Wednesday, January 11, 2012

War Horse

how cute are you Captain Nicholls?
I just got back from War Horse which I went to by myself while the actors were at rehearsal and the other costumers went to Sherlock Holmes. I saw the play in London as a part of my study abroad which forced me to read the play first. This ruined the ending for me which I didn't appreciate and I feel took away the emotional impact of the ending. I felt like seeing the play did the same for the movie. I knew what was going to happen and even though they threw a little twist in at the end I figured they couldn't change the bare bones of it. If I'm remembering the play correctly they changed and added some characters to make it more movie friendly, but overall it was basically the same plot.

Major change: no puppets. No puppets, no magic. The horse actors were phenomenal, but I just wasn't really drawn in. Honestly I never connected with the schpeal about a boy and his horse so it was the puppets of the play and the music of the Song Man that really got me. Without the spectacular puppets and eerie songs a lot was left to be desired. The score by John Williams was pretty, but nothing special, not like we've come to expect from him, although he does know how to use his French horns. While Joey the horse was beautiful I felt that he wasn't showcased enough. This might seem strange since he's the star, but the way it was filmed or something just didn't have the impact of how amazing these creatures were. The same goes for Topthorn who's the bad-a giant black horse that Joey befriends. In the play his puppet is remarkably bigger and differently built from Joey. The first time we see Topthorn in the film this is the case, but Topthorn's physical prowess is lost for the rest of it. Overall the horses just seemed tiny. Considering 14 horses were used for Joey it's no surprise that the changing of their size and build was distracting throughout. I just longed for the all encompassing theatre experience with the lighting and sound and live actors and all the audience members sharing the experience with you.

Highlights? Benedict Cumberbatch of course. I was grinning like a fool when he entered as Major Stewart even though he looks so dopey with a mustache. I was surprisingly taken with handsome Tom Hiddleston as Captain Nicholls who's getting better with age (even though it's only been 3 years since Cranford). Other than those two it was sort of a who's who of not too terribly famous British actors (Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, David Thewlis). The full length shots of the riding was of course a major highlight, even if you could tell it wasn't always Cumberbatch and Hiddleston doing their own riding, but sometimes it was, and you know how I love a good gallop.

Of course I was mortified by the war scenes and the barbed wire, but I wasn't really moved all that much. I went hoping to weep through the whole thing as others I know have done, but honestly I only got emotional during the Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close trailer and during the credits when it said "Based on the play by So and So, first produced at the London National Theatre".
Topthorn is a boss.

I think as a movie those who haven't experienced the magic and charm of the play won't mind it and will probably even like it. It's sentimental and patriotic in a "isn't war horrible, rah for getting through it" kind of a way. Albert wasn't nearly as terrible as he is in the play, that's something the movie has. It also kept the goose.

Original entry on War Horse the play (bottom of entry).

1 comment:

  1. Holy smokes! I wouldn't have recognized Cumberbatch if you hadn't pointed him out! He is great. Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch in one movie... epic.