Powered by Blogger.

Oh, It's A Lovely War

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Funny story. World War I has pretty much dominated my life these past two months. The show I was directing was all about the Great War, so all that stuff, Somme, General Haig, mustard gas, etc. and so forth.

And while it was more an act of providence than any sort of forward thinking on my part, I saw the stage production of War Horse in New York city while I was there for Thanksgiving. And I loved it! I thought it was an absolutely incredible piece of theatre, full of gorgeous imagery and beautiful emotion.  It's one of, if not the, best things I've even seen in a theatre. So, I was a little apprehensive about the movie. I mean, how could it possibly live up to the theatre experience?

Short answer: It doesn't.

Long Answer:

Are We Downhearted?

Now, let me be clear. Steven Spielberg's War Horse is a good movie, at times, a great one. The story of Joey and Albert is a pretty timeless tale; you'd have to be corpse to not tear up at the story of a boy who braves The Great War to reunite with his horse. It's a very emotional story, and it rings a handbell choir on stage. On film... eh. There are some great moments, but there are nowhere near as consistent as they were in the play. With the show, it took until intermission before I was completely floored, mouth agape, palms sweaty. With the film, it took a lot longer.

Also, the film's version of Albert is something of a one note character. In the play he was given a hefty chunk of the spotlight, and was really fleshed out. The play is about Albert as much as it is Joey. The film is only about Joey. That's not necessarily a problem, as Joey is the most interesting character in the whole thing, but the film is told chiefly from his perspective. Therefore, we miss out on a lot Albert's experiences, and what experiences we do see are significantly condensed. 

That's not to say that there aren't incredible moments in the film. One of the things that this medium provides that the stage doesn't is, well, scope. There are some wonderfully epic shots that really show off the scale of the war, as the camera pans across vast stretches of bombed out landscape. You really feel the horrors of WWI, and all at a PG-13, family friendly tone.


They Were Only Playing Leapfrog

It's clear, right from the off, the Spielberg made some hefty changes to the narrative. He's taken out characters. He's added characters. He's split up characters into different characters. For example. In the play there is German officer who defects to care for Joey and Topthorn and to protect a french family. In the film, this character is split in two. First, we have the brothers who flee the frontlines. Second, we have a compassionate German who urges and cares for the horses as they pull the german artillery near the end. And I missed having those qualities in the same character. Like that, it really hammers home the idea that people on one side really aren't all that different from people on the other side. We all share an appreciation for beauty, for strength, and for life. When this character is split up, the message is somewhat lost, and is now reduced to two attempts to tug at our heartstrings. Speaking of which...

The french family is still there, but vastly different. Instead of a mother and daughter, it's a grandfather and granddaughter. And while the character of the grandfather is significantly more robust than the mother, the way their whole story is wrapped left a very sour taste in my mouth. In the play, we weren't clued in to what happened to the family after we leave them, but that's not such a bad thing. This is Joey and Albert's story, and once the french family exits the picture, we don't need to know anything else about them. They've made their mark, so there's no need to hear from them again. But in the film, they pop back into frame at the last minute to offer some sort of closure. And while the revelation of what befell them is a real sucker punch to the gut, the way it's handled is so melodramatic and sentimental that the impact is barely felt.

And that's the main flaw of the film, and where the play easily surpasses it. The film is trying so hard to be emotionally devastating, that it comes off, more often than not, as nothing more than corny. The play didn't try at all. Not one bit, and it had me in tears by the halfway point.


Gassed Last Night

But there are some things that the movie does better. For starters, the horses. In the play, they used these awesome puppets that were operated by three men simultaneously. It looked beautiful, and was completely convincing. After a little bit, you don't even see the operators anymore. In the film, however, they use real horses. And, as far as I can tell, they only used special effects to create the steeds once. And while there's not much done to really distinguish these horses from their puppet counterparts, they do have one advantage. Eyes. Horse eyes are some of the most hypnotic ever to grace the face of a living creature, and they are accentuated to great effect here. Those eyes are, like, pools of emotion, and by god, does Spielberg do everything he can to drain those pools dry! Those shots of the horses gazing off at the chaos and carnage... awesome.

And then there's the war itself, and this is one area that film beats the play, soundly. Though he hasn't dealt with it in the longest time, Spielberg still knows what he's doing when it comes to shooting thrilling and intense action. He did great justice to World War II in Saving Private Ryan, and he does it again with World War I here. I'd say his accomplishments with War Horse are even greater because he manages to perfectly capture the horrors and terror of war, and does so without any serious gore or graphic images. It doesn't hurt that the action is some of the most exciting of the year. In the final act, the one that deals primarily with Albert and Joey's trials in No Man's Land, there's a whole mess of scenes that are thrilling and terrifying, all at the same time. Like Tintin a few weeks ago, Spielberg has, once again, shown that he is still of one of the best action directors working today. No one does it like him.


