saw this in a full cinema.. didnt hear much clapping.. but it could have been drowned out by the retching

Ric

There is no doubt that the battlefield scenes were very impressive and indeed the work with the Horses but that is as far as it goes. The Film screenplay and production were appalling. Patronising, false, pretencious, fatasistical rubbish. Every sky in Devon seemed to be more and more outrageous, ending on one so orange it must have been filmed on Mars. A poor farming family who had nothing except and immaculate, inside and out, farmhouse which looked like it had been built that afternoon. A field with no soil, only stones miraculously turns into the most fertile field in Devon. Despite it being a war just about every soldier we see seemed incredibly polite, helpful and almost happy. I cannot belive that they took the time to haggle over the price of a horse and in fact surprised they even game them any money for them. There is not room to go through all the inaccuracies. The end was so contrived and syrupy and like a pantomime with the evil Butcher of Cambrai and Anthony Worrell Thompson who has the most perfect fruit in Belgium but has walked 3 miles to spend £100 that I doubt he really had by the end of the war. I can't go on it was so over the top, predictable and annoying. Also why if the Horse was enlisted at the beginning of the war 1914 and was taken by the Germans for a matter of weeks, a young Belgian girl for a maximum of a few months, the germans for a mximum of a few weeks do we suddenly see it at the end of the war in 1918. What happened in the intervening three and a half years? If the story was dramtic enough and interesting enough to make a film of it then at least be faithful to it and not turn it into some Disneylike effort. Spielberg obviously feels all the material he deals with is so ordinary he has to tart it all up and, like Tintin, ruin it. As for it being his best work!!! How does Schindler's List possible fall below this rubbish.

Ric

There is no doubt that the battlefield scenes were very impressive and indeed the work with the Horses but that is as far as it goes. The Film screenplay and production were appalling. Patronising, false, pretencious, fatasistical rubbish. Every sky in Devon seemed to be more and more outrageous, ending on one so orange it must have been filmed on Mars. A poor farming family who had nothing except and immaculate, inside and out, farmhouse which looked like it had been built that afternoon. A field with no soil, only stones miraculously turns into the most fertile field in Devon. Despite it being a war just about every soldier we see seemed incredibly polite, helpful and almost happy. I cannot belive that they took the time to haggle over the price of a horse and in fact surprised they even game them any money for them. There is not room to go through all the inaccuracies. The end was so contrived and syrupy and like a pantomime with the evil Butcher of Cambrai and Anthony Worrell Thompson who has the most perfect fruit in Belgium but has walked 3 miles to spend £100 that I doubt he really had by the end of the war. I can't go on it was so over the top, predictable and annoying. Also why if the Horse was enlisted at the beginning of the war 1914 and was taken by the Germans for a matter of weeks, a young Belgian girl for a maximum of a few months, the germans for a mximum of a few weeks do we suddenly see it at the end of the war in 1918. What happened in the intervening three and a half years? If the story was dramtic enough and interesting enough to make a film of it then at least be faithful to it and not turn it into some Disneylike effort. Spielberg obviously feels all the material he deals with is so ordinary he has to tart it all up and, like Tintin, ruin it. As for it being his best work!!! How does Schindler's List possible fall below this rubbish.

Carol

The film's sluggish, lazy in its detail, and frankly not very good. As TO's Tom Huddleston says, it's twee - the only thing the village was missing was a sign that read "Ye Olde Shoppe". I was bored to sobs. This is the stort of story I'd expect to read in a Mills & Boon, or Catherine Cookson. I hope this isn't nominated for Oscars - it's far from Hollywood's finest.

Carol

The film's sluggish, lazy in its detail, and frankly not very good. As TO's Tom Huddleston says, it's twee - the only thing the village was missing was a sign that read "Ye Olde Shoppe". I was bored to sobs. This is the stort of story I'd expect to read in a Mills & Boon, or Catherine Cookson. I hope this isn't nominated for Oscars - it's far from Hollywood's finest.

