Blog: Dave LeggettTrip to the cinema, courtesy of General Motors

Dave Leggett | 25 January 2012

The War Horse and Vauxhall

The War Horse and Vauxhall's 'Prince Henry'

I caught the Steven Spielberg directed epic 'War Horse' last night at the flicks.

General Motors' UK PR people kindly invited me (thank you Denis Chick and Uta Deutsch, enjoyed the pre-movie tapas!), along with a few others, on the grounds that Vauxhall had provided some vintage cars for the movie. 

The 1911 Vauxhall C-Type “Prince Henry” ( named after Prince Henry of Prussia who sponsored early reliability trials) and 1918 Vauxhall D Type Army Staff Car both feature. The film trailer features the Prince Henry racing against the War Horse across Dartmoor. Watch the trailer here.

Denis Chick, Vauxhall Motors’ Director of Communications said: “Steven Spielberg loved the C-Type Prince Henry but due to its non-conventional controls, an expert was on hand to drive on set to master the centre-mounted throttle and outside gear changes.  Mechanics were also around 24/7 to ensure the car was always operational so that valuable filming time was not lost.  It’s great that these two cars from Vauxhall’s own museum, representing the company’s rich automotive heritage, are starring alongside such notable actors.”

The 1918 Vauxhall D-Type Army Staff Car is a development of the Prince Henry and Vauxhall built nearly 2,000 for the War Office costing GBP500 each. The D-Type was manufactured in Luton.

The movie itself? Well worth seeing. Captivating tale and it's clearly a big-budget job that is slickly executed. Great cast, great attention to period detail, wonderfully directed – as you would expect from Spielberg. The war scenes are suitably horrific (but without being very graphic). The stuff shot on Dartmoor makes that part of England look pretty beautiful and is also very well done. Is the film a little bit, well, sentimental, very obviously pressing the standard emotional buttons that Spielberg is known for adeptly doing (ET springs to mind)? Yes, but that treatment works with a story like War Horse. It isn't meant to be a docu-drama about the Great War. It's a fictional tale and ultimately a nice story (albeit with some pretty dark meanderings along the way), set in the most terrible of circumstances. It's basically right up Spielberg's creative street.

Oh, and the vintage cars played their parts very well. And so, I might add, did the horses.


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