Steven Spielberg is thrilled with the 10 Oscar nominations he’s bagged for Help (2011) and War Horse (2011). But an even bigger high for the Hollywood filmmaker is that for the first time he has two Best Picture nominations in the same year.
“One is an high honour, two are humbling, but exciting. It is a tribute to all those who joined hands with Stacey Snider and the DreamWorks Studios team on these two films, developed from stories that we passionately felt we had to make,” says Spielberg.
War Horse, that was released abroad four days after his Adventures Of Tintin (2011) on Christmas Day, opens in India this Friday, and expectations are sky-high given its six Oscar nominations this year.
Based on Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel, it’s a story of friendship between a British boy and his horse, Joey, before and during World War I. Quiz the director on his most difficult scene and he admits it’s the one where Jodi and the German soldier are trying to free Joey. “It’s hard to get a horse to kneel down on its forelegs and its back legs, and then get up from that position. We had little time to get those shots but every time we wanted Joey to get up, it did. The horse and the actors patiently waited for the 15-20 seconds that it would take,” he says.
Spielberg reportedly shot with 14 horses and is all praise for Bobby Lovgren, their horse whisperer who understood how to connect with his team of gentle souls. “I was hoping we would be able to get all that I had visualised, but honestly I didn’t think we could since it had never been attempted in the film,” he admits. He storyboarded the entire film so the trainers could tell him what was possible and what no animal could do. He gave them three-four months and was amazed that 85 per cent of the time, they came back saying that what he wanted could be done the humanitarian way.
Says Spielberg, “I directed the horses through our horse whisperers. Did I take a horse by the reins and go off to a quiet place to have a conversation with it? No, not once. Did the horses sometimes miss their mark and step out of their key light? Yes. But eventually, it all worked out perfectly.”
From horses it’s back to dinosaurs, what’s the status quo on Jurassic Park 4? He says, “It’s too early to talk about that, besides I’m only producing it, not directing it.”