Filmmaking legend Steven Spielberg talks horses and music at the War Horse press conference

January 13 2012

As War Horse opens in cinemas on January 13, The Fan Carpet were fortunate enough to attend the press conference ahead of it's release, allowing the opportunity to speak with the director of the picture, a little-known film-maker by the name of Steven Spielberg.

Based on the book by Michael Morpurgo, War Horse tells the emotionally-driven story of one man’s relationship with a horse named Joey, and how they are torn apart by Joey's involvement in The First World War. Featuring a host of talent, such as newcomer Jeremy Irvine, Tom Hiddleston and Emily Watson, and a screenplay by Richard Curtis, War Horse is a film certain to bring in the punters.

Joined by producer of the film Kathleen Kennedy, who has worked with Spielberg for over thirty years, the pair discussed what it was like making a feature with so many horses, whilst Spielberg also gave us an insight into his own career, the up's and down's, and the point he was finally given the poetic license to make a film about flying saucers.


What is so special about the story of War Horse?

Steven Spielberg: Well the bones of the story is that it’s a love story, and that’s what makes it universal. It was that way in the book and it was certainly that way on the West End, and that’s what we really tried to do in our adaptation of War Horse, was to really create a bonding story where Joey basically circumvents the emotional globe of the Great War and gets very, not only connected with the people who are caring for him, but more importantly Joey has a way of bringing people together, especially people from both sides of that war, and that was very evident in the play.


Did you find yourself looking more to the book or the play?

Steven Spielberg: I took more from Richard Curtis’ script. I mean Richard wrote a brilliant screenplay. I was very drawn to the way Richard saw the story, you know a little bit more like the book, Richard did not want Albert to come back into the movie until very late, so we have a hiatus from our central character you know, and we don’t even see Albert until the third act, and that was something that Richard brought into the equation.

Kathleen Kennedy: I do think that its very interesting now that this story exists in literature, on the stage and now its a film. Each one is so different and yet we're all borrowing from what Michael Morpurgo created.


Scarcely has the British landscape looked so good on film, I was wondering what your first reaction to both the Devon and Castle Combe locations?

Steven Spielberg: Oh, Castle Combe looks like Hollywood built it! It doesn’t look real, but beautiful; it’s very authentic and very old. The Devon location has some of the most natural wonders in all of England, with the tours that are so beautiful, and you know the tours that are built in a most unusual way. I’ve only seen something like this one other time and that was in New Zealand, where there are also tours, large areas of high desert. There’s nothing like the landscapes of Devon, we couldn’t believe it, and you know the original script didn’t have the budget that allowed us to go to Devon and we stretched the budget a bit to afford to go there and it was worth every penny.

Kathleen Kennedy: It was pretty extraordinary because everybody told us that when we get down to Cornwall and Devon it would be raining quite a bit, which is apparently why its so beautiful. But we had wonderful sunny skies and we also had fog come in which added a lot of texture to the landscape. I don't think I've been on a movie where you were shooting and you look around and suddenly the whole crew have stopped working and there just staring out at the landscape.





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