Tuesday, January 3, 2012

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

This book was written in 1982, and twenty-five years later found its way to the London stage.  It was an astonishing piece of theater, featuring some unique life size stage horses.

After Kathleen Kennedy saw the London play, she told Steven Spielberg, who bought the rights to the book, and directed the film that was released on Christmas day.

Spielberg's film adaptation was beautifully done.  The cinematography is incredible and the film is full of shots that look like they came right out of a fine painting.  Spielberg's visuals and the musical score by John Williams was the perfect pairing.  Not surprisingly, it is an emotional, sentimental, and heart warming movie.  The acting is superb (especially by the young man who plays Albert, Jeremy Irvine).  The brutality and universal suffering of war is clearly shown, and the film is a tribute to honest emotionally direct storytelling.

Michael Morpurgo is an award winning children's author, poet, and playwright, who has written over 100 books.  Through the eyes of the war horse, Joey, Morpurgo tells a moving and powerful story.  Joey tells his story from the beginning of his life on the farm with Albert through his involvement in the First World War.  Surrounded by violence and loss, he just tries to survive.  A red bay horse actually existed back in 1914 and was painted by a Captain James Nicholls in autumn of that same year.  That's where the inspiration for this book came from.  In World War I, over six million horses died.  The human death toll was estimated at fifteen million.

Read the book, then see the film, and if you get a chance--experience the stage play. 

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