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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

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.”