Hundreds of Portsmouth children get first look at new Spielberg movie hit

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ALMOST 300 primary schoolchildren were treated to a special preview screening of the highly-anticipated World War One drama War Horse.

The youngsters were given the day off school to see Stephen Spielberg’s film adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s novel about a boy whose beloved horse is sold to the army, at Action Stations in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard yesterday.

HISTORY LESSON British soldiers Holly Johnstone, Charlotte Newell, Will Beasley, with German soldiers Jack Rann and Sam Gratton learn about life in the trenches before War Horse.  Picture: Allan Hutchings (120073-421)

HISTORY LESSON British soldiers Holly Johnstone, Charlotte Newell, Will Beasley, with German soldiers Jack Rann and Sam Gratton learn about life in the trenches before War Horse. Picture: Allan Hutchings (120073-421)

Many of them had already read the book or seen the hit play version with wooden puppets – but nothing could match the sense of excitement at catching this year’s most talked-about film days ahead of its release.

Charlotte Newell, 10, from Highbury Primary in Cosham, said: ‘The film was amazing. I found it very emotional, especially at the end.

‘The special effects were incredible.’

Tom Shaw, 13, a student at St Edmund’s Catholic School in Landport, said: ‘I enjoyed it.

MOVIE Actor Jeremy Irvine stars in War Horse

MOVIE Actor Jeremy Irvine stars in War Horse

‘Rather than thinking about the war it makes you think about war through the lives of people and animals involved in it.

‘I’ve been to the theatre performance which was quite abstract, especially the fighting scenes, so it was interesting to see a more realistic adaptation of the book.

‘My parents are planning to go to the cinema next week so I’ll have to be careful not to give too much away.’

Bradley Jeffery, 10, from Titchfield Primary, added: ‘The film was amazing and I feel special to have seen it in advance.

‘The best part for me was the incredible bond between the horse and the owner.

‘I’m halfway through the book and now I’m looking forward to finishing it.

‘It’s nice to learn about history through a great story. It’s made it a lot more interesting for me.’

Actors in wartime uniforms chaperoned the children, who rounded off the film with a range of workshops including writing war poetry and film reviews, designing posters, handling war uniforms, equipment and weapons and studying Morse code.

Nick Hewitt, head of attractions and collections at Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust, said: ‘It was a brilliant day.

‘We’ve had children coming out of the film and immediately handling artefacts from the war.

‘That’s a pretty powerful learning tool.’