Grand. Sweeping. Epic. These are all words used to probably describe something a little more old fashioned than what we’re used to these days. Even more so when it comes to Steven Spielberg lately, who actually hasn’t even released a film in four years. While his last feature may have been rather polarizing (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), he’s taken a lot of heat over the last few years and has laid claim to a new Hollywood catch phrase called “nuking the fridge.”
Back in the old days of the true Hollywood epics (Gone with the Wind, Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, etc.) these adjectives were heard on a regular basis. Today they’re nearly unheard of. Sometimes something may seem epic when really it’s just getting confused with being way too long. Leave it to Spielberg to harken back to both the glory days of old fashioned cinema, along with his own unique vision. While he may seem more caught up in the sci-fi of technology as of late (War of the Worlds, Minority Report, A. I.) “The Beard” is back with his big screen adaptation of the Tony Award winning stage play of War Horse.
Originally a children’s novel written by Michael Morpurgo, it was adapted as a stage play by Nick Stafford. Performed with puppets, which only brings to mind The Lion King, I’m sure it’s a rather magnificently interesting presentation. I think the best way to see the material truly brought to life would be through the film where you can get up close and personal with Joey. Joey is of course the title horse who is born in 1914.
As a thoroughbred, Joey is drunkenly bought at auction by Ted Narracott (Peter Mullan) against everyone else’s good graces for his farm. We are told thoroughbreds do not make for good use on a farm. Joey also, before, was being eyed by Ted’s son, Albert (Jeremy Irvine), out in the wild. Now that Ted has spent all of his rent money on Joey, his landlord Lyons (David Thewlis) gives Ted until the autumn to come up with the rest. Albert assures Lyons that he can break Joey and they will plow their field to harvest turnips. After the whole town shows up to see if Albert can really break Joey, it takes a fluke rainstorm to show everyone what Joey can do.