The Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge
premiere of War Horse last week.
By Noah Kidron-Style
LONDON, England – Last week’s War Horse premiere saw Prince William and Kate Middleton welcome the film to London in aid of the Prince’s Foundation.
Stars such as Steven Spielberg, Jeremy Irvine, Michael Morpugo and of course Joey the horse converged on Leicester Square for an unusually prestigious event, with the reception held at Buckingham Palace.
For all the supposed glitz and glamour of show business, the majority of film premieres today are slightly underwhelming affairs.
After a period of multi-million-dollar parties in the 1980s, studios came to the realization that all they really needed was a picture of their biggest stars smiling on the red carpet.
The premiere itself turned into a slightly awkward ritual where everyone involved sits together in a room unable to discuss the film in any more depth than sycophantic self-congratulation for fear of insulting their collective creative achievements.
However when the War Horse rolled into London it bucked the trend, as any occasion hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – the future king and queen of England – cannot help but become quite an event.
I attended as a last minute stand-in for my stepfather Lee Hall, who co-wrote the film, as he was unfortunately detained in New York. I couldn’t help feeling that his loss was my gain – especially when meeting Spielberg, the legendary film director.
The guests were invited into a pre-film drinks reception while the stars made their way down the red carpet.
Director Steven Spielberg, Joey the horse
and actor Jeremy
Irvine at theLondon premiere of War Horse last week.
Here the canapés and champagne contrasted with the first screening I had seen of War Horse held at Disney’s corporate office, at which it was amusing to watch high-powered film producers and stars forced to drink out of Hannah Montana mugs.
Once the royal couple arrived, they were formally introduced to the cast and crew, who had received extensive instruction on how to greet the Duke and Duchess – such as to pronounce “mam” so that it rhymed with “jam,” before taking their seats for the film to begin.
Pool photographThe Dutchess of Cambridge
The admittedly partisan crowd gave the film a rapturous ovation, and Kate Middleton was one of many to cry during the emotional tale of a boy tracking down his horse on the western front of WWI. That is despite the future queen admitting to not being the greatest horse lover due to a longstanding allergy.
The attendance of royalty made it perhaps the first time that everyone at a film premier bothered to stay seated throughout the entire credits, cheering as each actor’s name appeared on screen – a nice touch of respect, if one that should happen regardless of the royal presence.
Later at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, the cast and guests assembled for speeches by Prince William and Spielberg.
In a grand room decorated by large and rather impressive photographs of the making of War Horse, the esteemed hosts spoke of the significance of the armed forces, of whom more than 600 had attended the premiere in full regalia.
Guests who were chosen to have a meet and greet with the royals were allocated a table at which to wait, while the Duke and Duchess toured the room with the efficiency of a handshaking assembly line.
As the Dutchess, who appears somewhat taller in real life, drew closer a team of servers swarmed around to clear away any debris of any offending food or drink.
She was charming and polite to all comers, and slightly embarrassed at the haste with which she had to move on. Plus most importantly, I remembered to rhyme “mam” with “jam.”
The War Horse premiere was a throwback to a glamorous era and in this sense mirrored the film itself.
Bold, spectacular, old fashioned and faintly ridiculous, you just had to suspend your disbelief and enjoy the ride.