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Posts Tagged ‘cavalry’

War Horse – A Cowboy’s View

Posted on: January 8th, 2012 by R.W. Hampton 15 Comments

 

War Horse Movie PosterWell, it’s not often that I see a movie worth commenting on, much less recommending, but the family and I drove about 200 miles round trip the other night to go see War Horse and it was well worth it.  My wife and eleven yr old are studying WWI currently in his home-school studies and had just read the book so it didn’t take much to convince us all to load up for the trip. I think I can say without reservation, the whole family enjoyed it as much as I did.  (*note to parents – it is rated PG 13)

Now hoss folks, take note; yes, you will notice that they use about six different horses to depict the equine star “Joey”.  This is common in movies and forgivable. I’ve done quite a few movies with horses and it’s almost impossible to find one horse that can pull off all the gags, so doubles must be used. 

As a ranch hand/cowboy it would be easy for some scenes to be perceived as corny but what the heck, Roy & Gene’s horses came when they whistledJoey and Albert too. We must also forgive some of the more ignorant tack and equipment idiosyncrasies that happen on almost all horse movies. On the other hand, I was impressed that they used a true to the story “European looking” Thoroughbreds and not an Americanized Quarter Horses (which are often preferred for work with on movie sets because of calmer temperaments). 

Part of the intrigue to me is that this movie follows the life of a horse born to a farm family in rural England, it moves through a boy’s youth and then with the horse into service in France during World War I. 

The countryside scenes are breathtaking and the battle scenes are graphic, intense, realistic but not gruesome or gory.  

I found it facinating that it was a war movie where there were no “good guys vs bad guys” sides taken as the horse ends up on both the English and the German’s front lines, because, as the author puts it in the book, everyone loves and respects a good horse.

It is obvious that horses of all types play a vital role in Europe during the period of time depicted in War Horse, but while the horse still played a role in warfare; tanks,War Horse Scene machine guns, trucks and airplanes were being used to full advantage also. Through the film it is easy to visualize that this is a turning point in history.

Favorite Scene:

There are many fine and exceptional moments in War Horse but this one got me, (as well as many other people, my wife tells me).  The location is a devastated apocalyptic stretch of land between the English and German trenches called “No Man’s Land”. The fighting has been long and fierce, the men are impeded in miserable trenches and the conditions can be described as cruel. Yet thru the smoke of this living hell both sides notice a lone horse badly tangled in the razor wire.  Touched by his plight white flags go up from both sides and we watch as the fighting stops in the eiry quiet as two soldiers climb out of their respective trenches and work their way towards the trapped animal and towards each other. Both men meet and after some discussion go to work together, enemies joining forces to free an injured animal out of love for a good horse. The irony is that upon accomplishing their goal they must shake hands and return their separate ways and once back to the relative safety of their trenches their brutal fighting must resume.

Now, if that doesn’t get to you, ya better check your pulse!

If you like big, old fashioned epic sagas like the Searchers or the Quiet Man, your gonna love War Horse. This movie, the story, and its cinematography harkens back to the work of Ford & Selsnick. Every frame is stunning and creates a spectacular backdrop for an amazing story. 

I hope you enjoy it and if you’ve seen it or read the book already tell us what you thought.  I’d also love to know, what is your all-time favorite horse movie?

 

Heart Value

Posted on: May 25th, 2010 by R.W. Hampton 4 Comments

There are things and then there are things. You know, you may own a rare one-of-a-kind something or other, but it doesn’t come close to meaning as much as, say, that first love letter from your kids’ mama so long ago. I guess you could say these things may have no dollar value, but they are priceless when it comes to heart value.

I should know. I keep an old box full of ticket stubs, photos, hospital bracelets, rodeo posters, old passports, baby blankets, Valentine’s Day cards, and a letter from Iraq. You get the idea: all junk to anyone else, but not to me. They are my tangible links to the past.

So while we’re taking this tour of the heart treasures, let me direct your attention over here to this corner of the room. Yes, I know, you’d have missed it if I hadn’t pointed it out. It don’t look like much, but if this house caught on fire, it would be one of the first things I’d grab to save from the flames.

I grew up playing in this old rocker. It always sat in the corner, and when I’d climb into it and get a little wild with my rocking, someone invariably would say something like, “Pull that confounded thing out away from the wall, it ain’t no carnival ride.” 

My guess is that my Dad and Grandpa got the same scolding.

The first owner of this chair was my great grandfather, Calvin Wade Hampton. He was born in the 1870s, and although I’ve got a picture of me and ol’ Calvin from when I was a baby, I never knew him. It may sound funny, but although I never really knew him, I’ve always sorta missed him, so this old rocking chair is my tangible link to him.

Calvin, or C.W., was a horse and mule trader and we both share Wade as our middle name. Family legend says he was a good part Cherokee and he looked it. It’s also told that he and an older son drove some decommissioned cavalry ponies to Alberta to sell to the Mounties up there! Did he plan this adventure while sitting in this chair?

This piece of furniture is stained dark brown – almost black – but the arm rests are worn to a light natural color. The ends of the arm rests are polished smooth and bare from the fists that have clutched them over the years. Come to think of it, I do that, too, when I’m stewing over something. Is this an inherited trait?

When I take a seat in this rocking chair, I take comfort in knowing I’m sitting in a place where three generations of Hampton men before me have sat, read newspapers, and thought. It’s one of my favorite places to take my first swig of morning coffee. Right now, I’m writing this by pencil on a yellow legal pad and sitting – you guessed it! – in my old rocking chair.  As soon as I’m done, I know my 3 year old son, Ethan, will want to climb up here and rock. When he does, I will say, without even thinking, “Son, pull that confounded thing out from the wall, it ain’t no carnival ride.”

Ah, some things never change. Maybe someday, in the dim and distant tomorrow, future generations of Hamptons will use this old rocking chair as their “tangible link to the past,” and it will remain as something of great heart value.

What are your things of great heart value?