Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis
Plot: Set before and during World War I, it tells of the journey of Joey, a bay Thoroughbred horse raised by British teenager Albert (Irvine), as he is bought by the British Army, leading him to encounter numerous individuals and owners throughout Europe, all the while experiencing the tragedies of the war happening around him.
Director Steven Spielberg stated that the only digital effects used in the movie were three shots that lasted three seconds, and it was done to ensure the safety of the horse involved. Spielberg was quoted as saying, "That's the thing I'm most proud of. Everything you see on screen really happened."
When Joey is trapped in barbed wire, the wire used was rubber prop wire when a real horse was used. Part of the filming of this sequence utilized an animatronic horse.
Fourteen horses played Joey during the movie. The main acting horse in the film, Finder's Key, also portrayed Seabiscuit (2003) in the eponymous movie about the famous racehorse.
Lead actor Jeremy Irvine had never ridden a horse prior to being cast in this film, and this was his very first feature film.
Jeremy Irvine, who played Albert Narracott, contracted trench foot when filming the war scenes of the movie.
The film is based on both a children's novel of the same name set during World War I, by Michael Morpurgo, first published in the United Kingdom in 1982
This was Steven Spielberg's first film to be edited digitally. He has famously held onto editing traditionally; his editor, Michael Kahn, has edited nearly all of Spielberg's films on a Moviola. After this the two swore off digital editing once again in favor of analog flatbed editing, stating that digital editing rushed their creative process too much.
Steven Spielberg confessed in an interview that he almost drowned in the mud inside the trenches during the shooting. He was rescued by the crew.
Michael Morpurgo, the author of the source book is seen standing next to David Thewlis during the auction scene at the beginning of the movie. Morpurgo's wife Clare is also seen in the film.
Tom Hiddleston recalled director Steven Spielberg giving him "the most amazing" director's note for his death scene. "Spielberg told Hiddleston, "Give me your war face, and the camera's going to move across, and as you feel it come up in front of you, I want you to de-age yourself by twenty years. So you're 29, and when you see those machine guns, you're 9 years old. I want to see the child in you." Huddleston said, "I just thought that was one of the most astonishing acting notes I'd ever been given."
Robert Emms, who had played the lead role of Albert Narracott in the West End stage production of the play, was cast in this film in a different part, as David Lyons.