Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Saturday, 22 March 2014 09:02

National Theatre's 'War Horse' stuns from 3-D to 2- + Video

National Theatre's 'War Horse' stuns from 3-D to 2- www.sharmillfilms.com.au / Brinkhoff Mogenburg
Written by Martha K. Baker
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Related Video

About this essay writer Media...

  • Director: Elliott/Morris
  • Dates: March 23, 2014

If you haven't yet figured out a way to acknowledge the centenary of the start of World War I, you could do worse than to see the National Theatre of England's production on film. It plays at noon this Sunday, March 23, ONLY.

What the stage production, even on film, has over the movie version is the theatricality -- the puppets, the projections, the minimal set, the lighting, the company of actors, and the music. All come together to do what theater does best, and it ends -- for anyone with a heart -- in a great weeping, not from crass manipulation but from genuine wringing of deep emotions. As the author of the book, Michael Morpurgo, says in an interview in the interval, "War Horse" is about about the longing for peace.

In Devon in August 1912, a farmer buys a Thoroughbred colt although, if he were going to buy any horse with the mortgage money, it should have been a plow horse. He hands the horse to his son, Albert, to care for and train, and Albert does that while falling in love with the chestnut horse he names Joey. Along the way, Albert is forced to teach Joey had to tolerate a collar and to plow. The young man tells the horse, "You have to do this to survive."

When the Great War begins, Joey is sold to the cavalry and ends up with Germans after the Somme. But as Morpurgo reminds the audience, horses don't take sides -- they just do the bidding. Morpurgo told the story from the horse's point of view, which works on the page. On the stage, the story is told from many, many voices, some in English, some French, some German. All the actors are so fine. The horse's feelings are communicated by the swish of a tail or the list of an ear.

The stage production began, indeed, with the horse, that is, with the Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa. Those puppeteers were the ones who figured out how to get a horse on stage and how to articulate the horse. Sometimes, Joey seems so real and demands focus on his every move; sometimes, you see the puppeteers who handle Joey, the heart and hind and head. Their work is amazing and admirable.

So, too, is that of the set designer Rae Smith, who conceived of a header for projection over the set, on which dates and scenes appear and below which gunfire shoots. The songman is Ben Murray -- he'll bend your heart and ear.

Tom Morris and Marianne Elliott directed the National Theatre's production with vivid understanding of story and theater. Everything about the production on film is a celebration of the longing for peace and the work of artists toward that end.

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

KDHX Recommends

April
Friday
03

New Music Circle presents On Fillmore with Glen Kotche and Darin Gray

On Fillmore is the multi-instrumental duo of bassist Darin Gray (Edwardsville/St. Louis) and percussionist Glenn Kotche (Chicago). They've been dubbed “the rhythm section’s revenge” by Jim O’Rourke, when...


April
Saturday
04

Brunch at the Stage: Riverside Wanderers

KDHX is now curating a Saturday brunch series at the Stage with live music from local musicians and delicious, locally-sourced food and drinks from the Magnolia Café. Brunch at the Stage takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m....


April
Saturday
04

Vocal Workshop with Bernice Hembree

Folk School at KDHX In this vocal workshop we will attempt to fine-tune your vocal skills. You will learn new technique to improve your sound, and shape your voice by adding color and depth to your sound. Group work will focus on harmony singing and...


Online Users

6 users and 9830 guests online
Sign in with Facebook

SYSTEM: S5 Box

Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook