Horse-whisperer Hopes Morocco Films Return At Full Gallop
Marrakesh, Morocco, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 26th May, 2021 ) :Horse master Joel Proust hopes his stallions will soon return to the movie sets in Morocco that made his name, ranging from Hollywood epics to "Game of Thrones".
The North African nation's dramatic desert sands and palm-filled valleys traversed by camel herds have long provided stand-ins for big-budget film sets needing middle East locations, but coronavirus restrictions have hit the industry hard.
Last year was "difficult", Proust said, at an equestrian centre on the outskirts of Marrakesh, where the thundering of hooves announces the sudden arrival of a herd.
The horses -- including Arab-Barbs, Friesians and Spanish purebreds -- gallop, trot and play dead as they follow their instructor.
They include Oliver Stone's swashbuckling "Alexander" in 2004, and Ridley Scott's Crusade-epic "Kingdom of Heaven" in 2005.
Proust has fond memories of Stephen Sommers' Egyptian horror fantasy "The Mummy" in 1999, which saw "200 horses galloping at full speed".
Last year, "we did a Moroccan tourism advert and a single film production, when normally we do 10 a year," the former stuntman said, wearing a T-shirt and jodhpurs.
He says he is readying for three big international productions, including Kevin Scott Frakes' film adaptation of "The Alchemist", by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho.
"We hope that the country will open its borders," Proust said. "If not, things will get complicated." - Mother of Dragons - Since the 1950s, Morocco has welcomed international filmmakers, from Alfred Hitchcock to Pier Paolo Pasolini and Orson Welles.
Proust arrived in the kingdom in the early 1980s as an equestrian instructor, and began his career as a stuntman not long after.
For Martin Scorsese's 1997 mega-production "Kundun", on the life of the Dalai Lama, he faced a particular challenge.
On location in southern Ouarzazate for smash-hit fantasy series "Game of Thrones", he recalled a dramatic scene with British actress Emilia Clarke, who played the "Mother of Dragons", Daenerys Targaryen.
"At the last minute, the director decided that an army of 200 extras had to strike the ground with their lances at the moment she passed through on her horse," he said. "The terrible noise disoriented the animal." In order to finish the scene, he suggested the actors "make it seem like they were hitting the ground" instead. The sound of the spears was added in later.
"He managed to slip out one night to come and have a drink with us", Proust said.