La Chansson De Craonne

And of all the Spielberg's that are present in this movie, Action Spielberg trumps them all. And that's not a bad thing, but I can't help but be disappointed with the overall product of his War Horse. I've seen, firsthand, the power and emotion that this story can transmit. I've seen what levels of power and emotion that Spielberg can transmit when he allows the story and characters to develop in realistic and human ways. There are moments of power in the film. The ending is just a heartfelt and genuine as it was in the play. But I just feel as if Spielberg didn't have enough faith in the material. It's a shame, because the material is aces. The film is still very good, and a highlight of 2011. But, in no way will I ever recommend it over the play. If you want the best version of this story, scrape up the cash and get your ass to Lincoln Center! You deserve it!



No comments:

Post a Comment


Knowledge Link Suggest

Drug Abuse Online Lottery Games Drug Abuse Health and Fitness Health and Fitness free music downloads Law Reports Wallpapers Artist online shop originals Product Auto Parts Web Developer online shop originals Product Insurance Company Health Life Technology System Home Security Beauty Cosmetic Online Travel Agency Linux Tips Guide Shooting Simulator Gadgets Technology Project Build Houses Payday Loans Health News Information Animals Shop Travel Agency North Owl Network Dentist Healthy Aging asian pretty The Tool Hospital Barbecook Best way to make Money with Forex Trading Green Home Design Online Lottery atozbythesea.eu.org augmentezvosventes.eu.org automobielbedrijf.eu.org aworldofwindows.eu.org aws-orgware.eu.org azregionalmls.eu.org bacimamma.eu.org Business Plan Competition travel channel and rental cars Pharmacy and drugs Criminal Justice Planning Agency Lawyers Association The Best of Insurance http://celebritytidings.eu.org http://livingandfashion.eu.org Academic Advising Audio logo Stock Audio auto repair advice guide Healthy Women Medical Centre busy with business Car Finance Tools Debt Settlement Lawyer crafty stash corner cuentas and colors Cheap Wedding Dresses drug abuse statistics Lifestyle Home Solutions education essay titles finance insurance premium Lawyer and Legal Information guide healthy recipes health problems of children health topics kids home decorating service home improvement project home improvement project management home improvement project planning home insurance morgages house insurance plan house insurance progressive The Savings Bank insurance agency business loans insurance business loans insurance premium loan legacy landscape blocks legacy landscape contractors legacy landscape materials personal insurance loan real estate for commercial Bedroom Furniture Lawyer Requirements Concept Design teach about alcohol abuse technology support autocar the family deal tile flooring ideas tips lifetime fitness tips reduce car insurance quotes Online Jewelry Stores traveller hotel Insurance and Finance Auto and Parts wood flooring ideas the networks board game Adult Learning Theories sexy lingerie tattoo designs wallpaper artist health category insurance financial category Category Online Money Category Home Improvement online business category Category software games and android category marketing advertising category marketing advertising Home Solution Real Estate Financing Lucepedia Sports and Fitness Train Now Business Economy Global auto car loans car loans insurance Health Information how to prevent diabetes Best Credit Cards Cheap Wedding Dresses Small Business Finance Systems Body Health Home Improvement Services Guide Android Apps and Games fashion design Alcoholism Android Phones Board Games Cheap Tickets and Vacation Packages Online Prevent Child Obesity Prevent Premature Ejaculation Labor Lawyers Home Interior Design Ideas plumbers and carpet cleaning service diet and slimming Beautiful Picture Doctors Dental Care music video art BurningPedia Guide Planning Home Improvement Beauty Cosmetic Web Development Company lawyer requirements Books On Children Education security innovation work iPhone and iPad Turkey The Medical School Barbecue Electric The Linux Documentation Project Mental Health Care New Car Buying Guide House Curtains Dentist All System Education iPhone Specifications Cloud Trading Strategy mortgages and loans Pharmaceutical Info Online Application Service Provider The Masterchef Business Service Delivery Arts and Entertainment Pokerstars Real Money The Masterchef Electric Motors Gadgets Technology Casino Zone Small Business Solutions Home Advice Fashion Design Clothing Adventure Games Health and Fitness Hospital Equipment Plan Life Insurance public