Mike

Being a Spielberg film, it’s been impossible to avoid the free publicity/editorial surrounding War Horse. I saw a number of reviews before I went, and didn’t feel optimistic about the evening ahead as they’d all been lukewarm. . I thought War Horse was extremely twee, particularly the settings. If you’ve lived in the west country, you’ll know working farmers’ homes look nothing like the immaculate cottage in which the Narracott’s live – there’s a scene where Emily Watson’s at an upstairs bedroom window, which is both immaculately painted, but has brilliant, gleaming 21st century Pilkington glass in it. I started to chuckle. . The storyline and scripting are clumsy and unlikely. Not for a second did it surprise me to read Richard Curtis (“Love Actually�, “The Boat That Rocked�, etc) was one of the scriptwriters. You’d almost think this film was an American’s idea of how Devon might have been before WWI – if you didn’t know it was an American’s idea of a Devon village before the outbreak of WWI. Shots of the village high street shown when the announcement is made that war has broken out, show a flawless early 20th century village, marred only by the odd puddle. I laughed again. Has Spielberg ever lived outside a city? . The lighting is particularly bad, and by that I don’t mean underlit, I mean clumsily lit. The weather in Devon can be very changeable, and often rainy – as the UK’s weather usually comes in from the west. Though the skies were often shown overcast, mysteriously light shone from all sorts of angles on the subject in question – particularly when Joey (the horse) was in focus. . The continuity is less than good – as I’ve said above, the weather can be changeable, but not in the space of a sentence spoken by one person! . Of an audience of around 30 (in a cinema with seating for 300+), 3 people left at around 40 minutes. Absolutely dire. I was bored. A far cry from the quality of Schindler’s List. 3/10 or one star (certainly not worth rounding to two stars).

Mike

Being a Spielberg film, it’s been impossible to avoid the free publicity/editorial surrounding War Horse. I saw a number of reviews before I went, and didn’t feel optimistic about the evening ahead as they’d all been lukewarm. . I thought War Horse was extremely twee, particularly the settings. If you’ve lived in the west country, you’ll know working farmers’ homes look nothing like the immaculate cottage in which the Narracott’s live – there’s a scene where Emily Watson’s at an upstairs bedroom window, which is both immaculately painted, but has brilliant, gleaming 21st century Pilkington glass in it. I started to chuckle. . The storyline and scripting are clumsy and unlikely. Not for a second did it surprise me to read Richard Curtis (“Love Actually�, “The Boat That Rocked�, etc) was one of the scriptwriters. You’d almost think this film was an American’s idea of how Devon might have been before WWI – if you didn’t know it was an American’s idea of a Devon village before the outbreak of WWI. Shots of the village high street shown when the announcement is made that war has broken out, show a flawless early 20th century village, marred only by the odd puddle. I laughed again. Has Spielberg ever lived outside a city? . The lighting is particularly bad, and by that I don’t mean underlit, I mean clumsily lit. The weather in Devon can be very changeable, and often rainy – as the UK’s weather usually comes in from the west. Though the skies were often shown overcast, mysteriously light shone from all sorts of angles on the subject in question – particularly when Joey (the horse) was in focus. . The continuity is less than good – as I’ve said above, the weather can be changeable, but not in the space of a sentence spoken by one person! . Of an audience of around 30 (in a cinema with seating for 300+), 3 people left at around 40 minutes. Absolutely dire. I was bored. A far cry from the quality of Schindler’s List. 3/10 or one star (certainly not worth rounding to two stars).

Josh taylor

I think that some of you must have accidentally pressed the wrong rating or fancy themselves as snobs who are to important to watch an outstanding film which is definately up there with Hp and the Deathly hallows: Part 2 and Avatar. This film is Steven Spielberg's best and people in the cinema clapped even though there was no one there. It has everything you need in a film with much much more. It has action, comedy and tragedy.

Josh taylor

I think that some of you must have accidentally pressed the wrong rating or fancy themselves as snobs who are to important to watch an outstanding film which is definately up there with Hp and the Deathly hallows: Part 2 and Avatar. This film is Steven Spielberg's best and people in the cinema clapped even though there was no one there. It has everything you need in a film with much much more. It has action, comedy and tragedy.

Alex

Lassie meets All Quiet on the Western Front (with apologies to the latter). At one point our hero nudges his lame pal to one side and volunteers to drag a cannon in his place - oh please!

Alex

Lassie meets All Quiet on the Western Front (with apologies to the latter). At one point our hero nudges his lame pal to one side and volunteers to drag a cannon in his place - oh please!

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