‘War Horse’ follows in hoof prints of classic equine movies
The upcoming release of Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” calls to mind a long and storied bloodline of great horse movies in Hollywood history.
Generations of filmmakers have been drawn to the allure of horses and man’s long, close history with magnificent equine steeds. In fact some of the first moving images ever shot were of horses galloping.
In 1878 Eadweard Muybridge photographed a horse named Occident in fast motion using a series of 12 stereoscopic cameras. The cameras were arranged along a track parallel to the horse’s, and each of the camera shutters was controlled by a trip wire that was triggered by the horse’s hooves.
So as we prepare to take a journey in the hoof prints of a horse named Joey in “War Horse,” we’ve dusted off 10 of our favorite equine epics from the movies:
“Into the West” (1993) – In this enchanting Irish tale from director Mike Newell, two young Dublin brothers get the gift of a white stallion named Tir na nOg from their grandfather. When authorities threaten to impound the animal and sell it, the lads set off into the west on a wild flight to save their horse.
“National Velvet” (1944) – Elizabeth Taylor was a blue-eyed, brunette ingénue when she played the spirited young girl, Velvet, who wins the feisty horse Pie in the town lottery and teams up with a rootless young trainer (Mickey Rooney) to prepare the horse for the Grand National – England’s greatest racing event.
“The Black Stallion” (1979) – In this post-World War II story, a 10-year-old boy becomes shipwrecked on an island with a spirited Arabian stallion and the two bond. Once they are rescued, the boy and horse team up with a trainer (Mickey Rooney again) to prepare for a daunting challenge match against the fastest racehorses in the world.
“Seabiscuit” (2003) – This true, Depression-era tale examines the life and times of Seabiscuit, the small, unconventional champion steed with a slight limp, and the horse’s inspirational, redemptive effect on the struggling nation and on two down-on-their-luck human partners – the man who trained him and the jockey who rode him.
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