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 "War Horse"
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"

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Saxophonist Craig Handy has an exciting new band called 2nd Line Smith, which combines the organ-jazz repertoire of Jimmy Smith with the “second line” rhythms of New Orleans parade music. Craig Handy joins "Beyond Category" host Eric Felten at Washington’s Bohemian Caverns jazz club to talk about the music and perform with the band.