Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)

Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Romance, Western
Matt Damon, James Cromwell, Daniel Studi, Chopper Bernet
As a wild stallion travels across the frontiers of the Old West, he befriends a young human and finds true love with a mare.
A visually stunning film that may be too predictable and politically correct for adults, but should serve children well.
  • DreamWorks SKG Company:
  • G Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 24 May 2002 Released:
  • 19 Nov 2002 DVD Release:
  • $73.2M Box office:

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The first great western of the 21st century!5/10

SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON, the new animated feature from Dreamworks, is an honest-to-God western. Some of you may be forgiven for thinking it was just a horse movie, a distinct and definable genre in its own right (e.g. MY FRIEND FLICKA), but I assure you this is a real, bonafide western, complete with cavalry, Indians, Monument Valley and the building of the transcontinental railroad. It's a familiar saga (to western fans) but told here from the point-of-view of a wild horse. It just may be the only western that children in today's audience will get to see on the big screen. (And it's perfectly suitable for even the smallest children.)

The movie has three selling points for people who are appalled at how childish and inane animated features in the U.S. have been over the last decade or so:

1) It's got a serious story. 2) The horses don't talk. 3) The horses don't sing.

The latter two functions are served by Spirit's first-person narration, voiced by Matt Damon and told in the past tense as a reminiscence, and several songs on the soundtrack written and performed by Bryan Adams. Neither of these elements were particularly necessary and the movie would have been better without them, although they aren't fatal. Hans Zimmer's excellent music score does a far more effective job in conveying, in dramatic and emotional terms, what the songs belabor. But, thankfully, aside from Damon, there are no other celebrity voices.

The other big selling point is the artwork. The background art and western landscapes are stunning and offer a mix of painted scenes and computer-created scenery, although everything seems computer enhanced in one way or another. Most importantly, the film gives us a chance to savor the backgrounds. The characters don't zip around in constant frenetic motion the way they do in Disney movies. Although there are several chase scenes, the characters are just as likely to pause and connect with each other in movements reflecting naturalistic behavior. There are moments of gentleness, tenderness, curiosity, and discovery, so we get to see the space the characters are in and get to connect with it ourselves. There's a real palpable sense of environment and geography, of time and place, something rarely found in American animated features.

The character design is also well-done. The human characters all have solid, expressive, recognizable faces, strongly differentiated from each other. The horses are well designed also, looking like horses, but anthropomorphised enough to give them recognizable emotional responses. No character, human or animal, is exaggerated for cartoon effect.

I normally have problems with digital animation and computer created imagery and SPIRIT is, for the most part, computer created, although it replicates the look of traditional 2-D animation. Still, if this is the wave of the future, then SPIRIT shows us how it should be done. This is digital animation at the best I've ever seen it (including the Japanese anime features I've seen in the last few years). And combined with a good story and clean concept that doesn't patronize its audience, it's created what I think is the finest American animated feature since BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1991). If there is any significant flaw in SPIRIT, aside from the songs, it's that the story falls short of greatness, undercut by the lack of a sufficiently emotional payoff. Still, it's a better story than any I've seen in an American animated production since at least THE LION KING. Some viewers may quibble about the politically correct aspects of the story (cavalry=bad, Indians=good), but there is a moment near the end that balances things out in an intelligent, dramatic way.

SPIRIT may suffer at the boxoffice because it doesn't have the all-important lowest-common-denominator touches that have so cheapened the animated genre but attracted audiences looking for easy laughs (e.g. celebrity voices doing hyperactive genies, show-tune-singing meerkats and jive-talking jackasses). But it should give a measure of hope to that small, passionate segment of the audience that cares about animation as a medium capable in its own right of great storytelling and cinematic artistry.
We need more films like this10/10

In a time when Hollywood is making money by showing our weaknesses, despair, crime, drugs, and war, along comes this film which reminds us the concept of the "Indomitable Spirit". If you are feeling beaten down, this movie will free your mind and set you soaring. We all know how tough life can be, sometime we need to be reminded that persistence and courage will get us through. That's what this film did for me and I hope it will for you.
An animated movie that is to be commended. One that is up there with the best.10/10

Spirit is a unique and original look at western life from the point of view of a wild horse, and native Americans. The film focuses on the friendships and perils that a wild horse, Spirit, encounters during his life.

Very well done in the presentation, using the technology available today to deliver stunning visuals that are breathtaking in their depth and realism.

The music is fantastic, with songs by Bryan Adams, and music by Hans Zimmer, who also was responsible for the extremely popular music from the 1994 Disney hit, The Lion King.

The story is not very deep but the fact that it isn't quite as in-depth as some movies doesn't in my opinion detract from the film as a whole.

An excellent film which I enjoyed immensely, and that is suitable for all the family. Not one to be missed. (10/10)
Awesome the kids love it10/10

I have probably seen this movie over fifty times by now because of the kids they just cant get enough of Spirit. The best thing about the movie I think is that the animals isn't able to talk, this makes the whole movie more honest and makes a better impression on both kids and the adults so 10/10 from the kids and me
One of the best animated features not to have the Disney name on it5/10

Looking for a movie with cutesy talking horses that the kiddies will love? Then Spirit is probably not the movie for you, it is instead one of the nicest animated features to come along in a long time to not have Disney written all over it. No, the horses do not talk and they shouldn't as the whole story is told from a horse's point of voice in a wonderful narrative. In fact there's not a lot of pointless dialog to weigh down the movie at all.

Instead it's filled by a wonderful score by Hans Zimmer and songs by Bryan Adams who admittedly I wasn't a big fan off except for (Everything I Do (I Do It For You) and Star) but the songs he did for this movie especially Here I Am, Get Off Of My Back, Can't Take Me, Brothers Under The Sun and Sound The Bugle made me download the soundtrack from Walmart.com the next day.

The main reasons I liked this move would have to be the beautiful drawn animation, mixed with an endearing story with some comedy elements and a wonderful soundtrack. Spirit is simply fun and enjoyable for the whole family no matter what their age.