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War Horse - the movie


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#26 Siege Gunner

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 05:58 AM

The acting was loud and plocaimatry ...

Proclamatory?

#27 Ken Santa Fe

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 06:17 AM

I saw the play in London this past summer and the portrayal of the horses struck me as one of the more impressive achievements of stagecraft I've ever experienced. At times the entire audience gasping in amazement. To the degree that the play is meant to convey history it fails. As an entertainment meant to expand what is possible on a stage it surpasses all expectations. For whatever inaccuracies it kept we should honor the creators of the tank that makes it's appearance near the end. A 1917 life size and correctly shaped tank on the New London stage, brilliant.

I can't see how the movie will advance the craft of movie making and expect the poster who mentioned "pure, exquisitely executed, schmaltz" is spot on. The trailers, over on this side, make it look like a myth of cavalry charges will be perpetrated but the poster who mentioned that exposing the Great War to a new and young audience is valuable has got to be right.

We people who delve so deeply into a topic that we peruse a forum and post comments have so much more foreknowledge of the topic that it's simply not possible for visual displays of the topic to do much more then divert us for a bit or at best give us a thought for further research. How could any two hour movie of TV show replace the hundreds of hours we've all put into reading the increasingly esoteric material we clearly have all found ourselves immersed in? If a long movie making an effort to be accurate was the same as a good movie we'd all be honoring the 1990 Gettysburg, which at four plus hours made a painstaking effort but can't be called a 'good' movie.

One thought I took away from the story is that the return of the boy and the horse to England isn't meant to be literal. Rather both limping home represents the victory almost indistinguishable from defeat that was actually gained.

#28 Steven Broomfield

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 08:52 AM

One thought I took away from the story is that the return of the boy and the horse to England isn't meant to be literal.

Spoiler alert!

Now there's no point in going to see it: I thought it was going to be the butler. :(

#29 Rayessex

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 10:38 AM

Rather both limping home represents the victory almost indistinguishable from defeat that was actually gained.


Oh! Anyone want a ticket for Warhorse?

Ray

#30 George Armstrong Custer

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 11:41 AM

Rather both limping home represents the victory almost indistinguishable from defeat that was actually gained.


As you are well aware from discussion elsewhere on the forum, Ken, that is precisely the line peddled by 'Easterner' Churchill in his The World Crisis, in his attempt to take away from the 'Westerner' victory whilst pretending that his failed 'Easterner' ideas could have prevailed. Very many frontline veterans, such as Charles Carrington and Sidney Rogerson, would have begged to differ from this view that their hard-won victory was indistiguishable from defeat. In any case, such sutle metaphor coming down on one side or the other of the 'Easterner/Westerner' debate seems unlikely in a movie which you agree is likely to be pure schmaltz and little more than a visual diversion for those who know anything about the Great War. As Spielberg himself says in the quoted interview - "With War Horse I wasn't looking to make a movie about the First World War, or about horses." There you have it from the horse's mouth, so to speak. QED.

George

#31 Chris_Baker

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 12:21 PM

Much to my surprise I rather liked Tintin. Not sure I can be bothered to go and see WH though.

#32 Steven Broomfield

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 01:13 PM

As Spielberg himself says in the quoted interview - "With War Horse I wasn't looking to make a movie about the First World War, or about horses."
George

Makes you wonder why he did make it, then.

#33 Steven Broomfield

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 01:16 PM

Much to my surprise I rather liked Tintin.


I've not seen the film, and I'm by no means a Tintinologist, but the reviews were interesting, and informative of Mr Spielberg's work: the consensus seemed to be that it was a "good film", as "good films" go, but rather empty of spirit, and nowhere near as endearing, charming or fun as the original books.

Maybe therein lies the problem: he make "good films" rather than remaining within the spirit of what he's making, if that makes sense.

#34 George Armstrong Custer

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 01:40 PM

Makes you wonder why he did make it, then.


Indeed, though he seems to offer an explanation in the second half of the quoted paragraph: "It's just that when I went to see the play I was overcome with emotion....." In other words, for Spielberg the central story concerning a horse, and its time and place setting in the Great War are merely platforms or a vehicle for an exercise in the emotional manipulation of an audience willing to pay the ticket price to have their emotions so manipulated. And why not, as I've said. As Tom pointed out earlier, the basic premiss has been done dozens of times in Lassie movies, so looking for a realistic recreation of an historical setting for this version is pretty much going to end in disappointment.

George

#35 David Filsell

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 02:10 PM

SG - thanks for the correction the speed of the mind frequently exeeds its spelling ability.

#36 Ken Wayman

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 02:56 PM

Might I recommend that we go to the 'Horse's Mouth' as it were - Michael Morpurgo's original book. I'm not ashamed to admit that I've read it (as well as 'Private Peaceful') and, what's more, enjoyed it. If I had wanted to read pure, accurate equino-military (!!!) history I would have selected differently. I didn't; I wanted to be entertained.

Also, from a (former) history teacher's perspective, how can we help youngsters differentiate between fact, fiction and a mixture of the two, unless we read the books that the youngsters might read?

My opinion, for what it's worth (or more probably not!!), is that if Mr. Morpurgo attracts just one youngster to the Great War and its understanding and remembrance, then he will have done a good job. Our generation won't be around for ever; our places at the Menin Gate need reinforcements from the younger ranks. Just occurred to me (realisation is growing ever slower!) that this might be referred to as appreciating the bigger picture (though nowt to do with Mr. Spielberg).

Apologies for the ramblings!

Ken

#37 Steven Broomfield

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 04:40 PM

Ken - thanks for that.

I have not read the book; I think I might now.

I would, however, wonder what the motives governing Mr Morpuro's creation were, compared to those of Mr Spielberg. Or maybe I'm just an old cynic.

#38 Ken Wayman

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 05:11 PM

Hi Steve

I'm an old cynic too, often given to rants arising from inaccuracies in 'historical' dramas. I must be having a 'mellow' day today...!

I might venture to suggest that Mr. Morpurgo's motives were most likely to provide youngsters with a darned good read.

Just like I used to enjoy 'Biggles'.

Here openeth another can of worms......

Cheers

Ken

#39 Ken Santa Fe

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 05:28 PM

such subtle metaphor coming down on one side or the other of the 'Easterner/Westerner' debate seems unlikely in a movie which you agree is likely to be pure schmaltz and little more than a visual diversion for those who know anything about the Great War. As Spielberg himself says in the quoted interview - "With War Horse I wasn't looking to make a movie about the First World War, or about horses." George


The movie is about 'something.' Emotional manipulation seems as good as anything. I cannot accept I've issued a spoiler, it's a HOLLYWOOD movie from a Children's Book it's going to end on an up note. The good stuff happens before the limp. I appreciate George keeping me ideologically pure, an examination of pure schmaltz is not the place to look for deeper meaning.

#40 keithfazzani

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 05:36 PM

Ken I agree wholeheartedly, the story is a good yarn and anything, well almost anything, that gets children to read is a good thing. Biggles too is a good thing, but, and here we differ slightly, many today go further and insinuate that children will learn history from seeing a film, they rarely if ever will, they are not substitutes. But then some people are of the impression that they can learn history watching Shakespeare.

#41 Grantowi

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 06:21 PM

, many today go further and insinuate that children will learn history from seeing a film, they rarely if ever will, they are not substitutes. .


So true, especially a Hollywood film.

But it might stir an intrest in children - when they see the conditions and the "life style" that their Great (maybe Great) Grantfathers were going through - and lead them to places such as this forum.

Grant

#42 geraint

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 08:16 PM

it's a film folks. Film = entertainment. Not a history lesson; not an academic study; its an audiovisual piece of ephemeral mind candy.



#43 Steven Broomfield

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 08:54 AM

I appreciate that, geraint, but the puff preceding it is what annoys me. It is being touted as pretty well one of the Best Films Ever Made, and, as commented on here, quite likely taken by many as "History" too.

I dislike the emotional blackmail of Spielberg's films: I'd rather make my own mind up whether to laugh or cry, thanks; and I worry that the "History" school will prevail.

