War HorseThe original novel, War Horse, was written by Michael Morpurgo. In it ‘Joey’, a British-bred horse who works on a farm, is bought by the army and thrust into the middle of the war on the Western Front. Initially an officer’s charger, he is later captured by the Germans and used to pull huge infantry guns until he nears death.

He is found wandering in no-mans land between the trenches where he becomes trapped in barbed wire. Rescued by the troops, he is taken back to the army hospital, where he is nursed back to health. There he is reunited with the son of his former owner, who trained him as a young horse. There are further troubles ahead, but eventually horse and man return to the farm where they grew up.

The book was adapted for the stage production by Nick Stafford, who uses the brilliant life-sized puppets of horses and other animals, controlled by the South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, to bring breathing, galloping, charging horses to life on stage. The show is currently based at the New London Theatre in Drury Lane, London but it’s eight-year run is due to end in March 2016 due to declining ticket sales. Book War Horse tickets The puppets make occasional public appearances to raise awareness the role animals play in war.

War Horse the film/movie was a box office hit in 2011. Directed by Steven Spielberg, it stared Jeremy Irvine and Emily Watson, with David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Marsan, Toby Kebbell, David Kross and Peter Mullan among the cast. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, two Golden Globe Awards and five BAFTAs.

The acclaimed National Theatre production of War Horse finishes its run on Saturday (12 March 2016). If you've missed your chance to see it — don't panic. Here's why the film version won't disappoint, says Jen Scouler