War Horse: A Very Short Review

by Brenda W. Clough

302px-War_Horse_(8570054347) While we were in London we saw the UK production of War Horse. This show won five Tonys in the US production, and a hatful of awards in Britain. It also was made into a movie by Steven Spielberg. I had not realized that the original source material was a popular British children’s book of the same name, by Michael Morpurgo.

People do not go to see this stage show for the story, which is somewhat sentimental and rather coincidence-heavy. What carries the stage drama, perfectly, is the puppetry. Joey the horse is played by a team of three to five puppeteers, and it is absolutely convincing. The puppet moves and acts like a real horse, exquisitely observed and masterfully manipulated. It is a marvel of stagecraft, able to do all the gaits, carry riders, even pull a plow across the stage. And there are several puppet horses, a farmyard goose, even some birds. The theatricality of it is entirely winning and worth every penny.

What would happen if you lost that? I haven’t seen the Spielberg movie. But the work is perfect for Spielberg. It cries out for him. It was clearly ordained by Heaven to be made into a movie by him, and he did. He used a real horse to play Joey, as you might expect, and so it must be very very different. I don’t think I want to see it, but if somebody has, tell me about it.

The ebook version of my novel How Like a God is now available from Book View Cafe.

How Like a God, by Brenda W. CloughMy newest novel Speak to Our Desires is out from Book View Café.

I also have stories in Book View Café’s two steampunk anthologies, The Shadow Conspiracy and The Shadow Conspiracy II, as well as in BVC’s many other anthologies, including our latest, Beyond Grimm.



About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.


War Horse: A Very Short Review — 3 Comments

  1. I saw the play in New York City a couple years ago. The staging, the puppets, were truly wonderful. I’m not sure I would want to see it as a film, either.

  2. I saw the film. It was an obvious shmaltz fest where the message I and my cohorts took away with was “this horse is cursed; all its owners who were not The Boy die. If you saw this horse, you should run away!”

    I don’t think that was the message they intended. 🙂