News / Arts & Entertainment

'War Horse' is Not a War Movie, Spielberg Says

Albert (Jeremy Irvine) and his horse Joey are pictured in this scene from DreamWorks Pictures
Albert (Jeremy Irvine) and his horse Joey are pictured in this scene from DreamWorks Pictures "War Horse"

Multimedia

Audio
  • Steven Spielbert talks to Alan Silverman about "War Horse"

Alan Silverman

A stirring new drama directed by Steven Spielberg is winning critical praise, including Best Picture nominations for the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards. It is based on an award-winning play about a British cavalry horse in World War I. Here's a look at the film version of War Horse.



The story opens in 1912 on the rugged farmland of Southern England. A farmer brings home a colt from the local horse auction and a lifelong relationship begins between the spirited animal and the farmer's shy teenager, Albert.

ALBERT "I'll train him."
MOTHER "You stay out of this, Albert. You don't know about horses."
ALBERT "Please, mom. Please let me. I can do it."
MOTHER "Well, you've got one month to break him in or I'm taking him back myself."




The horse that Albert names "Joey" grows into a strong and smart steed - exactly the kind of animal the British Cavalry needs two years later when World War I breaks out in Europe.

Joey goes off to war and Albert quickly follows, determined to find and bring home the horse he loves so dearly.

Albert (Joey Irvine) and his horse Joey are featured in this scene from
Albert (Jeremy Irvine) and his horse Joey are featured in this scene from "War Horse" (Photo: DreamWorks Pictures)

War Horse began as a historical novel for young readers that was adapted as a stage play in London with Joey and the other horses in the story portrayed by life-sized puppets created by South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company. After seeing a performance of the play, Steven Spielberg decided to make a film version.

"So many people came out of the play talking about the brilliant puppetry of the horses; but I came out of the play affected - not because they were puppets playing horses and great puppeteers creating a reality with those - I came out of the play very, very struck emotionally by the storytelling of the people who adapted Michael Morpurgo's book into a play," Spielberg says.

The book is told through the thoughts of Joey as the horse endures years on the front lines. In the play, it is Albert and the other people telling the story and Spielberg felt that the film had to take that approach, especially because it features real horses.

"Because the second Joey starts to speak it becomes much more of a real fable and I think you suspend your disbelief so radically when the horse starts to think out loud that there are no touchstones with your own life or anything you can relate to," explains Spielberg. "So the first decision was not to let Joey think or speak, but just let Joey emote and exist inside the sequences with these human characters."

Director Steven Spielberg chats with actor Jeremy Irvine between takes of
Director Steven Spielberg chats with actor Jeremy Irvine between takes of "War Horse" (Photo: DreamWorks Pictures)

Although brutal battles are part of the story, Spielberg says War Horse is not a war movie.

"I consider it to be a character story," Spielberg insists. "I consider it to be a love story between a horse and young man and also a story of great hope and great connection that this horse makes to every character, both German and British, as the horse travels on an episodic journey …on almost an odyssey through his own experiences surviving the war. The war is a backdrop that allows us to create drama, but World War I isn't the reason I made this movie."

ALBERT "What is it?"
SERGEANT "It's a horse they found wandering about in 'No Man's Land.'"
ALBERT "What kind of a horse?"
SERGEANT "A miraculous kind of a horse would be my guess."


Joey represents some eight million horses that fought and died in World War I as the once mighty cavalry was decimated by new battlefield weapons like machine guns and barbed wire. War Horse stars newcomer Jeremy Irvine as Albert. The behind-the-scenes team includes frequent Spielberg collaborators like Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski and composer John Williams.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”