After shooting the motion-capture picture "The Adventures of Tin-Tin: The Secret of the Unicorn," which has a long post-production process, Steven Spielberg has been debating what to direct next. After considering a biopic about George Gershwin and the Sci-Fi thriller "Robopocalypse," the cinema icon has finally decided to return to the front with "War Horse."
Originally published in 1982, Michael Morpurgo's novel about a young boy and a horse whose lives intertwine through the course of World War I actually caught Spielberg's eye as a stage play. The acclaimed and hit West End adaptation by Nick Stafford convinced Spielberg and DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snider to acquire the property as one of their first post-Paramount project last fall.
The films features a number of thematic elements that Spielberg fans will recognize. The young boy against a dramatic and oppressive backdrop was a key element of "E.T.," "Empire of the Sun" and "Artificial Intelligence: A.I." And, obviously, War has been the setting for "1941," "Empire," "Saving Private Ryan," all four "Indiana Jones" movies and "Schindler's List." However, this is the first time he's tackled the "Great War."
While the subject matter is about a boy's journey to reclaim his horse, it will find our hero in the middle of No Man's land, the area between the German and allied trenches were the war painfully dragged on for years. It is very reminiscent of Spielberg's work in "Empire" where a young Christian Bale witnessed the devastation of WW II on mainland China and his realistic depiction of the invasion of Normandy in "Private Ryan." And whether the filmmaker wants it or not, it will make the project prime awards season material.
The filmmaker was last nominated for Best Director in 2006 for "Munich." The film is also his last to receive a Best Picture nod. Spielberg's has won three Oscars, the last for directing "Saving Private Ryan" in 1999.
According to Variety, the film will hit theaters on August 10, 2011. Surprisingly, that's actually four months before "Tin-Tin" hits theaters on Dec. 23, 2011.
Needless to say, "War Horse" will be one to watch.
For the latest entertainment commentary and breaking news year round, follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter @HitFixGregory .