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War Horse

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Production Weekly:

Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the Michael Morpurgo novel "War Horse," will be released August 10, 2011.

Here's a New York Times NPR article on the stage adaptation.

Edited by Overstreet

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The link goes to an NPR story, BTW.

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Right.

Meanwhile: Variety.

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Instead of Lincoln? :blink:

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Oh wow - I hadn't heard about this.

For those of you that are in the UK, or are going to visit the UK, I would highly recommend checking out the National Theatre's adaptation of War Horse. It uses puppetry in the most ingenious and moving way I have ever seen. It's currently had it's run extended for another year, though it sells out quite far in advance. Worth getting the mid-price tickets, the restricted tickets really *are* restricted views.

I'm intrigued by the idea of a film version. I doubt Spielberg will use puppetry, which is his prerogative however IMHO that would lose a lot of the emotional power that the stage version has. Honestly - the horse walked onstage and I cried, something inside me just tingled and out came tears. It's a really amazing stage play.

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I'm now getting flashbacks to an article I wrote for Jeff's 'zine back in the '90s about Spielberg and sentimentality. I believe I made a reference in there to All Quiet on the Western Front, which, like War Horse, was also set in World War I.

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Variety - DreamWorks Studios has firmed up its 2011 schedule after a week-long summit with Disney brass, including moving Steven Spielberg's "War Horse" from August 10 to Dec. 28.

Has a director ever been in this much competition with himself? This move for War Horse puts its release only 5 day after the opening of Spielberg's Tin-Tin on Dec. 23, 2011.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

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Wells posted this, which gets right to the sinking feeling I felt when I first saw the trailer:

Perhaps N.Y. Times critic Ben Brantley's description of the play provides a hint or two.

"I once attended a midnight show of Steven Spielberg's Jaws, where the audience was heartily enjoying the carnage wrought by a man-eating shark until a pooch was seen swimming in the ocean, and someone seated near me, expressing the feelings of multitudes, called out, 'Oh, God, not the dog!'

"War Horse taps that same keg of emotion. It's 'Oh, God, not the horse,' elicited to bring home the savagery of war.

"The play also speaks, cannily and brazenly, to that inner part of adults that cherishes childhood memories of a pet as one's first -- and possibly greatest -- love. This is a show for people who revisit films like National Velvet and Old Yeller when they need a good cry.

"In truth, the script of War Horse makes that of National Velvet (I mean, the heavenly 1944 movie, starring the 12-year-old Elizabeth Taylor) seem like a marvel of delicacy."

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Well, at least it's because Spielberg makes "not the dog!" movies that he gets to be the one-and-only filmmaker who DOES kill the dog once in a while.

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Well, at least it's because Spielberg makes "not the dog!" movies that he gets to be the one-and-only filmmaker who DOES kill the dog once in a while.

Or the loveable alien. (Of course, the alien can rise from the dead.)

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"The play also speaks, cannily and brazenly, to that inner part of adults that cherishes childhood memories of a pet as one's first -- and possibly greatest -- love. This is a show for people who revisit films like National Velvet and Old Yeller when they need a good cry.

"In truth, the script of War Horse makes that of National Velvet (I mean, the heavenly 1944 movie, starring the 12-year-old Elizabeth Taylor) seem like a marvel of delicacy."

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Huh. I wonder if this could actually be any good. The American Black Lager sure sounds worth a try.

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I don't know if there's an embargo on this one. So this isn't a review. It's a few thoughts on the source material.

Seeing the film, I was startled to think back on some of the early nay-saying reactions. There's already a resistance to the film for what is perceived as typical Spielberg sentimentality.

But the film all but says "Once upon a time" at the beginning. And considering that its source material is a book for children, along the lines of The Black Stallion -- and, of course, the play based on Morpurgo's novel -- it is entirely appropriate for Spielberg to approach this story as a simple one... about a horse. The boy and his parents are drawn simply because this is that kind of old-fashioned story. Heck, in the novel, the horse understands human languages.

