War Horse Farrier: Brendan Murray Speaks to Samantha Clark About How He Helped Joey Keep His Shoes On

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Napoleon once said that an army moves on its stomach. But the cavalry moves on its hooves, and it took an army of farriers–called “shoeing smiths” by the British military–to keep the horses moving in World War I.

But what about a film crew? And what about the production of Steven Spielberg’s film War Horse in England in 2010?

War Horse News gold logo (small)DreamWorks Pictures learned the importance of a farrier too, especially when Roger, a plow-horse lookalike for Joey, kept stepping on (and thereby pulling off) his shoes in the furrow.

“Cut!” “Get the farrier up here!” “Where’s the farrier?”

And not only did the farrier have to keep putting shoes back on in the midst of many shoots that were mired in mud: director Spielberg put location farrier Brendan Murray to work in the forge in the shoeing scene. They turned the camera on him and his apprentice for the crucial background action in the scene where Joey meets Topthorn while the two are waiting to be shod.

You’ll hear all about it in this interview with Great Britain’s international eventing team farrier Brendan Murray, a seasoned veteran of both shoeing and riding for film productions!

Brendan was interviewed by Lexington, Kentucky’s freelance equestrian media pro Samantha L. Clark of eventingnation.com and many other audio, video and web projects for the horse world. This is Samantha’s first “guest blog” under the banner War Horse News and it’s appropriate that it arrived as a media file, instead of a text document or an image file

Brendan Murray

British eventing team farrier Brendan Murray "kitted out" for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. (Photo links to Brendan's Zimbio page)

About Brendan Murray
Brendan has been associated as eventing team farrier with the British Equestrian Federation and Team GBR for many years. He has served at five Olympic Games, three World Equestrian Games, and many European championships. He was flag bearer for Great Britain and led his country into the arena in the opening ceremonies of the 2010 WEG in Kentucky, as chosen by the athletes.

Brendan is retired as a farrier in the British military’s esteemed King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery; among his duties was serving as brakeman for the gun carriage loaded with the casket of Princess Diana at her funeral in 1997. Among Brendan’s film on-screen credits are Gladiator, Robin Hood and 2012′s Snow White and the Huntsman.

You might enjoy a video interview by Samantha Clark with Brendan at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.

Samantha Clark, 2010 Radio Show host

Samantha Clark

About Samantha Clark: Who is she? Then: eventer, NPR news anchor, and (most recently) co-host of the 2010 Radio Show about the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Now: armed with social media, camera, video and a smart phone, she knows no bounds.

Samantha says of herself: “I’m thrilled to have my blog on EventingNation.com as an excuse to pursue an incurable curiosity about anything to do with horses (especially eventing), satisfy my wanderlust and aid in my determination to cling to my English roots. I’m often accompanied by two small children–sometimes helpful, sometimes a hindrance–and almost always by a beautiful, black Labrador who is perfect company!”

Samantha’s blog is a must-read on the web and she is equally a must-follow on Twitter: @samanthalclark for great horse tweets from Kentucky and the eventing world.

More about Samantha Clark

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Be brave! Entrench yourself in WAR HORSE NEWS on the web: 1) Bookmark WarHorseBlog.com; 2) Grab the RSS feed; 3) Follow @WarHorseNews on Twitter; 4) “Like” the War Horse News page on Facebook; 5) Circle War Horse News on Google +. Leave your questions and comments here on the blog and we’ll try to help you! WAR HORSE NEWS is written for moviegoers, horse lovers and history buffs by horse-specialist journalist Fran Jurga and hosted by Equisearch.com.

War Horse Stars: Children’s Books Really Do Impact Our Adult Lives–Just Ask the Cast!

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This mini-video from DreamWorks takes War Horse in a new direction.

Maybe, as Grandfather so eloquently suggests in the film, we can “never look down…” but we can look back.

Many of Steven Spielberg’s cast members had personal connections to the War Horse story, either because they lost family members in World War I and grew up with that legacy, or because they read War Horse (the book) by Michael Morpurgo when they were children.

War Horse News small gold logo badgeAnd then, there they were, acting War Horse out on the screen.

Jeremy Irvine (Albert), Tom Hiddleston (Captain Nicholls) and David Kross (Gunther) remember what books they read as children, from Sendak to Saint-Exupery to Tolkein and Fitzgerald.

(Tom Hiddleston was one very sophisticated little boy! The British actor who played Captain Nicholls read The Great Gatsby when he was very young and then went on to play Fitzgerald in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.)

But they all remember War Horse. And so will you.

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Be brave! Entrench yourself in WAR HORSE NEWS on the web: 1) Bookmark WarHorseBlog.com; 2) Grab the RSS feed; 3) Follow @WarHorseNews on Twitter; 4) “Like” the War Horse News page on Facebook; 5) Circle War Horse News on Google +. Leave your questions and comments here on the blog and we’ll try to help you! WAR HORSE NEWS is written for moviegoers, horse lovers and history buffs by horse-specialist journalist Fran Jurga and hosted by Equisearch.com.

The War Horse App Is Ready for Your iPad!

Joey and Geordie leave No Man's Land behind

Do you love War Horse? There's an app for that...

DreamWorks has released the interactive War Horse iPad app to enrich your experience of the film.

“What kind of an app?”

“A miraculous kind of an app, be my guess.”

The War Horse app–which is compatible with iPads equipped with iOS 3.2 or later, can be downloaded from iTunes. And it’s free!

The app gives important technical and production details about the film.

Content of the app includes what you’d expect–trailers, a photo gallery, and film information–but it also has a terrific interactive map of England and France, showing the locations where the film was set.  There is also a film times and showing information facet that will make it easy for you to find or recommend a screening anywhere in the world!

Joey's map of the world is interactive in the War Horse iPad app.

This app apparently only works on an Apple iPad but if you don’t have one, you surely know someone who does–and it’s a free download.

Your War Horse iPad App download is just a click away!

All photos in this post are © DreamWorks II Distribution.

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Be brave! Entrench yourself in WAR HORSE NEWS on the web: 1) Bookmark WarHorseBlog.com; 2) Grab the RSS feed; 3) Follow @WarHorseNews on Twitter; 4) “Like” the War Horse News page on Facebook; 5) Circle War Horse News on Google +. Leave your questions and comments here on the blog and we’ll try to help you! WAR HORSE NEWS is written for moviegoers, horse lovers and history buffs by horse-specialist journalist Fran Jurga and hosted by Equisearch.com.

War Horse Is in the Theaters: Roll the Reviews

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Enjoy these dueling reviews a la classic Siskel + Ebert style from some University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinematic Arts student film reviewers. They offer some food for thought! Each student film critic covers valid points, whether pro or con, in the film. Will the public identify with this horse and attach to him emotionally–or is the average person just too far removed from the horse as a sentient being?
War Horse News Blog Fran Jurga Equisearch logo small
But the big question is hard to frame. In a movie that is an epic, and has so many moods and tempos, it is often a matter of what “sticks” with people. For me, it was the cavalry section early in the war, and the French farm scenes. The opening section set in the English countryside seemed like another movie in itself–it had a beginning, a conflict (the plowing scene) and a resolution, and then a second conflict opened another chapter, or (if you like) another movie. War Horse could easily have started right there.

Oscar for "An American in Paris" on display at the TCM Classic Film Festival at the Mann's Chinese 6

Many people complained that the movie was too long, and I think they have a point but for me it could have gone on and on. I was captivated by the lyric storytelling. The actors flitted by; I wanted to reach out to some of them and beg them to stay in the movie. But along came another one who intrigued me.

When the lights come on in the theater and we file out into the fresh air, bits of War Horse cling to us like burrs. There are scenes stuck to me here and here and here–and different scenes stuck to you, in different places, I’m sure. Do you want to capture them like fragile butterflies or brush them off like cobwebs?

It’s the same after every movie, but we often leave theaters and never think of that movie consciously again. I doubt that will be the case with War Horse.

Do you have a War Horse hangover? is there War Horse residue stuck to you? What will you do with your thoughts about War Horse? Was it just a movie? Or did it awaken something or some place in you that you hope to explore?

Be brave! Entrench yourself in War Horse News on the web: 1) Bookmark WarHorseBlog.com; 2) Grab the RSS feed; 3) Follow @WarHorseNews on Twitter; 4) “Like” the War Horse News page on Facebook; 5) Circle War Horse News on Google +. Leave your questions and comments here on the blog and we’ll try to help you!

Begin at the Beginning: The Story of the Painting of the War Horse That Doesn’t Hang in the Village Hall

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War Horse author Michael Morpurgo explains how a painting of Joey described in the author’s note to his book went from fiction to fact, thanks to artist Ali Bannister.

Let’s start at the beginning of War Horse. You know it’s about the war seen through the eyes of a single horse, right?

Well, who is that horse?

His name was Joey. And he never existed.

Joey was a fictitious horse–until this fall, anyway, when his portrait was painted. Ali Bannister’s beautiful painting of Joey will hang in the village hall in Michael Morpurgo’s corner of Devon, England. This most famous of British war horses will certainly seem like a real horse now.

Here’s the first page of the book War Horse, where the painting is described:

“In the old school they use now for the village hall, below the clock that has stood always at one minute past ten, hangs a small dusty painting of a horse. He stands, a splendid red bay with a remarkable white cross emblazoned on his forehead and with four perfectly matched white socks. He looks wistfully out of the picture,  his ears pricked forward, his head turned as if he has just noticed us standing there.

“To many who glance up at it casually, as they might do when the hall is opened up for parish meetings, for harvest suppers or evening socials, it is merely a tarnished old oil painting of some unknown horse by a competent but anonymous artist. To them the picture is so familiar that it commands little attention. But those who look more closely will see, written in fading black copperplate across the bottom of the bronze frame:

Joey.

Painted by Captain James Nicholls, Autumn 1914.

“Some in the village, only a very few now and fewer as each year goes by, remember Joey as he was. His story is written so that neither he nor those who knew him, nor the war they lived and died in, will be forgotten.”

And so this marvelous book begins. Please consider reading it before you see the film. Or read half of it, so you won’t spoil the ending.

Ali Bannister's portrait of Joey, a.k.a. War Horse

Ali's prints of the painting of Joey will be signed by her, not by Captain Nicholls. And don't worry, Joey's tail isn't docked in the movie, although it would probably have been in real life. (Image courtesy Ali Bannister)

Note: Ali Bannister has prints of the Joey War Horse portraits for sale on her web site. Ali Bannister was equine artistic advisor to Steven Spielberg’s production company during the filming of War Horse. It was her job to make the horses look like they had been through a war. If they give an Oscar for makeup on animals, Ali Bannister deserves to win it.

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Be brave! Entrench yourself in War Horse News on the web: 1) Bookmark WarHorseBlog.com; 2) Grab the RSS feed; 3) Follow @WarHorseNews on Twitter; 4) “Like” the War Horse News page on Facebook; 5) Circle War Horse News on Google +. Leave your questions and comments here on the blog and we’ll try to help you!