transportation services Prevent Premature Ejaculation Best Professional Carpet Cleaning Web Hosting Vehicle Emissions Inspection Drug Abuse Collection Travel Agency Medical Herbs color vision casting Aromatherapy Tips community film Cardio Tips Top Best Home Improvements Article Marketing Colon Cleanse Tips Terms and Conditions of Sale Products for Treating Acne Scars Natural Beauty Products Seo Web Marketing Business Prospects Trade Online Tool House Cleaner Bathing Equipment Financial Solutions Credit Loans Business Insurance Best Supplements Online Affiliate Marketing Web Design Jobs Online Business Degrees Travel and Leisure Hotel Business Online Payment Processor Women Management Criminal Law Marketing Product Webdesign Transportation Services The Marketing Business Prospects Trade Online Shop bed furniture free movies online Direct Hardware Supply Free Download PDF Technology Ipad doctors Specials Medical Dictionary Legacy Landscape Bank South Pacific Carpet Cleaner Best Internet Business Seo Web Marketing Doctor Healthy Doctors Diet Program Health Benefits of Drinking Water ups pills drugs Best Supplements dynasty fine jewelry Ceramic Floor Tile Online Business Degrees Property Residential and Commercial Real Estate All About Medical Bankruptcy Prevent Child Obesity Handbag and Shoes Education of Children physiotherapy school Cheap Airline Tickets Healthy Life PET online Interzoo Rehabilitation Center electric hybrid vehicles Baidu Software Center Automotive Advertising Agencies Health and Care Virtual private network Student Education Technosound Wedding Dresses excel archives Classic Car Restoration Defense Audit Banking Travel and holiday Forex Trading Jobs Cheap Car Insurance Opening the Book Safe Chemical Act Presspeople System Software Plan Life Insurance Top Best Home Improvements Cheap Car Insurance Auto Parts and Service Swiss Business Acting in Real Time Fitness Equipment Tips Bodybuilding Tips Search Engine Optimization Cardio Tips Beauty Salon Express The Best Advice Lawyer Advice Associated With Online Payday Spa and Wellness Center Packages Holiday Travel European Countries Tours Small Business Finance Electronic Cigarette Commercial Law Advice on Travel Planning Home and Family All System Education Graphic Visual Photo business between countries Shop Online Financial Security Authority Latest Fashion Trends Photoshop Wallpaper Real Estate Agents Micro Cogeneration Beauty Products Business Travel Insurance International Trucks For Sale Hair Tonic Top Web Design Business Financial Touring Start Vehicle Emissions Inspection Business Service Delivery Insurance and Finance Web Design Business Shopping Online Insurance Processing Systems Electric System Vehicle Blood Medicine European Vehicle Market Pharmaceutical Section Home sale Beauty Therapy Acupuncture Recipes Kitchen Restaurant Hardwood Flooring Resident Services The Masterchef Employment and the Economy Free Web Design Paint Creations Travel Insurance SEO Consulting Services Car Insurance Loans Doctors Dental Care Vehicle Wash Systems Search Engine Marketing Online Education Schools Natural Beauty Site Cheap Wedding Dresses annuaire automobile episiotomy and pregnant Westerly Lawyers Healthcare Travel Vacations Cheap iPhone Specifications The ReaL Estate Event Online Pharmacy and Drugstore Music Video Art CareCredit Cloud Trading Strategy House Cleaning Services Interoperability the talent agency Good Home Design shooting simulator Independent Port Services The Hotel Sax The Digital Money Booking Tickets and Hotels Online Business Loans Department of Pharmacy Law Free Credit Report football development Trending in Entertainment Prison Education Sexy Lingerie Wood Flooring Ideas Dealer Optics and Ophthalmology Car Insurance Online Urbanism and Architecture Electronic money International Conference on Education Dental Care Auto Repair Shop Auto Repair Advice Guide Dental Clinic Online Pharmacy Debt Consolidation Loans Free Software Smartphone Advice on benefits Insurance Providence Real Estate Product Research Analyst Product Research Facilitator Fashion Magazine Substance Abuse Education And Technology Marketing Strategy The Best Payday Advance Incident Report Criminal Accounting Books Caring for Pets Real Estate Financing Banking Software Solutions Financial Solutions Credit Loans Full Service Research Agency Discover our free games Business Prospects Trade Online Restaurant Hood Cleaning how to start a business Women's Health and Beauty Payday Loans Criminal Attorney Lawyers Travel and Tourism Fashion Designer The Food Products Fitness and Sports The Beginner's Guide to Businesses Tips To Make SEO Techniques Online Payday Loans Medical Advocate Englisch Training