The Deeper Meaning Behind The "War Horse" (2011) Movie By Steven Spielberg (Part 1)

On this new occasion, the publication that I bring you, despite being about cinema, will not cover the entire film “War Horse” (2011) by Steven Spielberg in its entirety, but rather a few scenes and a dialogue which I found essential to be able to understand what, among many other things, the highly acclaimed director seeks to convey to the viewer during his film. The scene, or, somewhat, scenes that I am going to tell you about, take place at the moment when the film reaches and exceeds two hours. Specifically, these scenes in the movie appear between an hour and 45 minutes and two hours. The scenes that, I reiterate once again, are essential to understand the film’s most powerful message begin when, from both sides of the trenches, both German and English soldiers discover that there is a horse that lies badly wounded in the so-called “No Man’s Lands”.


Moments in which both armies discover the badly injured horse

And who is going to be the brave man who endangers his life to save a horse that lies badly wounded in no man’s land? Who cares as much about a horse’s life as yours? The director seems to ask the viewer in a row. Well, an English corporal named Collins and a German soldier named Peter. One for each side so that the director can represent two things in both contestants:

  1. That even amid the chaos and destruction of war, people can become the hope of the innocent.
  2. That good people exist everywhere regardless of the circumstances in which they are involved because this is not about ‘good and bad, ‘ but about being aware that animals have been the only ones who, through no fault of their own, are suffering the war all.


The moment in which the English corporal leaves the trench to help the badly injured horse.

But … what if it’s a trap? What if it is the other who waits for me to show my humanity to kill her? The protagonists seem to ask us now with their gestures to the spectators after meeting with the horse. Neither Collins, the English corporal, nor Peter, the German soldier, will seem to trust each other until they realize that they both need each other if they want to help the horse.

The previous and slight distrust that will exist between the two protagonists who want to save the horse, the director, will show us in two ways:

  1. Placing between the two protagonists a kind of river that visually separates them both on the two sides of the plane.
  2. Making the protagonists, still suspicious, not want to take off their helmets yet. On the other hand, the object clearly serves to help the viewer distinguish between one army and the other, to English and German.


But … If English and German are needed … How will we show them to the viewer? Well, very easy. First, we show that it is German and his cowardly companions who have instruments in their trenches to break the cables that injure the horse, and then we begin, not only to place them on the same side of the river or the wounded horse but even crouched (position of vulnerability at war) or without helmets.

But since it has not yet been shown that they trust each other one hundred percent, the director will decide that both remove their helmets while they tend to the horse in the following images. English and German will metaphorically ‘undress’ by giving up helmets that provide protection and differentiate them.

The idea that the protagonists remove their helmets to reflect the viewer that they are alike will be reinforced later with the jokes they will share comparing their situations in the trenches, their tastes for girls, or that both have common names throughout the world – world and not exclusive to the countries for which they fight.


Check out the second part of this article for the rest of the review.