In this movie we find Michael stops his car when he sees three horses standing a bit far away from the road. That's precisely how he gets saved when the car bomb explodes. He got out of the car to take a closer look at them as they coincided with the sketch of three horses in the "book with the red cover", Realm and Conquest.

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Committed to a fully developed back story, director Tony Gilroy spent a good deal of time establishing the details of "Realm and Conquest" with production designer Kevin Thompson. The director explains that right from the beginning, when he first read the script, he could tell that "Realm and Conquest" was going to be a key prop. In the movie it's a metaphor for truth and justice. In creating the details of the fictional novel, Thompson generated original visuals inspired by German Expressionistic images cut from wood blocks, and Gilroy wrote the first two pages for three chapters of the book. They even went as far as designing a "Realm and Conquest" card game for a scene between Henry and Michael. Thompson offers, "This detail was important to Tony because, in his own life, novels and games similar to 'Realm and Conquest' allow him to connect with his son in a meaningful way."

My question here is: Apart from the connection of the three horses from the sketch of this book, was there any philosophical implications to it? Or was it any reference to any other works of Tony Gilroy?

I was not able to find any account of philosophical or any other implications apart from that connection with the sketch.

  • 2
    Michael has had a rough week. He just left the hit-run fixer job, which was the easiest thing he had to deal with in a stretch of days that included a close colleague's death, his bar fixtures being auctioned off, begging for a loan from Marty, paying off a loan shark, etc. He is watching the horses and contemplating their simple lives and comparing them with the choices he has made with his.
    – dbugger
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 3:22
  • @dbugger You might want to flesh that out into an actual answer.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 11:15

4 Answers 4


According to the commentary track, the editor was pushing for three horses in the photo, as just one wouldn't be enough for viewers to get the reference. From IMDb trivia,

When Clooney is in Wilkinson's loft, looking through the copy of the book his son recommended, the artwork of the horse on the hill was added through CGI as it was recommended to be a reason for Clooney to pull over and walk up the hill in the very early shot with the horses.


It is not so much the number of the horses, but the fact it reminded him of the picture in his son's book, which represented a moment of clarity, which the book referenced. No, it was not being off the drugs that brought this clarity, it was meeting one of the people his company was being sued by.

When Michael stopped to see these horses, his car exploded (which was his moment of clarity). He had all doubts removed: the people he was working for were evil and would destroy anyone in their path.

  • You seem to be answering the question from an in-universe point of view, where the question is posed in more of an out-of-universe sense; was it meaningful to the creators or their vision?
    – DavidW
    Commented May 2, 2023 at 22:47

The key here isn't the horses at all it's the fact that the Son tells The dad that every1 is having the same dream but don't realize it... This is the astral plane or the realm of notions.

He says they are being summoned to the same place and that they are having the same dream but are afraid to admit it, as Micheal finds this connection in being saved by the horses from the realm in conquest book.

He says it's something larger than themselves, it's the truth playing out through the relationship of both the attorneys and the child's honesty regarding what seems to be fantasy but isn't at all. The despotic unorth is getting karma for the cover-up, and Micheal is realizing the harsh truth that his so-called mad friend Arthur is absolutely on to something huge... Bigger than his life or his friend's loss, a divine situation unfolding to bring real truth to light.

I find Micheals's repeat of Arthur's Shiva comment far more intriguing personally, it's obvious Micheal has been inherently passed the torch of the unorth cover-up and that it's changed his life dramatically for the better. He has been summoned to give Arthur's life meaning and push justice upon the corrupt company.

The roundup stuff all over tv currently for cancer is just what has happened just recently and certainly not the 1st huge company to play both sides of the middle with innocent people's lives regarding health.

It's about divine accountability in my humble opinion, this a redemption. I personally like the use of greed to catch the culprit red-handed in the end as it was really greed that caused all the chaos to begin with, that the corruption of law in general.


Actually I don't think there is any significance other than it's one peaceful moment he has throughout the whole fiasco.

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