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By choosing to make a film set during World War l, Steven Spielberg will have faced a number of challenges in terms of how to represent the past authentically. Many historical films are ‘based on’ or ‘inspired by’ a true story. War Horse is based on a fictional narrative yet contains within it representations of the past that will be of interest to those studying this period in history.

Before viewing

As you watch the following two clips carefully, imagine you are a historical consultant on the film. What questions you would like to ask the director about the research undertaken and the directorial choices made. For example, how did you ensure the uniforms were realistic? What primary source material did you refer to when making the film?

After viewing

Pool your questions then as a whole class or in small groups discuss your ideas about some of the key issues of historical representation in film.

Here are some more questions to add into the mix:


After you have watched the whole film, you might wish to consider the historical representation of the period more broadly. Here are some questions to guide your discussion: