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Making War Horse

A National Theatre and Seventh Art Production

Year: 2009, 48 mins
Code: SEV-MakingPt1

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Making War Horse is the story of how Michael Morpurgo’s award-winning and captivating children’s novel, War Horse, became one of the most popular and acclaimed productions in the National Theatre’s history.

From its early development in the NT Studio, see how Handspring Puppet Company created the groundbreaking techniques that brought a lifelike horse to the stage. Behind the scenes and into the rehearsal room, featuring interviews with the cast and creative team, Making War Horse documents this unique theatrical collaboration and the creation of a stage classic. Produced by the National’s Digital Media Unit, Making War Horse shows how Michael Morpurgo’s book transferred from page to the stage hit which is still playing in London’s West End and capturing the hearts of everyone who sees it.

Phil Grabsky and David Bickerstaff were invited by the National Theatre to film the intricate process of putting on the production. With exclusive access to the actors who work these extraordinary life-sized puppets, we learn exactly how the Handspring Puppet Company make these animals come to life. Throughout the film, Michael Morpurgo gives us candid insights into his inspiration for this production as we film him at home in Devon, the location from which he drew inspiration for his novel.

This film is more than just a behind-the-scenes documentary: it is visually stunning, and brings the magic of puppetry to the big screen. Phil Grabsky and David Bickerstaff’s filming style is poetic and delves beyond the surface, revealing the passion and determination involved in making the theatrical production the success that it is.

“If you’re not usually convinced by the magic of the theatre, this might just change your mind”
- Radio Times

“The National Theatre’s production of War Horse has been one of the most garlanded productions of recent times, acclaimed for its audacious and astonishing use of the lifesize puppets of the South African Handspring company. This behind-the-scenes documentary, first screened last year, is scarcely less extraordinary, illuminating the people and the processes involved”
- The Guardian

“Illuminating… A marvellous start to More4’s new Saturday night arts strand”
-  Guardian

“If you’ve seen this remarkable show, it will enhance your appreciation; and even if you haven’t, for anyone interested in theatre – especially the art of puppetry – it’s a fascinating journey into the creative process, in the company of cast and crew, from initial inspiration to workshops to final staging….Marvelous.” - What’s on Stage

“This wonderful film displays the wonders and the enduring legacy of creative collaboration at its most inspired.”
- Educational Media Reviews Online

“Fascinating…Insightful…riveting” - Newsday.com

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