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Page last updated at 08:41 GMT, Tuesday, 3 August 2010 09:41 UK
Spielberg brings Hollywood to Dartmoor
By Jemima Laing
BBC Devon

Michael Morpurgo - Richard Canon
Michael Morpurgo's book War Horse was first published in 1982

Steven Spielberg has arrived on location on Dartmoor to film scenes for his latest movie.

The Hollywood director has been spotted in the national park, filming scenes for War Horse, written by Devon author Michael Morpurgo.

War Horse was published in 1982 and has been a huge success as a book and play.

The former Children's Laureate describes the fact that Spielberg is making his book into a film as "amazing".

Steven Spielberg on Dartmoor
Steven Spielberg behind the camera on Dartmoor

It is the story of Devon farm horse, Joey, who is sent to France at the outbreak of WWI.

It is currently enjoying great success on the London stage and will soon be transferring to Broadway.

And it is now to become a film, directed by the legendary Spielberg.

On 2 August, the Hollywood director was on Dartmoor filming some of the scenes.

And this image, captured on mobile phone, shows Spielberg behind the camera.

For the author, there is no better director to transfer his story to the big screen.

"I have a great deal of hope and a great deal of belief that Steven Spielberg can pull this off and make an iconic film about the First World War," said Michael, who has written more than 100 books - his latest being Not Bad for a Bad Lad.

"It is difficult though for him, as there is some affection for the book, and huge enthusiasm for the play and it will not be easy for him to create a film when everyone has such high expectations, but if anyone can do it, he can."

War Horse
The play War Horse is transferring to Broadway in 2011

Michael says he has not been closely involved with the production of the film, but did meet with Spielberg and the producer Kathleen Kennedy at the start of the project.

"They have sent me scripts from time to time for my comments, and I hope to be able to visit the set on location so that I can keep in touch with how the production is going.

"I am conscious of the fact that I am a book writer, not a film-maker.

"What we have in common is that we are both storytellers, but he is the one that knows best how to do it on screen.

"In a sense, I have handed over my story to him to interpret as he wishes and have done that because I have great faith in his genius as a film-maker."

Rumours have been growing in recent weeks that Spielberg would be shooting parts of the film on Dartmoor this summer.

Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg is transferring the book to the big screen

So does Michael know if his village of Iddesleigh - where the book begins - will be one of the filming sites?

"So far as I know, Iddesleigh is not going to be one of the locations, which is fine.

"It is a very small place and it would be very disruptive to the people living there.

"I do hope to travel to wherever they are shooting it and sit in one of those chairs and put on the right hat and sunglasses!

"I will insist on having a megaphone…"

'Anthem for peace'

The story has a very strong message, indeed Michael has described it as "an anthem for peace".

So for many the film will be their first introduction to the tale, so what does he hope audiences will take from seeing it?

"The understanding that in all wars it is the young and vulnerable who suffer most.

I am confident that Steven Spielberg will do a wonderful job
Michael Morpurgo

"That suffering is universal, as is the loss and grief no matter which side you happen to be on.

"It is important for every generation to comprehend the dreadfulness of going to war, the appalling consequences and what Wilfred Owen called 'the futility of it.'

"As a means of solving our problems, it is futile, yet we continue to do it."

It must be every writer's dream for Spielberg to come knocking, a Hollywood ending of his very own - is that how he feels?

"Yes, it's amazing.

"I am confident that Steven Spielberg will do a wonderful job.

"What is extraordinary is his range of interests and ability - anyone who can make a cinematic triumph of both ET and Schindler's List can do wonders with War Horse."

Morpurgo welcomes book technology
14 Jul 10 |  Entertainment & Arts
War Horse play gets Broadway run
19 Feb 10 |  Arts & Culture
Spielberg names War Horse actors
18 Jun 10 |  Entertainment & Arts



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