December 28, 2011: Steven Spielberg’s War Horse Was Released

On December 28, 2011 the world was given a glimpse into the life of military horses with the release of Steven Spielberg’s War Horse. This dramatic DreamWorks film brought to life the 1982 children’s novel War Horse written by Michael Morpurgo.

Morpurgo wrote War Horse after speaking with World War I veterans about their attachment to their cavalry horses. The veterans spoke of the horrors that they had seen in war, and the roles that the horses had played whether as cavalry mounts, ambulance horses, or to pull artillery. Morpurgo sought to share these stories through his novel, and had Joey the war horse himself narrate the book. Though Morpurgo attempted to adapt the book to a screenplay, he was unsuccessful.

In 2007, Nick Stafford adapted the book to a stage play. Whereas the novel was told through the horse’s point of view, the stage version had to be modified. The use of a sung narration served to replace the horse’s first-person narration, and life-size puppet horses were designed to bring horses to life onstage. The stage play became a huge Broadway hit, partly because of the incredible puppetry work, and partly because of the amazing story.

War Horse tells the tale of the bond between a horse named Joey and a boy named Albert. Albert trains Joey during pre-war times, but when World War I breaks out, Joey and Albert are separated. Joey’s journey through the war is chronicled, and the friends he meets and the experiences he endures are enough to open anyone’s eyes to the horrors that war horses faced.

Richard Curtis, Lee Hall, and Revel Guest worked collaboratively on a film version of the stage play. Financial restrictions prevented the film version from initially being produced, but when film producer Kathleen Kennedy saw the stage version of War Horse and told Steven Spielberg about the amazing story, the film began to progress. In 2009 DreamWorks purchased the film rights, with Spielberg slated to direct the movie.

War Horse was filmed in locations throughout England, including Devon, Wiltshire, and Hampshire. Multiple horse trainers worked on the film, and fourteen different horses acted as Joey, the main horse. While the play used puppet horses, the horses in the movie War Horse were all either real or digitally altered.

War Horse was released on December 25, 2011. You can view the official trailer for War Horse on the DreamWorks website.

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Original Source: December 28, 2011: Steven Spielberg’s War Horse Was Released

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