Next week, the movie based on Doug Stanton’s book ‘Horse Soldiers’ will hit theaters nationwide. It’s about a small group of Special Forces who rode horses to fight the Taliban.
“It’s a Western with lasers,” says Doug.It’s an exciting time to be number one New York Times best-selling author Doug Stanton. Earlier this year, the Traverse City native released his third book, “Odyssey of Echo Company.”
Next Friday, January 19, a new film based on “Horse Soldiers” called “12 Strong” opens in theaters nationwide.
The movie stars Chris Hemsworth and is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.
It’s about a small group of U.S. Army Special Forces that get sent to Afghanistan right after 9/11, to fight the Taliban. They team up with a Afghan warlord and fight on horseback.“The reason the horses are important is that they were able to swarm and overwhelm the mechanical machinery of the Taliban weaponry,” Doug explains.
He says while riding horses during battle might seem like an ancient paradigm, the Special Forces used it to their advantage to create their desired outcome.
“If you’re able to adapt and change your state of being more quickly than the other person, or the problem itself, you will actually overcome that problem,” he says. “That’s a very intellectual kind of idea, but it’s embedded deeply into their training and also into the movie.”
Diplomatic relationships also played a big role in the story of “12 Strong.” The Special Forces aligned themselves with Afghani rebels to help them make change within their country. Doug says that’s America at its best.
“It’s much like a World War II story in that if you think about these guys … being dropped behind enemy lines and creating resistance and an underground movement to overthrow the establishing structure, which is the Taliban,” he says. “Just as we did in Nazi Germany in World War II.”
Doug Stanton will be at Horizon Books next Thursday, January 18, talking about his book, “Horse Soldiers.” Also, “12 Strong” premieres in theaters all over the country next Friday, January 19.Area audiences of the new movie “12 Strong” will be scanning the credits closely for a familiar name.
The powerful war drama from Alcon Entertainment, Black Label Media and Jerry Bruckheimer Films is based on Traverse City author Doug Stanton’s best-selling 2009 book, “Horse Soldiers.”
The Warner Bros. Pictures release, which has been in the works for years, hits theaters Jan. 19. But already it has created advance buzz and propelled Stanton’s book back onto the New York Times Best Sellers list. Currently the book is at No. 1 in paperback nonfiction.
“Movies always have this enormous power but I didn’t know it would happen so quickly,” said Stanton, who took time off from new work last week for a Los Angeles press conference featuring movie cast and crew for domestic and international journalists.
The film follows the book’s dramatic account of a small band of Special Forces soldiers who secretly entered Afghanistan following 9/11 and rode to war on horses against the Taliban. The little-known action depended on the forces’ gaining the Afghans’ trust and getting them to stop fighting each other in order to fight the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies together.
“It’s a different kind of war movie,” said Stanton, an executive producer. “It’s about the relationship these guys created with the Afghans.”
In typical movie fashion the film got a different title from the bok, which was recently reprinted with a movie tie-in cover.
“I liked the ‘Horse Soldiers’ title but when I discussed it with Bruckheimer/Warner Bros. films they said it was a decision of the studios,” Stanton said. “They just felt it had a wider appeal.”
The film stars Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”) as Captain Mitch Nelson and Michael Shannon (“Nocturnal Animals,” “The Shape of Water”) as Hal Spencer. It also features Navid Negahban (“24”) as Afghan General Rashid Dostum.
“He took an enormous amount of care in creating the Afghan general,” said Stanton, who spent a few days on the movie set.
The film was shot in New Mexico and features battle scenes set against the White Sands Missile Range, an enormous expanse of desert.
“What’s always surprising was how small everything was when watching filming in person and how big it looks on screen,” Stanton said. “To see the horse charges on screen was startling because I watched them being filmed.”
He said other surprises included the accuracy of the costuming and the caliber of the actors hired to play both the Northern Alliance and Taliban soldiers.
Stanton got his first look at the completed film in late November in producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s Los Angeles office.
“It was amazing and fun,” said Stanton, who invited Anne Cooper, his friend and former theater teacher at Interlochen Arts Academy, to view it with him. “I loved the movie. It was a completely different experience because I’ve never watched something I’d written, as a movie.”
Still, he doesn’t think he’ll fully experience the movie until he sees it with an audience. That will happen Jan. 16 when he attends the New York premiere at the Lincoln Center with wife Anne, daughter Katherine, 22, and sons Will, 13, and John, 24.
Stanton said he feels less pressure for audiences to like the movie than he did for readers to like his book. But he said viewers can’t help but be gripped by the action.