My Dad treated me to belated birthday present today, we went to see War Horse – the stage production using advanced puppetry techniques and artistic stagecraft to recreate the terrors of the first world war for both man and beast.
I was wowed by the performance. We had fantastic seats right by the stage. At several points in the show, the horses (for you very quickly forget that they are puppets, so effortless is their movement) appear to leap over your head, birds fly above you, machine gun fire comes at you from around the theatre. It was enjoyable but very emotional.
It highlighted to me how defenceless the animals were when sent to war and how vulnerable the young soldiers were. There is one scene where a father despairs when he learns his son is fighting in a war with machine guns and all he has to defend himself is a bayonet, a very slow loading rifle and a knife inherited from his grandfather.
It thanked my lucky stars that my generation and (hopefully) my children live in a different time when the West is at peace. I hopep my children never turn round to me later with ideas of entering the services.
I had read the book already and had seen the first 30 minutes of the Spielberg film (didnt bother watching the rest because it was crap). The stage play was so good it showed how much potential the movie could have had but Spielberg chose to turn it into some heavily filtered, tame, unrealistic, schmaltzy pap – its a shame it could have been so much better.
I thoroughly recommend War Horse and I hope it remains on stage for years to come to remind generations of the extreme sacrifices made by animals and people during the First World War.
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