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If anyone else has refused to watch Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of War Horse until they could attend the puppet version from Britain’s National Theatre, the fact that the Tony Award-winning theatrical hit has embarked on a 20-city tour of the U.S. may be welcome news. The equestrian extravaganza is currently strutting the stage in San Francisco, (while simultaneously continuing its long runs in London, New York, and Toronto) and has visits scheduled for Portland, Spokane, Dallas, Chicago, Des Moines, St. Louis, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Boston, and more over the next 11 months – as well as tours of Britain and Australia in 2013. Fortunately, the tour kicked off with a run in Los Angeles, and I’ve kept my own vow by seeing War Horse live on stage first, then followed it with Spielberg’s movie on DVD. The contrast is striking and deep-seated.

Knowing that Spielberg has a tendency to, if not glamorize, at least fetishize, warriors and military heroism (i.e. his executive-produced series Band of Brothers, his opus Saving Private Ryan, most likely his upcoming Civil War ode Lincoln, and even a 40-min war film he made at age 14) it is hardly surprising that historian Jacques R. Pauwels wrote on Political Film Blog that Spielberg’s War Horse is “militarist” and fails to question the First World War. And it turns out I agree with Pauwels. But those who haven’t seen the National Theatre show that motivated the making of this movie epic of a horse and his boy ought to take note that the stage version is A Very Different Animal.

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Originally posted to Jennifer Epps on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 09:18 AM PDT.

Also republished by Theatricals.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    UnionMade, FG, slksfca

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” --Margaret Mead

    by Jennifer A Epps on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 09:18:24 AM PDT

  •  completely agree (0+ / 0-)

    The puppet theatre version is fantastic and quite moving. The Spielberg is just more self-aggrandizing war porn.

    •  It's true (0+ / 0-)

      Apparently many people feel the same way. I hope that those who disliked the movie -- even if just because they thought it was too sappy and cloying -- don't assume the play is of the same ilk and stay away from it.

      Even though the theatrical version has become an international commercial success, I think it is inherently pretty experimental. That happens every once in a while, that a show hits a nerve or is so fresh that it really takes off (i.e. "Blue Man Group" could very well have been performed in a garrett for a handful of people but enough of the public responded to their show it became long-running in several cities). Spielberg seems to have missed that aspect of it too.

      “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” --Margaret Mead

      by Jennifer A Epps on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 02:06:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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