And these simple sketches of human characters make sense for another reason: they are not the subject of the film. The subject is the horse, and they are only one example of humankind that the horse must deal with. As in Kate DiCamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, each episode brings us to a different group of people, and each episode reveals a little more about humankind. (Heck, for that matter, Au hasard Balthazar isn't a bad comparison either... although that is a story for adults, dealing with far more adult subject matter, and doing so in far more sophisticated ways.) Here, each chapter serves to reveal a little more about humanity, a little more about struggle and war and how people deal with hardship, and a little more about what happens to a horse... or, more broadly, creation... in human hands.

So, I haven't written my review yet. And I'm still trying to figure out what I think of it all. But I wish I could send out an all-points bulletin, reminding reviewers of the source material: a novel for children.

Ah well, I can feel the impact tremors already. The haters gonna hate. I have problems with a lot of Spielberg films and it really annoys me when he goes all sentimental and asks us to feel things that the films haven't earned. (The closing scene of War of the Worlds, for example.) But I hope people will pause and think carefully before they level the same accusations at this one. You might as well hurl the same accusations at Scorsese for Hugo. Interesting that we have two "masters" turning in films for all ages this year, films based on books that evoke powerful emotions... emotions that I would argue are, for the most part, earned.

The film's most intense scenario will quickly remind many of us of another movie -- or two, actually -- that have a very similar climactic event. Those films impressed critics all over the place. I hope reviewers think about that before their reflexes kick in.

Edited by Overstreet

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Overstreet wrote:

: I wish I could send out an all-points bulletin, reminding reviewers of the source material: a novel for children.

Heh. When I saw the film last week, the publicist mentioned that they were pushing pretty hard to promote this film to "family audiences". I wonder which of Spielberg's films this year will be the more family-oriented -- this one, or the one based on the comic book. :)

Certainly this film isn't going for the "gritty realism" that Spielberg's other war movies have gone for. The violence here is no more explicit than the violence in, say, Lawrence of Arabia (to cite another World War I movie with an impressive sequence in which a bunch of horses charge an encampment of some sort...), and arguably even less so.

Actually, my first question as the credits rolled was to wonder who the cinematographer was. And I am shocked to learn that this film, like every other film that Spielberg has directed since Schindler's List, was photographed by Janusz Kaminski. In the past, Kaminski has talked about how he was always pushing Spielberg to go darker, grittier, more "realistic", etc., but THIS film is... well, in places, it's the most brightly-lit outdoors-set fable-like quasi-Technicolor extravaganza I've seen outside of an Aki Kaurismaki film.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Incidentally, once you actually see the film, you realize that the spoken bit in the trailer (the one released in June) doesn't actually refer to horses at all -- not directly, at any rate. The character in this scene is actually talking about pigeons!

The actor who delivers those lines, BTW, has one rather subtly phenomenal moment in one of his very last scenes. I don't know if anyone else will "catch" it or react to it the way I did, but it's a keeper, in my books.

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Incidentally, once you actually see the film, you realize that the spoken bit in the trailer (the one released in June) doesn't actually refer to horses at all -- not directly, at any rate. The character in this scene is actually talking about pigeons!

When he started talking about pigeons, it made me laugh, because I realized that he was headed toward those lines. Yeah, that was quite a surprise, because we had previously seen those lines juxtaposed with the shot of the horse leaping over soldiers.

(And there is a shot involving soldiers and a leaping horse that is among the most astonishing big-screen moments I've ever seen. When it happened, I felt like I'd had the wind knocked out of me.)

The actor who delivers those lines, BTW, has one rather subtly phenomenal moment in one of his very last scenes. I don't know if anyone else will "catch" it or react to it the way I did, but it's a keeper, in my books.

He is so good. I wish The Prophet had been a movie I could like, because he is so incredible in it.

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The actor who delivers those lines, BTW, has one rather subtly phenomenal moment in one of his very last scenes. I don't know if anyone else will "catch" it or react to it the way I did, but it's a keeper, in my books.

He is so good. I wish The Prophet had been a movie I could like, because he is so incredible in it.

Even without being sure of which "moment" you're referring to, I think I agree with this assessment of his performance. But I hope you're not assuming that those who aren't bowled over by the film simply misunderstood who the film might be aimed at.

Forget whether this is a family film, or if it's aimed at both kids and adults. There are only two types of movies: good ones and bad ones. I'm guessing my assessment of War Horse puts it on the opposite side of those who have already posted here, but I don't think it's because I misunderstood who the film was made for or aimed at.

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Forget whether this is a family film, or if it's aimed at both kids and adults. There are only two types of movies: good ones and bad ones. I'm guessing my assessment of War Horse puts it on the opposite side of those who have already posted here, but I don't think it's because I misunderstood who the film was made for or aimed at.

A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse of course, (that is, of course, unless the horse is Mr. Ed)!

I haven't seen War Horse (of course!) but my suspicion is that it doesn't fall afoul of any of the objective measures of what makes a good movie. I'll definitely be seeing it (perhaps not in the theater, we'll see), so maybe we can tease out some of the unspoken assumptions here...

Edited by David Smedberg

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Forget whether this is a family film, or if it's aimed at both kids and adults. There are only two types of movies: good ones and bad ones. I'm guessing my assessment of War Horse puts it on the opposite side of those who have already posted here, but I don't think it's because I misunderstood who the film was made for or aimed at.

A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse of course, (that is, of course, unless the horse is Mr. Ed)!

I haven't seen War Horse (of course!) but my suspicion is that it doesn't fall afoul of any of the objective measures of what makes a good movie. I'll definitely be seeing it (perhaps not in the theater, we'll see), so perhaps we can tease out some of the unspoken assumptions here...

I hope you realize that your post about Mr. Ed was your 999'th post, which is of course 666 upside down, which surely supports the idea that the talking horse in the T.V. show was magic, and therefore Mr. Ed is evil (of course, of course) ::devil::

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Forget whether this is a family film, or if it's aimed at both kids and adults. There are only two types of movies: good ones and bad ones. I'm guessing my assessment of War Horse puts it on the opposite side of those who have already posted here, but I don't think it's because I misunderstood who the film was made for or aimed at.

A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse of course, (that is, of course, unless the horse is Mr. Ed)!

I haven't seen War Horse (of course!) but my suspicion is that it doesn't fall afoul of any of the objective measures of what makes a good movie. I'll definitely be seeing it (perhaps not in the theater, we'll see), so perhaps we can tease out some of the unspoken assumptions here...

I hope you realize that your post about Mr. Ed was your 999'th post, which is of course 666 upside down, which surely supports the idea that the talking horse in the T.V. show was magic, and therefore Mr. Ed is evil (of course, of course) ::devil::

It's all part of David's 9-9-9 plan.

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Forget whether this is a family film, or if it's aimed at both kids and adults. There are only two types of movies: good ones and bad ones. I'm guessing my assessment of War Horse puts it on the opposite side of those who have already posted here, but I don't think it's because I misunderstood who the film was made for or aimed at.

A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse of course, (that is, of course, unless the horse is Mr. Ed)!

I haven't seen War Horse (of course!) but my suspicion is that it doesn't fall afoul of any of the objective measures of what makes a good movie. I'll definitely be seeing it (perhaps not in the theater, we'll see), so perhaps we can tease out some of the unspoken assumptions here...

I hope you realize that your post about Mr. Ed was your 999'th post, which is of course 666 upside down, which surely supports the idea that the talking horse in the T.V. show was magic, and therefore Mr. Ed is evil (of course, of course) ::devil::

It's all part of David's 9-9-9 plan.

Thought as much.

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Ann Thompson:

I was at my Sneak Previews screening of "War Horse," with DreamWorks co-president of production Holly Bario on hand. The movie played well for the group (not a dry eye in the house) and as bleached as I am, I did not flag during a second viewing, and wept again, especially during an horrific sequence when

Joey the miracle horse hauls artillery up a steep hill

. This movie will be a huge hit and if the critics are behind it, could beat out "The Artist" for best picture.

It's not really much of a spoiler that I've marked, but in respect for those who don't want to know anything, well, there you go.

The rest of her article contains what I would consider major spoilage. So, you have been warned.

Edited by Overstreet

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