Online Drivers Education Auto Parts and Service Best hotels cheap sport shoes Dental Work Insurance Company Android Phones Financial Advice Service Mobile phone Free Credit Report  The Hair Tonic Advantage Car Rental Information Civil Law Information Payday Cash Loans Payday Cash Loans Advance Affordable Auto Insurance Effective Quality Services Car seats Product Interactions Specialist Medicina Natural Traveller and Hotel European Investment Bank Vehicle Electrical System Pet Food Shop Online Lawyer Employment Plaza Ballroom Weddings Art School The best form of insurance solutions Advice on benefits Insurance Medical coding Tutor Buying Safe Products Free Online Game Famous Fashion Designers Education in Music Virtual Currency Systems Learn Trading Folktronica music Digital currency Manufacturing Engineering Technology Fashionista The Money System Explained Good Marketing In Business Technology Ipad Real Estate Bubble CarePass for Android Business Direct Marketing Carpet Cleaner Natural Beauty Products Seo Web Marketing Business Prospects Trade Online Tool House Cleaner Bathing Equipment Financial Solutions Credit Loans Business Insurance Best Supplements Online Affiliate Marketing Web Design Jobs Online Business Degrees Travel and Leisure Hotel Property Residential and Commercial Real Estate All About Medical Bankruptcy Prevent Child Obesity Handbag and Shoes Education of Children Women Management Free Online Slots Games Healthy Life PET online Interzoo Sunrise Health and Rehabilitation Center Presspeople System Software Baidu Software Center Scientific Entrepreneurship Automotive Advertising Agencies Health and Care Virtual private network Student Education Technosound Information network energy sources Niche Dating Classic Car Restoration Defense Audit Banking Travel and holiday Safe Chemical Act Leader in internet information Music Electric The Marketing verb translation country island FILM LITERATURE GOLD STATUS A Short History of Movies Sexy Lingerie Classified ads Inspire Home Design Trauma Clinic Finance Investment Business Marketing Acting in Real Time Glasgow Tourism Herbal Medicine Cheap Car Insurance Quotes Health Pregnancy Professional Graphic and New Media Designers Legal Connect Network Generating Money Online Oregon health plan Slow Cooker Recipes Best Internet Business Terms and Conditions of Sale Products for Treating Acne Scars Hardwoods Furniture Green Tea Fitness Equipment Tips Bodybuilding Tips Forex Trading Article Marketing Colon Cleanse Tips Hair Loss Tips List Building Search Engine Optimization Cardio Tips Aromatherapy Tips Medical Weight Loss Clinic The Benefits Of Moving Insurance Travel Advice Online Dating Security Network Information Green Energy Scheme Group Auto International Business Telecommunication International All Medicine Reviews Marketplace Real Estate Review Clothing Style Management Consulting Real estate Natural Medicine Treatment Natural Beauty Skin Care Products Shop online Marketing Bank rent car guide Fishing Games cheap website traffic Health and Beauty Gambling football Clothes and Accessories Garden and Landscaping Portal Game Online E-commerce Business Car Accident Lawyer Criminal Law Best free Android apps Hotel and Travel Jobs Technology Film Industry Free Music Downloads Solar Installation Search Engine Optimization Life Technologies Football Betting Site Substance Abuse Apartments home improvement contractor job Luxury Car News Law Products and Services Business Web Hosting Company Complaints Diabetes Drug Abuse Marketing Product Make Money Online Living Without Money Apartments Luxury Car News Law Products and Services Growth Technologies Articles on business growth technologies information Health Insurance Management Advisors System Solar Panel Online Trading The Best of Insurance Payday Loans for Bad Credit Financial Solutions Credit Loans Ensure Insurance Plan Financial Management Team Payday Loans Reviews Distributed File System Student Loan Payments Cheap Insurance in Los Angeles Favorite Fashion Styles The Best Savings Rates Manage Student Loans Webshop europe business guide Shop Personal Loans debt consolidation loans Personal Loan Repayment Chiropractic Tables Webdesign Management Concepts Android Software Free Internet Solution the online casino Best Small Business Blogs Sound Beginnings Automotive Electrical Systems Skin Care in Centrum Master Ethique Cher Client Agency Law Sell Products Online Mens Shoes Strategy Business Development Women's shoes Headache Causes Shop Online Clothing Online Pharmacy Healthy Aging Battle Games best electric vehicle Commercial Real Estate Cosmetic Beauty Product Health Medicine Pharmacy Image of the Orient Fashion Jewellery

Blog Archive