Saturday, 31 December 2011

Any excuse...

Model wearing Princess Leia gold bikini costume on a Wampa rug.  Nice.
What a way to end 2011.  Happy 2012 everyone
Recently, word has been spread around that Warner Brothers has renewed the domain name for Gremlins3.com along with a bunch of other rumored sequels like Green Lantern 2 and The Hangover 3. Now, this doesn’t mean for sure that the film will be put into production but the rumor of the development of a third film has been floating around since 1999. Last year, original series director, Joe Dante, commented that he would not return for a 3rd installment after his fallout with the studio but believes that they will do something with the property sometime soon.
I’m constantly asked ‘why the hold up on Gremlins 3? And that’s because those films were such products of the technology at the time. The movie was more limited and created by technology. They were puppets. The story-lines, then, were based around what we could do with the Gremlins. Now, of course, anything is possible but it becomes a little more difficult to hone it on what your storyline would be. First of all, I won’t be asked. Second of all, I wouldn’t bring back the original cast because it’s been too long – the kids now would be familiar with the title, and familiar with Gizmo and Stripe, but as far as the actual [live-action] characters and story, they don’t know them..



Read more about Gremlins 3 rumours over at http://nerdreactor.com/2011/12/28/gremlins-3-in-the-works/

Steven Spielberg's new film "War Horse" is almost deliberately old-fashioned, pitting noble beast against the horrors of war, with sweeping, emotional set pieces ? and dividing critics as Hollywood's awards season looms.
The movie, which got a Golden Globe nomination this month ahead of its Christmas Day release in the United States, is even made on good old celluloid in a snub to the digital revolution.
"I think that movies like that don't get made much any more, you know the kind of epic sweeping historical drama that were used to be made quite a bit 30, 40 years ago," producer Kathleen Kennedy told AFP.
"It's what makes the movie a little old-fashioned but at the same time modern," she added.
The movie tells the story of Joey, a horse raised in a bucolic English countryside who is torn away from his home ? and stable lad Albert ? and sent to France to the battlefields of World War I.
To a soundtrack heavy on violins, the moviegoer is swept into the epic struggle Albert has in finding his equine partner amid the blood, mud and misery of the Great War.
"World War I was the last hurrah for the horse (in) warfare," three-times Oscar winner Spielberg ? who also has his 3D "Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn" out for the holidays ? told industry daily Variety.
"It was a time when the technological revolution, mainly in the implementation of new technologies to kill more efficiently and more cruelly, were supplanting the usefulness of the horse, which had brought terror into the hearts of standing armies for centuries," Spielberg said.
"And after World War I, that was over and the horse went back to a more bucolic and sane way of life. So it's really more of a story about courage and connections and less of a story about combat."
"War Horse," which is on the shortlist for the best dramatic film Golden Globe, is based on a 1982 children's book of the same name by British writer Michael Morpurgo, and the play adapted for the stage by Nick Stafford.
Almost two years ago, Kennedy was on vacation in London and went see the stage version of the story with her daughters.
"When I got home I talked to Steven (Spielberg) about it and told him what the play was about and he said 'Wow, that sounds like a story, it would make a wonderful movie'," she told AFP.
The most difficult thing, said the producer ? who worked with Spielberg on classic movies including ""E.T," "Indiana Jones" and "Schindler's List," was the use of "so many animals," she said.
"Whenever you are using animals in a movie you have to take extraordinary care, I mean, you do that to the people as well, but when you have innocent animals, it requires that everybody involved being specially careful."
Joey, the real hero of the movie, was played by around a dozen horses from all from around the world, notably Spain. Stable boy Albert is played by 21-year-old British actor Jeremy Irvine, who had previously only worked in TV.
"Steven felt that he wanted to make a discovery, he wanted to bring a young actor to the role who hadn't necessarily done a lot of things in the movies," said Kennedy.
Most critics so far have been broadly positive, although some have questioned Spielberg's approach, like the Guardian's newspaper critic Andrew Pulver, who said the director "can't seem to snap out of a now-habitual mode of vitality-erasing, dewy-eyed affectation."
Todd McCarthy of the Hollywood Reporter said the film "possesses a simplicity that is both its greatest strength and an ultimate liability.
"Whatever its missteps, this is a film that kids, middle-aged adults and grandparents can all see ? together or separately ? and get something out of in their own ways," he wrote.
"There are precious few films that fit this description today, and hats off to Spielberg for making one."

http://news.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Showbiz/Story/A1Story20111227-318357.html

Friday, 30 December 2011

Head over to http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF8924087058A8F0C&feature=plcp where there is a whole playlist for all the music from Monkey Island.  Well worth a look.  Heres a sample of what's on offer.  Don't forget to join The Bearded Trio on Twitter and Facebook to keep up  to date daily on all the latest on Spielberg, John Williams, George Lucas and much much more.



Today’s flavor of Twitter rumor was reported by GameInformer and involves the possibility of developer Spark Unlimited working on Star Wars: Battlefront 3. However, while gamers have been pining for a new Star Wars: Battlefront ever since the last one was released in 2005, the force of credibility isn’t strong with this one.
Any reason for suspecting something is twofold. First, a listing appeared in the job section of Spark Unlimited’s website stating, “We are in production on an unannounced high-profile, popular game sequel for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC release.” And then there’s the fact that when asked on Twitter about a possible Star Wars: Battlefront 3 title, according to Gameinformer, Spark is referring those inquiries to Lucas Arts as opposed to denying them.
Of course, if a Battlefront 3 title was ever to enter prodcution, someone new would have to be developing it, as the series’ original developer, Pandemic Studios, closed its doors in 2009. That said, Spark Unlimited’s resume is still rather short, having only devleoped Call of Duty: Finest Hour, Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, and Legendary. Such high-profile involvement with what would be new territory for them would definitely come as a surprise.
In any case, we’re approaching the best time for new game announcements as companies gear up for the next holiday season, so don’t expect this to be the last instance of speculation from Twitter or any other source.

http://stickskills.com/2011/12/29/twitter-gives-birth-to-star-wars-battlefront-3-rumors/

Thursday, 29 December 2011

 The Electric Playground visit ILM...

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Films in order of appearance:
1975 Jaws
1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark
1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
2008 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
1982 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
2002 Minority Report
2005 Munich
2002 Catch Me if You Can
1993 Jurassic Park
2005 War of the Worlds
2011 The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn
1986 The Color Purple
1997 Amistad
1987 Empire of the Sun
1993 Schindler's List
1997 The Lost World Jurassic Park
1998 Saving Private Ryan
2001 A.I. Artificial Intelligence
1991 Hook
1979 1941
2005 War of the worlds (again)



To rent a whole host of Spielberg classics visit our friends at LOVEFiLM, LOVEFiLM have a huge library on dvd, blu-ray and also available online. Sign up today at http://www.lovefilm.com/ for a 2 week free trial

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

 Jaws (1975) as Amity Point Lifestation Worker (voice)
The Blues Brothers (1980) as Cook County Assessor's Office Clerk
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) as Tourist at Airport
Gremlins (1984) as Man in Electric Wheelchair
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) as Popcorn-Eating Man
Men in Black (1997) as Alien on TV Monitors
Vanilla Sky (2001) as Guest at Party
Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) as Himself
Paul (2011) as Himself (voice)

Monday, 26 December 2011

Over a million gamers worldwide celebrated the holidays in front of their PCs with lightsabers, Sith lords and Jedi knights as BioWare™, a Label of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA), continued to see an unprecedented amount of player engagement for Star Wars™: The Old Republic™. Over this past weekend, players continued to flood the servers of the fastest-growing subscription MMO in history, immersing themselves in the game for over 5.5 million hours. Star Wars: The Old Republic is also proving to be a critical smash hit, with an average review score of 88*, making it the highest rated MMO of 2011, while also winning over 105 industry awards, including "Best Multiplayer Game of 2011" from MSNBC. Enthusiasm for The Old Republic has also gone viral, as over 1.6 million fans have viewed the Jedi vs. Sith Freeze Mob in Times Square on launch day, making it one of the most viewed videos on YouTube during this past weekend. The Old Republic has been lauded for bringing innovation to the MMO genre by adding fully voiced characters and placing a true emphasis on story and player choice. These new innovations, combined with highly polished gameplay and a smooth service, have led to a number of incredible gameplay achievements from the rabid community, including:
  • Over 60 million in-game hours — roughly equivalent to watching all six Star Wars movies over 4 million times
  • Over 850,000 Sith Warriors and over 810,000 Jedi Knights created
  • Over 260 million quests completed
  • Over 44 million PvP battles
  • Over 9 million space combat missions completed
  • Over 3 billion NPCs killed
Star Wars: The Old Republic is set thousands of years before the classic Star Wars movies, with the Galactic Republic and Sith Empire locked in the middle of an epic, galactic war. Players choose one of eight iconic Star Wars characters, including the Jedi Knight, Jedi Consular, Smuggler, Trooper, Sith Warrior, Sith Inquisitor, Bounty Hunter and Imperial Agent, becoming the hero or villain of their own personal Star Wars saga. Players will team up with friends online, fighting in heroic battles reminiscent of the films, immersing themselves in a galaxy full of vibrant characters and planets, while experiencing visceral Star Wars combat.
Included with the purchase of every copy of Star Wars: The Old Republic is 30 days of access to the game, after which players can continue to play through subscribing** at either $14.99 per month, $41.97 for 3 months ($13.99 per month), or $77.94 for six months ($12.99 per month). For more information on Star Wars: The Old Republic, please visit www.StarWarsTheOldRepublic.com, follow the game on Twitter® at http://twitter.com/swtor or "Like" Star Wars: The Old Republic on Facebook® at http://facebook.com/starwarstheoldrepublic.
* According to Metacritic.com as of December 25, 2011.
* Subscription pricing in the United Kingdom is £8.99 per month, £25.17 for three months (£8.39 per month) or £46.14 for six months (£7.69 per month). Subscription pricing in Europe is €12.99 per month, €35.97 for three months (€11.99 per month) or €65.94 for six months (€10.99 per month).

BioWare says it understands its debut MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic will "live or die" on its post-release content - and it has "aggressive plans".
Click to view larger image
Speaking to CVG ahead of next week's official launch, senior writer Alex Freed acknowledge the developer needs to be "continuously refreshing" the game and addressing player concers. "I can't talk about specifics for post-release content. I can say yes, there are many people working on that content - MMOs live or die based on adding new content, refining old systems, adding new ones - all of that," he said.
"BioWare understands that - we're not doing a single-player game where we put it out in the market and then just be happy that it's out there.
"We need to be continuously refreshing the game and inviting in people who may think that they've seen it all and addressing player concerns. We've got aggressive plans but at the moment I can't reveal details because we just need to get the game."
Looking further into the future, the BioWare writer confirmed he's had "lengthy discussions on the short-term and the long-term future of the storyline of the game."
He said: "For obvious reasons I'm not going to say what those are and we always try to leave some flexibility there - it's not as if we've got a detailed five or ten-year plan of 'this is what's going to happen at every stage of the story'. But we certainly have ideas of where we want to go."

http://www.computerandvideogames.com/329999/old-republic-will-live-or-die-on-future-content-admits-bioware/

Sunday, 25 December 2011

 Settle back on Christmas day.  let that turkey digest, pour yourself a nice afternoon drink and watch a traditional family movie.  Why not make it a Star Wars movie so here to make your Christmas day complete is a forgotten gem...

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE BEARDED TRIO. 

On the forest moon of Endor, the Towani family nearly completed repairs of their ship and prepare to leave. Ewok village is attacked by a group of sanyassan marauders led by Terak and datohomirian witch Charal. Most of Towanis were killed. Cindel and rest of the villige were taken by sanyassan slavers. She and Wicket escaped to meet hermit Noa and his speedy creature Teek. Our team must infiltrate marauders castle to free captured ewoks and retake power cell from Towani's starship...

 PART 1



PART 2



PART 3

Thought I would share with you some of the great geeky pressies I received from my wonderful wife this year.


T-Rex from Jurassic Park Collectors Blu Ray Box set

Jurassic Park Collectors Blu Ray box set

Jaws.  Memories From Martha's Vineyard

Can anyone guess what movie this T-shirt is from?

Various items for my collection


The Empire Strikes Back featured Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda, better known for his work on The Muppet Show as Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggie. After the film was released, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels and Peter Mayhew appeared on The Muppet Show in their respective roles, along with a remote controlled R2-D2. They were looking for Dirk Nader (Who? No one may ever know - unless you watch this programme!!)

 PART 1


PART 2



star wars storm trooper christmas

Vader playing golf







Chewie did it again...



Vader in Sports Car

Stormtrooper in Sports Car

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Star Wars: The Old Republic launched this week.
The Force, it seems, was with Electronic Arts Inc. this week when the company launched its most ambitious game ever, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
The Redwood City, Calif., game publisher said Friday that more than 1 million players have bought the game and jumped online to play since its release to a small group of customers Dec. 13 and to the wider public last Tuesday. Each player spent an average of five hours a day playing the game, according to EA.
So many players piled into the online game that the company's computers at times became overloaded, with people complaining about long waits to be able to play. The game's Twitter feed has been a stream of apologies to players who had technical problems or delays.
But people still logged 28 million hours in total playing time in the last 10 days, exploring the far, far away galaxy and creating avatars, including Sith lords and Jedi knights. (Sith lords, in case you're curious, are slightly more popular among players, outnumbering their goody-two-shoes counterparts 550,000 to 510,000.)
Although the early signs are good, EA knows that if its colossal investment in the game is to pay off, it needs to keep longer-term goals in focus. Buyers have spent $60 to $140 for each copy of the game, but they have 30 days of free online access before they must decide whether it's worth the $15 monthly subscription fee to continue playing.
In other words, no one playing Star Wars has yet sprung for the monthly subscription that makes this type of game -- dubbed massively multiplayer online games, or MMOs -- massively profitable.
In addition, EA has been deliberately throttling the number of copies of the game it sells, gradually doling out more to retailers, in order to minimize an onslaught on its computer servers that could cause more epic technical problems.
It could be months before the game's performance can be adequately measured.
Still, EA said in a statement that it managed to pull off "the fastest-growing subscription MMO in the history of our industry."
To which we offer the same advice Luke Skywalker and his fellow Y-Wing pilots received as they sought to blow up the Death Star: Stay on target.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2011/12/star-wars-the-old-republic-game.html
Steven Spielberg is keen to post-convert his classic dinosaur movie 'Jurassic Park' into a 3-D romp.

Steven Spielberg wants to convert 'Jurassic Park' into 3-D.

The acclaimed director admits he is a huge fan of the technique in movies - following on from the work of his friend James Cameron on 'Avatar', which became the biggest film of all time after its release - and he would love to turn his dinosaur classic into a 3-D venture.

He told MTV News: "I've always said 'Jurassic Park', the first one, would be really good post-converted in 3-D.

"I think James Cameron has done the greatest 3-D in history with 'Avatar'. I figure James is going to teach all of us a lesson.

"If we follow his precepts, more films will be post-converted, but the only movie I'm interested in post-converting is the first 'Jurassic'."

Steven - who is currently promoting 'War Horse' with Tom Hiddleston - has previously worked on 3-D project 'The Adventures of TinTin', based on the Belgian cartoon of the same name.

To rent a whole host of Spielberg classics visit our friends at LOVEFiLM, LOVEFiLM have a huge library on dvd, blu-ray and also available online. Sign up today at http://www.lovefilm.com/ for a 2 week free trial

Friday, 23 December 2011

 Its not the X Factor winner but hey its Star Wars X Factor (I would rather watch this any day)

STEVEN Spielberg won’t make another E.T or Jaws movie.
The movie mogul says his past classics will stay in his back catalogue and he is resisting calls him to add to the wave of 3-D re-releases.
“I’m so busy looking ahead to all the movies I’m about to make, I can’t even imagine looking back and wanting to go back to something that happened a long time ago. I have no movies I’d like to re-do,” says the Oscar winning director.
“The only movie that I would ever even consider retrofitting is the first Jurassic Park, which I think would look pretty spectacular in 3-D.”

See Spielberg directing on the Jurassic Park set. http://www.thebeardedtrio.com/2011/12/spielberg-directing-on-set-of-jurassic.html

Thursday, 22 December 2011

After years of development and hype, Star Wars: The Old Republic has launched worldwide. While Star Wars and BioWare seem like a natural fit after their work on Knights of the Old Republic, the truth is that the developer considered several other ideas for an MMO.

Director James Ohlen told PC Gamer that while the negotiations were underway between BioWare and Lucas Arts over the Star Wars license, the development team was batting around a few other MMO concepts.

"We had backup plans," said Ohlen. "In all the design team was like three of us at that point, in total. So we were looking at doing a Lord of the Rings MMO, a Silmarillion MMO, a kind of a Gunslinger-esque Dark Tower MMO, a Game of Thrones MMO."

Ohlen added that every setting had different strengths. Star Wars won out because of, again, the KOTOR connection.

"We had an in-built fanbase with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic," Ohlen said. "In fact, when you ask our fans 'what kind of MMO would you like us to build?' they almost always say 'how about Knights of the Old Republic massively multiplayer game?'"

Ohlen doesn't mention whether they considering making an MMO based on an all-new license. However, given the price of developing an MMO - Old Republic is said to be the most expensive ever made - I can see why developers would rather base their game around an existing brand.

http://www.cinemablend.com/games/BioWare-Considered-Game-Thrones-Lord-Rings-MMO-37997.html

A self-professed sci-fi fan who once worked for James Cameron has filed a lawsuit against the Avatar director, claiming he ripped off his idea for the decade-in-the-making 3-D blockbuster.
The complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court Thursday and obtained by E! News, accuses Cameron and his company Lightstorm Entertainment of developing Eric Ryder's treatment for a sci-fi tale he wrote in 1999 called K.R.Z. 2068, for which he also created 3-D visual representations and imagery as well as character and scene development, and provided screenplay development assistance.
And wouldn't you know it, the ex-employee alleges his story shares quite a remarkable number of story elements with the King of the World's magnum opus.

Per the suit, Ryder envisioned a movie "about a corporation's colonization and plundering of a distant moon's lush and wondrous natural setting, the corporation's spy sent to crush an insurrection on the distant moon among anthropomorphic, organically created being populated that moon, and the spy's remote sensing experiences with the beings, emotional attachment to one of them in particular and eventual spiritual transformation into a leader of the lunar beings' revolt against the corporation's mining practices."

Ryder claims that Lightstorm agreed it would not use any of material he developed either by himself of jointly without the former worker "sharing in the commercial receipts and the writer and producer credits." As it turned out, he contends the company told him that it had rejected his pitch in any event because execs argued no one was interested in seeing an environmentally themed sci-fi adventure.

The funny thing is James Cameron should be used to this by now as he was accused by Harlan Ellison of copying The Terminator from an Outer Limits episode

Ellison claimed that James Cameron's film The Terminator drew from material from Ellison's "Soldier"[29] and "Demon with a Glass Hand"[30] episodes of The Outer Limits. Hemdale, the production company and the distributor Orion Pictures, settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, "acknowledging" the work of Ellison at the end of the film.[31] Cameron objected to this acknowledgement, which was forced on him by the distributor, and has since labeled Ellison's claim a "nuisance suit".[32]
On April 24, 2000 Ellison sued Stephen Robertson for posting four stories to the newsgroup "alt.binaries.e-book" without authorization. The other defendants were AOL and RemarQ, internet service providers whose only involvement was running servers hosting the newsgroup. Ellison claimed that they had failed to stop the alleged copyright infringement in accordance with the "Notice and Takedown Procedure" outlined in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Robertson and RemarQ first settled with Ellison, and then AOL likewise settled with Ellison in June 2004, under conditions that were not made public. Since those settlements Ellison has initiated legal action and/or takedown notices against more than 240 people who have distributed his writings on the Internet, saying, "If you put your hand in my pocket, you’ll drag back six inches of bloody stump".[33]

Wednesday, 21 December 2011





Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox have partnered with Variety, the Children’s Charity to create a pin badge featuring fan favorites C-3PO and R2-D2 to raise funds for Variety’s Gold Heart Campaign that supports children and young people who are disabled and disadvantaged. The collector’s item will be available for £2 at selected cinemas and retailers including H Samuel, Odeon Cinemas and Forbidden Planet across the U.K from February 2012.

The campaign coincides with the all-new 3D release of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace in cinemas in February 2012.

Since 1991, the Gold Heart Appeal has been Variety’s signature badge campaign in the UK and worldwide. In recent years Variety has worked with a major film company, including Paramount, DreamWorks, and Warner Bros. to design a badge based on a universally recognised film, character or celebrity that is sold primarily in selected cinemas, venues and retailers across the U.K. The Gold Heart campaign has raised over 20 million pounds to help thousands of children and young people.

“The Variety Gold Heart Appeal gives love and support for sick, disabled & disadvantaged children and young people who need our help, so please wear your Gold Heart to show you care.” said Marsha Rae Ratcliff, creator of Gold Hearts and the first lady to become Chief Barker of Variety, the Children’s Charity in Great Britain. “Star Wars and Gold Hearts have both captured imaginations across generations and now we are united with our special 2012 pin badge. So to celebrate the 21st year of Gold Hearts we ask you to feel “The Force” and support our legendary appeal to help improve the life of a child in your community.”

The badge will be available in the U.K at www.varietyclub.org.uk/goldhearts Odeon/UCI Cinemas, Cineworld Cinemas, Forbidden Planet (in stores and online), www.Jedi-Robe.com -TheStarWarsShop, H Samuel, Leeds Building Society, DeVere Venues.



Variety, the Children’s Charity is a grant giving organization with a 60 year legacy of funding grants for children and young people in the UK. Variety has grown to be a great support for children who are sick, disabled or disadvantaged through their Sunshine Coach, Easy Rider Wheelchairs and Variety in Action (VIA) programs.

Through the grants program, Variety funds a whole range of appeals from individuals and organisations for children and young people throughout the country. This includes Sunshine Coaches, electric wheelchairs, strollers, specially-designed adaptive bikes and other mobility devices. Variety also takes children on special excursions that are educational and/or recreational through its VIA program. Our extensive grants program supports children’s hospitals, funds local youth clubs and projects, including those that encourage better literacy, access to media and career development. Variety is also a big supporter of disabled sports access and is currently working in partnership with Sports Aid where it is hoped that 30 out of our 55 funded athletes will be successfully picked for Team GB for the Paralympics in 2012.

http://www.theforce.net/latestnews/story/SW_Gold_Heart_Charity_Pin_In_The_UK_142561.asp
With its scattering of stone and thatched cottages set around a green, and  with a pub and church at its heart, Iddesleigh seems the archetypal English village. But although it is picturesque, it is often overlooked by the holidaymakers heading to the nearby craggy tors of Dartmoor and the sandy beaches of North Devon.
Apart from the handful of names proudly displayed on its war memorial, Iddesleigh seems untouched by the passing of time. But the memorial gives a clue to this small village’s importance. This is where author Michael Morpurgo painstakingly collated the experiences that would go to make up his novel War Horse.
The book has since become an award-winning play and it has now been transformed into a Hollywood blockbuster by director Steven Spielberg. Released in the US last week to critical acclaim, the film arrives here early in the New Year.
Hero: Jeremy Irvine as Albert and his horse Joey in a scene from the Walt Disney film War Horse
Hero: Jeremy Irvine as Albert and his horse Joey in a scene from the Walt Disney film War Horse
But who were the people from this sleepy Devon village that inspired an entertainment juggernaut, the people whose stories have now been seen by more than a million theatregoers and will soon be seen by millions more on the big screen?
In the foreword to War Horse, first published in 1982, Morpurgo credits three men: ‘Albert Weeks, the late Wilfrid Ellis and the late Captain Budgett – all three octagenarians in the parish of Iddesleigh.’
Weeks and Ellis, who lived next door to one another, now both lie buried, just yards apart, in the churchyard of 15th Century St James’s in the village, while Budgett died not far away in Exeter.
Morpurgo met and talked to all three while they were living in Iddesleigh and, through their stories, created the tale of Joey – the Devon farm horse sold to the British Cavalry and taken to  the Western Front – and the boy farmhand left behind.
From Captain Budgett, Morpurgo learned of the life of an officer in the British Cavalry in the First World War and the  relationships that developed between the men and the horses.
From Weeks he learned of the frustrations of those too young to sign up and how the Army came to rural villages, buying up horses. And from Ellis he learned of the blood and mud of the trenches and the horror of warfare on the Western Front.
When the film of War Horse opens here next month, the lives of these three men and those of their descendants will be catapulted from the anonymity of life in Iddesleigh.
Here are their stories: tales from the First World War – at home and abroad – that will soon reverberate around the world . . .
The story of Captain Budgett,  the inspiration for Morpurgo’s Captain Nicholls, begins not in the past but in the present day and with the most curious of  coincidences.
When 19-year-old Vanessa Budgett applied for a role in a drama known only as Project Dartmoor, she had no idea what the production was, or that the film had any connection to her family.
All she knew was  that actresses with ‘pale skin type and brown hair’ were required for a period drama. She had heard about it only because her mother’s choir had been sent leaflets asking for people to take part. Her previous experience had been no grander than roles with a local operatic society and school productions.
Vanessa, like her forbears, is from the South West, so her natural appearance was exactly right to play a young West Country girl from 100 years ago.
History: Captain Arthur Budgett on camp in Berkshire with his regiment
History: The great-granddaughter of Captain Budgett, Vanessa

‘I was lucky because I hadn’t been on holiday, and many of the other girls were brown from  having been away or had a spray tan,’ she said. ‘Also, I didn’t have any highlights in my hair.’
Vanessa was on set in the Wiltshire village of Castle Combe for five days in September last year – but she was in the dark as to what was being filmed and nor did she know that it would have special significance to her.
‘I genuinely had no idea what it was, although we had all heard the rumours about Spielberg coming to England.
‘I had heard of the book but I didn’t know about the connection with my great-grandfather  until a few days before filming, when Dad seemed convinced it was going to be War Horse and told me about the inspiration for the book.’
It was only when she caught a glimpse – across a busy take – of Steven Spielberg that the penny finally dropped. ‘On the third day, I was talking to one of the crew who happened to ask me my name and  I told him.
‘He said, “That’s not Budgett as in Captain Budgett, is it?” When I said it was, he said I had better go with him.

