Sen­ti­men­tal jour­ney

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES - LEIGH PAATSCH

‘‘ He was happy to say ‘ let’s never mind what is in the script, never mind what we’ve planned. Look at where the light is, look at what the ac­tors are do­ing, look at what the horses are do­ing let’s just shoot it’,’’ he says.

‘‘ I just thought that was amaz­ing and the ef­fi­ciency of it was re­ally breath­tak­ing.’’

Though learn­ing a thing or two from Spiel­berg could hardly be con­sid­ered sur­pris­ing, Hid­dle­ston says he man­aged to pick up a few tips and tricks from the horses in the film too.

‘‘ Some­times the horses are re­ally just be­ing horses and it would make you feel like you weren’t be­ing true enough and I found that quite in­spir­ing as a les­son in my work,’’ he says.

‘‘ Ac­tu­ally it’s all about be­ing real and try­ing to be as au­then­tic as pos­si­ble.’’

Hid­dle­ston says work­ing with the horses was one of the most ex­tra­or­di­nary film ex­pe­ri­ences of his life be­cause they do ‘‘ the stuff you can’t write’’.

‘‘ Horses by their very na­ture are com­pletely spon­ta­neous an­i­mals and part of the magic of cin­ema is that quite of­ten the best shots or the ac­tion of the best shots are com­pletely ac­ci­den­tal,’’ he says.

‘‘ Also, they tend to break wind a lot.’’

With his ca­reer now kick­ing into high gear, Hid­dle­ston has reprised his role as Loki for the 2012 Mar­vel film The

Avengers, which is di­rected by Joss Whe­don of TV se­ries Buffy The Vam­pire Slayer fame. ‘‘ Joss Whe­don, I re­ally take my hat off to him,’’ Hid­dle­ston says.

‘‘ He man­aged to write the tight­est, most com­pli­cated, funny, ac­tion­packed, spec­tac­u­lar screen­play I’ve ever read and then he shot it like a dream. ‘‘ It was just such a fun, easy, good- hu­moured shoot.’’

Hid­dle­ston says the char­ac­ter of Loki, the Norse God of Mis­chief,

is all the more crazy in the film about a team of su­per­heroes as­sem­bled to pro­tect the Earth from the threat of ex­trater­res­trial forces, which is set to hit Aus­tralian cin­e­mas at the end of April.

‘‘ It was sort of like see­ing an old friend, an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while and then you get to go off on an­other ad­ven­ture with him,’’ he says.

‘‘ He is al­to­gether a more malev­o­lent, more psy­chotic, more pow­er­ful and more sin­is­ter char­ac­ter and also hav­ing a lot more fun.’’

Al­though Hid­dle­ston re­mains fairly tight- lipped about the de­tails of the plot, he does re­veal that he suf­fered some ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain in his el­bow af­ter hav­ing to throw him­self on the floor for a scene with The Hulk.

‘‘ When you see the amaz­ing ac­tion se­quences be­tween dif­fer­ent su­per­heroes you know like it’s re­ally us, it’s re­ally me,’’ he says.

‘‘ That was ex­cit­ing but af­ter a while we did start to com­pare bumps and bruises.’’

Of­ten tagged as ‘‘ one to watch’’, Hid­dle­ston’s lat­est projects could very well shoot him to star sta­tus, but this doesn’t seem to have in­flated the mod­est ac­tor’s sense of self.

‘‘ I’m quite ex­cited about what’s around the cor­ner. It’s a strange thing, as ac­tors, we never quite know,’’ he says.

‘‘ When you’re liv­ing your own life you never see what it looks like from the out­side.

‘‘ I feel like I’m just at the begin­ning, I’m 30 years old and I hope that there are many, many, many more parts and roles and char­ac­ters I will play and be fun for me and hope­fully be fun for peo­ple to watch as well.’’

WAR HORSE

Now show­ing Village Cin­e­mas

‘‘ Ac­tu­ally it’s all about be­ing real and try­ing to be as au­then­tic as pos­si­ble’’

WAR HORSE ( M)

Di­rec­tor: Steven Spiel­berg ( The Ad­ven­tures of Tintin)

Stars: Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mul­lan, Emily Wat­son, Niels Are­strup, Toby Kebbell

Sad­dle up for schmaltzy ride

IF WAR Horse was a cake, it would be mar­keted with the tag ‘‘ just like Grandma used to make’’.

In this case, Grandma’s old- time apron is be­ing worn by the vet­eran Hol­ly­wood film­maker Steven Spiel­berg.

And that sug­ary, but­tery con­fec­tion be­ing lumped on to your plate?

It’s not so good for you if you swal­low the lot. Best to be picky. The most palat­able in­gre­di­ents of

War Horse can be traced back to the orig­i­nal recipe set down in a beloved chil­dren’s book writ­ten by English au­thor Michael Mor­purgo more than 20 years ago.

There is a young Bri­tish boy named Al­bert. There is a horse called Joey. There is a close bond be­tween the two. Then along comes a global con­flict to seem­ingly sever the friend­ship for ever.

Trag­i­cally, Al­bert is too young to fol­low his trea­sured steed to the muddy, bloody killing fields of Europe at the on­set of World War I.

Thank­fully, Joey is too smart, too lucky and too de­ter­mined to fall in bat­tle, lest there be the slight­est chance he will be re­united one day with his men­tor, trainer and best friend.

The sim­ple charm of Mor­purgo’s story is in­trin­si­cally linked to his choice of nar­ra­tor – the reader shares this re­mark­able ex­pe­ri­ence from the horse’s point of view.

Un­for­tu­nately, Spiel­berg dunks the best el­e­ments of the Mor­purgo book into a swampy bog of sen­ti­ment and they rarely sur­face in an iden­ti­fi­able fash­ion.

The de­ci­sion not to tell the story via Joey might have been the right one, had a strong nar­ra­tive voice been de­vel­oped in its place.

In­stead, War Horse is a cu­ri­ously dis­con­nected af­fair. The hu­man char­ac­ters are very thinly drawn, and speak as if recit­ing ex­cerpts from a fairy­tale.

As Al­bert, new­comer Jeremy Irvine cops the worst of the piece­meal script­ing. He is a fig­ure who is dif­fi­cult to re­late to, let alone em­pathise with.

Other bet­ter- cre­den­tialled ac­tors, such as Peter Mul­lan and Emily Wat­son ( play­ing Al­bert’s par­ents), also are re­duced to car­i­ca­tures while Spiel­berg ap­plies yet an­other des­per­ate ma­nip­u­la­tive squeeze on the au­di­ence. Yes, the pro­duc­tion val­ues of War

Horse are in­deed fault­less – as they al­ways are in a Spiel­berg film, and there are mo­ments of un­de­ni­able beauty, bru­tal­ity and pure feel­ing.

An astonishing se­quence where a dis­traught Joey gal­lops be­tween the Bri­tish and Ger­man front­lines – be­com­ing fur­ther en­meshed in a cru­ci­fix of barbed wire with each stride – is as icon­i­cally mes­meris­ing as any­thing Spiel­berg has ever com­mit­ted to film.

But the forced emo­tions in play for the ma­jor­ity of War Horse, as ev­i­denced by the dread­ful mu­sic score by com­poser John Wil­liams, are just too much of a mawk­ish thing.

Now show­ing Village Cin­e­mas

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