Personally, I also dislike being assaulted by the musical battering ram that is John Williams' music, but I guess that's another moan ...

#44 salesie

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 10:44 AM

I appreciate that, geraint, but the puff preceding it is what annoys me. It is being touted as pretty well one of the Best Films Ever Made, and, as commented on here, quite likely taken by many as "History" too.

I dislike the emotional blackmail of Spielberg's films: I'd rather make my own mind up whether to laugh or cry, thanks; and I worry that the "History" school will prevail.

Personally, I also dislike being assaulted by the musical battering ram that is John Williams' music, but I guess that's another moan ...

Bloody hell, Steven, you aren't half making a song and dance about this film - what's that old expression, empty barrels make the most noise? You haven't seen the film yet, and by your own admission you haven't seen the stage-play nor read the book - if that's not empty-barrelism then I don't know what is.

Wait until the film comes out, watch it, then criticise or praise as your newly informed view then warrants - all you seem to be complaining about at the moment is that many people don't share your view about Spielberg movies, that you see yourself as belonging to a minority who are the only ones enlightened enough to pass judgement (even before the main event), the only ones capable of seeing through a smokescreen of emotional blackmail. That's not just empty barrelism, I'm afraid, it's also laced with heaps of cultural snobbery - not a pretty sight.


Cheers-salesie.

#45 Steven Broomfield

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 12:20 PM

Well, that's me firmly put in my place. That Churchill thread must have upset you.

#46 truthergw

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 12:32 PM

it's a film folks. Film = entertainment. Not a history lesson; not an academic study; its an audiovisual piece of ephemeral mind candy.



Quite right, Geraint and it would be great if it remained just a film. Unfortunately, there are ominous precedents. Blackadder Goes Forth was simply the last in a series of TV comedies and we know how that was transmogrified into living history.

#47 George Armstrong Custer

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 12:34 PM

There was a Churchill thread? Must have missed that - I'm sure I'd have remembered if I'd seen it.

George

#48 salesie

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 01:58 PM

Well, that's me firmly put in my place. That Churchill thread must have upset you.

I fail to see what the Churchill thread has to do with it, Steven, apart from diverting attention away from your stance here - a stance based on a film not released yet, a stage-play you've missed and a book you've never read.

Believe it or not, some people actually enjoy being manipulated emotionally and are quite capable of realising that they have been, nor do they allow such manipulation to overwhelm them. Some people actually understand that emotions are more a part of life than so-called stiff-upperlipism is, understand that stiff-upperlipism is mainly a product of those old Noel Cowardesque British films of the 30s, 40s and 50's, films which bore no resemblance at all to the way of life of the vast majority of Britons. They understand that the only ones with no empathy at all, either today or historically, are the sociopaths of this world who tend to end up in places such as Broadmoor and Rampton (or were known as Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot etc.)

Believe it or not, some people take pleasure in having their emotions "played" with in novels, TV programmes, films etc. and yet they still understand that it's neither a permanent nor a negative state - not least because it helps them much better understand the human condition; a condition that is far from being devoid of emotion. To decry emotion is to deny reality, it is to fail to understand that stiff-upperlipism is merely a disguise to cover-up the emotion that is present in all humans it is to fail to understand that human emotion drives everything in our human world, and that many so-called historical facts only came about because of some form of human emotion in the first place.

Indeed, I find it quite ironic that those who strongly criticise Haig do so, in part, on the grounds that he was lacking in all and any emotion towards the plight of his men - whereas, his supporters (including me) produce documentary evidence to show that emotion was in fact present in his psyche despite the fact that many of those supporters tend to decry emotional involvement in the written and visual arts.

The film may well be absolute tosh when it hits our screens, but it could also be the best film ever - let's wait and see, eh?


Cheers-salesie.

#49 SteveMarsdin

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 05:02 PM

Perhaps Spielberg should film a biography of Haig ? :thumbsup:

#50 geraint

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 05:16 PM

Perhaps Spielberg should film a biography of Haig ? :thumbsup:



But that would just be Braveheart in a brody... :ph34r: