'There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.'
Even though I live rurally, it been awhile since I had been riding. Last weekend however, an opportunity presented itself and I got back atop a horse. It was cold, almost too cold on my face, but straddling the back of the incredible brown and white mare I was riding, a flood of memories drifted through my mind.
When I was a kid, through my bedroom window, I could see the backyard of the house across the field behind our home. In that home lived only two, a dad and his 12 year old daughter. I did know at the time why their was no wife and mother in the picture but years later I found out she had died of breast cancer. The 12 year old girl, Charlotte and I were connected but not really friends. We didn't really spend any time together or talk much but we communicated through our bedroom windows by showing each other the books we were reading on many nights. This semi regular ritual led to many trades and loans of books and a few afternoons in her garage playing library (Not doctor...I know, I know...). Library sounds incredibly boring now, but at the time, pretending our books were library book the other had to 'check out' seemed like a cool way to spend a few hours.
My most vivid memories of Charlotte are of her in her backyard. Her backyard had no grass, it was just dirt and weeds. On the dirt, and amongst the weeds, Charlotte had set up jumps. There were almost 20 equestrian style jumps using picnic table benches and poles and tires just waiting for a horse to enter the arena. Problem was there was no horse. Charlotte's pain escape, besides her books, was becoming the horse and spending hours upon hours, day after day, with her hands up, together in front of her chest, trotting around her backyard, doing jump after jump until she exhausted herself. One day, without really thinking about it, after watching her out my window, I joined her. We did not speak a word that day, only the odd nod and snort. We took turns running the course, no winner, just me, temporarily entering Charlotte's fantasy world, until my mothers screech that supper was ready, jolted me from a gallop to a run.
From the little I have seen and read, War Horse as a play is a remarkable piece of theatre. As a movie, the results were hit and miss. Beautifully shot, the movie had moments of power (the fence scene), and also long flat periods. It almost seemed like Spielberg was 'putting in time' at some points to get to the predictable, yet admittedly moving, climax.
The movie was at it's best when the two leads, Jeremy Irvine and Joey were on screen together. Jeremy Irvine was a great find by Spielberg for the role. The director has a masterful track record finding young actors (Henry Thomas, Haley Joel Osment, Charlie Korsmo) to perfectly embody the magic he is creating. There is a special quality to Irvine which other directors clearly saw. The 21 year old has a slew of new roles including Pip in the newest version of Great Expectations.
'At least I galloped - when did you?'
Peter Shaffer's Equus isn't exactly... well, innocent boy on the farm loves his horse story ,but it is one of the most well known and fascinating explorations of boy & horse. With the top 3 dramatic themes, religion, sex and violence, all in place, the angst ridden Alan Strang's journey of discovery begins.
Daniel with Richard Griffiths in Equus for Vogue Magazine.
The Mexican actor is best known for his roles in telenovelas, but also appeared in Kevin Costner's film Message in a Bottle.
Lily Allen's younger brother Alfie replaced Radcliffe on the London stage in a nationwide tour.