The highly anticipated movie from Steven Spielberg held its world premiere at the Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City on Dec. 5, 2011. How apropos the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of the play War Horse is currently running at the nearby Vivian Beaumont Theatre.
Reviewers have called it “Spielberg’s finest hour” and Time Magazine named it one of the top 10 best movies of 2011, calling it “boldly emotional, nakedly heartfelt, War Horse will leave only the stoniest of hearts untouched!”
Produced by Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, the $70 million dollar pic has an austere production team with a wonderfully written screenplay by Richard Curtis and Lee Hall, based on the acclaimed book War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. Adding to the movie is the beautiful cinematography from Janusz Kaminski, as well as an exquisitely beautiful musical score from John Williams, the “King of the Baton.”
Michael Morpurgo wrote his children’s novel War Horse in 1982 after striking up a friendship with neighboring World War I veterans in the Devon Village of Iddesleigh where he lived. The men remembered the Army coming to their village to purchase horses for the war effort. Horses were used as draught animals, pulling guns and ambulances, as well as cavalry services. After months of research, Morpurgo found that at least a million horses died on the British side as well as an overall estimate of 10 million horse deaths on all sides. The Great War had a devastatingly massive impact on not only the horses, but the many men who fought so bravely. In the United Kingdom alone, 62,000 horses returned and only 2% of the entire country’s population returned; 886,000 men died, one in only eight of those men who went to war.
Morpurgo was inspired to write his novel after observing a young boy talk fluently to a horse at a farm run by Mornago’s charity farms for city children. In watching this relationship between a young stammering boy and a horse, he found a way to tell the story — the horse and its relationships with people before and during the war, being the young boy from Devon, a British cavalry officer, a German soldier, and an elderly Frenchman and his granddaughter.
The most exciting part of the movie is that unlike the play where the horses are beautiful puppets and add greatly to the stage show, we get to see hundreds of beautiful real horses in the film.
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