DreamWork’s “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron”
Directed By: Kelly Asbury & Lorna Cook
Produced By: Max Howard, Mireille Soria, Jeffrey Katzenberg
Written By: John Fusco
Happy holidays everyone! In celebration of the upcoming New Year, which is to be the Year of the Horse according to the Chinese Zodiac, I shall review DreamWork’s Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. For this review, I shall go over method of how Spirit’s story is told, the music, and a few random bits of trivia that I found rather intriguing.
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, follows the story of a stallion who is eventually named Spirt-who-could-not-be-broken, or Spirit for short, by a Lakota Indian named Little Creek. Spirit’s story is wholly unique in multiple fashions and is, I’d like to think, one of the inspirations behind such films as Pixar’s WALL*E in that not once do we hear the titular character speak, or any other character that is otherwise incapable of the act. The animals are anthropomorphic only so much that they make clearly human-like facial expressions and easily recognizable gestures but are otherwise clearly just what they are: animals.
However, unlike WALL*E, we are hosted to the thoughts of Spirit himself by way of a pseudo-narrator who speaks generally as any inner thought might but very rarely in a way that could be considered as a horse’s attempt at conversation. Because there is very little talking, Spirit’s story feels more… more empathic to me. Though that’s not to say there aren’t any lines that just resonate with you, regardless of who you are or from where you hail. It’s just that there are some scenes where the facial expressions alone tell more than what Spirit, or any animal, could say if given the chance. The look on Spirit’s face when he was captured and dragged out of the Cimarron still breaks my heart to see, even to this day.
As to the music of Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, well what can I say? A story that takes place on the old west, of course it’s going to be Western style of music. Yet, predominately, all of the songs in the movie are sung by one person, a Bryan Adams, and whereas most background songs tend to just be that, a part of the scenery, the music of Spirit stands as a part of the story rather than apart from it. Songs like “You Can’t Take Me” or “This is Where I Belong” don’t enhance or add to the scene but with their absence there would be something… missing I feel. That and I do admit, the sequence of events that follow through the song “Get Off My Back” always leaves me breathless with laughter.
Lastly, I’ll wrap this up with a few trivia facts that I discovered about this movie that, quite frankly, surprised me to no end. First and foremost, the character of Spirit was in fact based on an actual horse named Kiger and that he, and quite a few other horses, were brought in to provide all of the vocals for the vast varieties of horses in the picture. Of the four traditionally animated films DreamWorks released in theaters, Spirit was the only one to be nominated for the Oscar of Best Animated Feature. It lost but still has nine other awards under its belt.
Overall, I give Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, 4 out of 5 Stars. It’s a great movie, but if one is not a fan of horses or stories of the old west, I can’t claim that it would be your cup of tea. For those who are and are intrigued by the tale of a wild stallion by name of Spirit, let me end this review with the opening narration…
“They say the mustang is the spirit of the West. Whether that west was won or lost in the end, you’ll have to decide for yourself, but the story I want to tell you is true. I was there and I remember. I remember the sun, the sky, and the wind calling my name in a time when we ran free. I’ll never forget the sound and the feeling of running together. The hoof beats were many, but our hearts were one.”