War Horse: An Epic Accomplishment
Tuesday 30 April 2013
War Horse remains one of the most popular shows in London's West End. We examine why...
War Horse writer Michael Morpugo described writing the novel at a recent literary festival, during the discussion, a 75 year old German stood up dramatically and adamantly said the play was best thing he had ever seen on a stage. One would think the elderly gentleman was getting carried away with himself but those who see the show would understand the sentiment.
Even Hollywood supremo Steven Spielberg was struck by the beauty of the performance and with the help of screenwriters Lee Hall (Billy Elliot) and Richard Curtis (Love Actually), fashioned the novel into a cinematic masterpiece that deserves to stand alongside Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan and ET as Spielberg’s finest work. The tear jerking film provokes the senses and by the end, makes you feel grateful to be alive; it’s a rare film indeed that turns children’s literature into a piece with sincere emotional depth. You could dismiss it as a ‘boy and his horse’ saga, but that would be to underestimate its power, passion and complexity. This being said, viewers who have seen the theatre performance first would feel a certain sense of absence within the film. The magic that the big screen is unable to replicate lies with the astonishing life-size puppets and their talented army of puppeteers who remain masterfully choreographed throughout by Toby Sedgwick.
The spellbinding puppeteers turn tale of young Albert from Devon who signed up to throw himself into the harrowing ordeals of World War I in order to track down his beloved horse Joey. One begins to forget they are puppets at all and in an astonishing climax an Allied battle tank spills onto the stage with gasps and shrieks from the delighted audience.
The music ties the performance together nicely and provides a pretty context to the English roots of the film. After viewing War Horse you will come away with two thoughts. Yes, the play’s staging and choreography is incredible, yet the endless appeal lies with a basic ingredient. There is nothing more emotionally nourishing than the simple bond between man and animal. War Horse - don't miss it!
War Horse Reviews
"Nick Stafford's powerful adaptation of Morpurgo's novel brilliantly captures not only the mysterious and intense relationship that can exist between humans and animals, but also the dreadful waste and terror of the Great War." - The Telegraph
"There is no denying the visual bravura of the puppet-driven production by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris." - The Guardian
"A powerful tale about whether a friendship can override and survive conflict, movingly and realistically brought to life." - The Times
is showing at London's New London Theatre
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