‘He took me to meet Mr Morpurgo, and when he was told of the connection he threw his arms around me and said how delighted he was to meet me. Clare, his wife, gave me a big hug, too.
‘We started talking about Captain Budgett and Nethercott, the farm where he lived. The Morpurgos were insistent I go down with my family and visit them.’
Vanessa’s involvement with the main players did not end there.
‘Mr Morpurgo then called Mr Spielberg across and told him who I was. He couldn’t believe the coincidence. He asked me if I minded him taking a photo on his mobile.
‘Everyone on the set was looking at me and it was a bit embarrassing.The whole experience was absolutely surreal. I was so elated just  to be there. To get to meet Mr  Morpurgo and Mr Spielberg was the icing on the cake.’
She has now been invited to a  private screening of the film, together with her grandfather Anthony, father Charles and mother Arabella.
Not that her background quite matches that of her military ancestor. Vanessa has recently finished studying at a comprehensive school in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire. Arthur Budgett, her great-grandfather, was born into privilege; his mother Georgina Rose was part of the Morland brewing dynasty.
Spending his earliest years just six miles from Iddesleigh, the young Budgett was educated at exclusive Haileybury, in Hertfordshire, before spending two years  in Swaziland, where he helped farm cattle and ostriches. But early  in 1915, with war declared, he returned to Britain to enlist in the Berkshire Yeomanry.
He undertook a short spell of training at Aldershot, and was then despatched with his unit to the Eastern Mediterranean, where the war against Turkey, which was allied to Germany, was technologically less advanced than the Western Front, and old-fashioned cavalry charges – swords drawn – still took place.
Inspiration: Wilfred Ellis was a professional violin player after the first world war
Inspiration: Albert Weeks pictured enjoying a drink in the Duke of York
Inspiration: Both Wilfrid Ellis and Albert Weeks are mentioned in the foreward of the book along with Captain Budgett
The war took him from Gallipoli  to Alexandria, then through Palestine to the charge at El Maghar in November 1917.
He disappeared during fighting  at Zeitoun in Egypt and Budgett’s mother received the heartbreaking news that he was missing, presumed dead. In fact, he had been captured and was later transported, mainly on foot, across 800 miles from  Constantinople to Central Anatolia in Turkey.
Some months later, Budgett’s mother was to receive another letter, this time from Budgett himself, confirming he was still alive.
The letter found its way back to England via a Dutchman to whom  it had been handed  on the train journey back to Constantinople. It had been posted, eventually,  from Holland.
When he settled back at Iddesleigh after the First World War, he bought Nethercott, the farmhouse just  outside the village where Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare now run their charity, Farms For City Children.
It was in Iddesleigh that Captain Budgett talked to Morpurgo about the bond that developed between soldiers and their horses, one of the main themes of the story.
In particular, he told Morpurgo how soldiers in the First World War would confide in their horses and talk to them as the best of friends. Budgett himself had spoken to the horses of his hopes and fears – and the horses had seemed to listen.
In the film, Captain Nicholls, a British Cavalry officer modelled on  Budgett, is paired with Joey, a farm horse bought by the Army at an  auction in Devon.
But Joey’s link to another of the three men who inspired War Horse, Albert Weeks, is even stronger.
While Arthur Budgett was a gentleman, and was to become a master of hounds, Albert Weeks was a farmhand, who spent time as an employee of Budgett at Nethercott.
Extra special: Captain Arthur Budgett's great-granddaughter Vanessa with War Horse author Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare on set
Extra special: Captain Arthur Budgett's great-granddaughter Vanessa with War Horse author Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare on set
Legendary: Steven Spielberg shooting War Horse in Wiltshire with Jeremy Irvine
Legendary: Steven Spielberg shooting War Horse in Wiltshire with Jeremy Irvine
Weeks grew up in a hamlet about a mile from Iddesleigh, where he lived in a tied cottage.
Born in 1901, he was too young to enlist when the war broke out, so stayed behind as a farmhand, tending horses. He lived at Burrow Cottage at Nethercott where he landed a job after marrying his sweetheart, Grace, in 1924.
The Weeks’ daughter Margaret, now 85, who owns a bungalow on the outskirts of Iddesleigh, said: ‘Dad looked after the horses that were used for ploughing and worked the land. There was no machinery then, don’t forget.
‘I always remembered the names of two of them, Reuben, but particularly Joe, or Joey. Of all the horses that was always his favourite.’ Joey in War Horse was named after Weeks’s much-loved animal. The pair worked together at Nethercott for more than two decades.
Margaret added: ‘He was a wonderful father. He was very good-tempered and I can’t remember him raising his voice in anger. He was a jolly, friendly man who would do anything for anybody.’
Weeks was renowned in the village for his rendition of Lavender  Trousers (an old music-hall song) following the New Year’s Eve  service in the church and after a couple of pints in the next door Duke of York pub, where he loved a game of darts. It was there he met Morpurgo and regaled him, like Budgett and Ellis, with his recollections of the war to end all wars.
Charles Weeks, 83, his son, still lives in Rosalind Cottage, which adjoins the old village schoolhouse. At the end of last month, a painting of Joey was unveiled there.
Here was another quirk of fate   – as reality intersected with Morpurgo’s fiction once again.
The novel opens by telling of a dusty frame holding an image of the red bay Joey, above a clock that has stopped at one minute past ten. The animal ‘looks wistfully out of the picture, his ears pricked forward, his head turned as if he has just noticed us standing there’.
The old school is still used for evening socials, harvest suppers and parish council meetings, at which Charles’s wife, Joan, who worked for 21 years for Morpurgo, sits as a long-serving member.  Visitors have come looking for the non-existent painting (a figment  of the author’s imagination) and rather than disappoint them, she  has pretended that it was safely  kept elsewhere.
She said: ‘I felt I had to keep the secret. Michael is a lovely man. He adores village life and he doesn’t have any airs and graces. He takes his turn and does his bit to help. We’re all very proud of our connection with him.’
Morpurgo was persuaded to move from London to the depths of Devon by his wife, whose father, Sir Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin Books, had always liked to take family holidays in Iddesleigh.
These days, Nethercott’s young charity guests learn hands-on where their food comes from, how to work co-operatively as part of a team and the importance of caring for animals.
The idea for War Horse first came to  Morpurgo when he was in the Duke of York pub, talking to Wilfrid Ellis. Ellis took Morpurgo back to his cottage and showed him some things he’d brought back from the Front – his trenching tool, a button, some medals – and told him about living through the war.
Horse power: Arthur Budgett, the inspiration for Morpurgo's Captain Nicholls, on his horse Jazz in 1920
Horse power: Arthur Budgett, the inspiration for Morpurgo's Captain Nicholls, on his horse Jazz in 1920
Ellis, who later worked as an antique dealer, also sold him a print featuring a horse. (That horse, Topthorne, has the same name as the horse running behind Joey in the cavalry charge in War Horse.)
A private in the Norfolk Regiment, Ellis had survived the horror of the Western Front, where Morpurgo decided that Joey and Captain Nicholls should be sent.
Ellis’s pencil-written service record reveals he suffered a leg wound in March 1918, was gassed in August and returned home in time for Christmas. He rarely spoke of his experiences, except to Morpurgo, who extracted them quietly and sensitively, almost unnoticed.
Ellis scrambled from the mud of Flanders after being shot in the ankle and was the last aboard a wagon  taking the wounded to hospital.
The shortage of troops, though, meant he was soon thrust back into the front line. In the wake of a gas attack, and reeling from its effects, his trench was overrun by the Germans. Yet his life was spared.
His widow, Dorothy, who celebrated her 90th birthday on Armistice Day this year, said: ‘He must have been terrified. He would rather have died than been taken prisoner.’ But fate took an unusual twist.
‘One of the German soldiers jumped down into the trench with a fixed bayonet,’ she continued. ‘He just looked at Wilfrid. Later Wilfrid told me he thought the poor devil thought he wasn’t worth the effort of killing.
‘Eventually, he hobbled back to  the British lines, although he said he had no idea how he did it. He had a strong faith.’
Ellis was born in Wimbledon, South-West London. He signed up aged 17 years and ten months.
Dorothy says that despite his leg injury, he was one of the best dancers she knew. A trained violinist, he worked on the cruise ship RMS Empress of Britain and in seaside resorts after the war. He moved to Devon in the Thirties to be close to his sick father. It was there that he met Dorothy. Although they were unable to have their own children, they fostered twin girls, Pauline and Joan.
‘He was always cracking jokes, laughing and singing,’ said Dorothy. ‘He had a beautiful voice.’
Ellis died in 1981, aged 82, without the slightest suspicion that his humble soldiering would one day attract worldwide fame.
lWar Horse in released in cinemas nationwide on January 13.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


Today I picked up my collector's edition of The Old Republic and I thought I would share with you what exactly is in the box.


FRONT OF BOX


TOP COVER OFF BOX

Darth Malgus Statue


Base for Statue
Box For Statue
Journal Of Master Gnost-Dural Book.  Amazing illustrations as shown below with plans pullouts.











Tin case containing three discs for the game.


Soundtrack CD




Side Of Box

Back Of Box

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