December 17, 2011

War Horse

Steven Spielberg's film version of War Horse is coming out on Christmas Day. Every time I see the trailer, I recall the magical and unique theater-going experience that we had. (See Pinky's review here.) And although working with live animals for the screen has traditionally been a challenge for filmmakers, mounting this play seems even more daunting.
I am still amazed at the genius and artistry of the Handspring Puppet Company in bringing Joey and the other horses to life. It seemed like there were real animals on stage. Your eyes will be drawn to every breath, every twitch, every flick of the tail or the mane, every gallop.
But even more moving is the story, the friendship between man and horse. For such majestic and noble animals to allow humans to ride on their backs requires a special bond and an incredible level of trust. It's a shame and a waste of their equine lives to lead them into battle.
When the play ends, one is left with anger at the futility of war---World War I in particular---and the foolishness of men who wage them. But it was also a humble tribute to the sacrifices of soldiers and the horses. The show (and I'm sure the movie adaptation also) will bring you to tears.

The beautiful line drawings that were projected on a screen that showed the horrors of war.


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