The film follows Spirit, a Kiger mustang stallion (voiced by Matt Damon through inner dialogue), who is captured during the American Indian Wars by the United States Cavalry; he is freed by a Native American man named Little Creek who attempts to lead him back into the Lakota village. In contrast to the way animals are portrayed in an anthropomorphic style in other animated features, Spirit and his fellow horses communicate with each other through non-linguistic sounds and body language like real horses.
In the 19th-century American West, a bald eagle flies over the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon to the forest. There, a Kiger mustang colt, Spirit, is born to a herd of wild horses. Spirit grows into a stallion and assumes the leadership of the herd. One night, upon following a strange light near his herd, Spirit finds horses kept in chains and their wranglers sleeping around a campfire. They awake and, seeing him as a magnificent specimen, seize him and take him away, to a US cavalry fort.
The next morning, the Colonel and his cavalry find Spirit and Little Creek and a chase ensues through the Grand Canyon, where they are trapped on one side of a gorge. Taking a risk, Spirit makes a leap of faith across the gorge. Spirit's bold move amazes the Colonel; after stopping one of the privates from attacking, he humbly accepts defeat and leaves them be. Little Creek returns to the Lakota village with Spirit and finds Rain nursed back to health. Little Creek names the stallion "Spirit Who Could Not Be Broken". Spirit and Rain are then set loose by Little Creek, bidding them farewell. They depart to Spirit's homeland, where they eventually reunite with his herd.
Parents need to know that Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is a 2002 movie about a wild mustang stallion that cannot be tamed in the "Wild West." The scenes of Spirit being taken away from his family, and subsequent scenes of Spirit's cruel treatment while men try to "break" him, may be too intense at times for younger or more sensitive viewers. The soldiers use guns and treat Spirit harshly, applying whips and spurs. The blacksmith makes an unsuccessful attempt to brand him. While trying to break Spirit, after all else fails, Spirit is left tied to a post for three days in the hot sun with no food and water. Frequent peril includes a near-drowning scene in which horses are trapped in raging rapids. Characters are in peril and it appears that one has been killed. There's a fire and a chase scene. The Native American boy is portrayed as brave, compassionate, and honorable.
The animals do not speak in "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron," and I think that's important to the film's success. It elevates the story from a children's fantasy to one wider audiences can enjoy, because although the stallion's adventures are admittedly pumped-up melodrama, the hero is nevertheless a horse and not a human with four legs. There is a whole level of cuteness that the movie avoids, and a kind of narrative strength it gains in the process.
The latest animated release from DreamWorks tells the story of Spirit, a wild mustang stallion, who runs free on the great Western plains before he ventures into the domain of man and is captured by U.S. Cavalry troops. They think they can tame him. They are wrong, although the gruff-voiced colonel (voice of James Cromwell) makes the stallion into a personal obsession.
There is also a scene of perfect wordless communication between Spirit and a small Indian child who fearlessly approaches the stallion at a time when he feels little but alarm about humans. The two creatures, one giant, one tiny, tentatively reach out to each other, and the child's absolute trust is somehow communicated to the horse. I remembered the great scene in "The Black Stallion" (1979) where the boy and the horse edge together from the far sides of the wide screen.
In the absence of much dialogue, the songs by rocker Bryan Adams fill in some of the narrative gaps, and although some of them simply comment on the action (a practice I find annoying), they are in the spirit of the story. The film is short at 82 minutes, but surprisingly moving, and has a couple of really thrilling sequences, one involving a train wreck and the other a daring leap across a chasm. Uncluttered by comic supporting characters and cute sidekicks, "Spirit" is more pure and direct than most of the stories we see in animation--a fable I suspect younger viewers will strongly identify with.
DreamWorks selected the now-named Spirit when he was a colt. Born to a stallion and mare that had been captured by the BLM in Oregon, Spirit was (and still is) a beautiful example of the Kiger mustang breed. His wide-set eyes and thick, wavy, multicolored tail and mane became the inspiration for the animated horse that still steals hearts all these years later.
Now 25 years old, Spirit keeps busy enjoying life at the sanctuary. He spends his days interacting with a few of his equine friends and enjoying attention and care from his favorite humans. He was born in captivity, but the spirit of independence and the wild west lives in his veins. And thanks to Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, his image will continue to show others that freedom is always worth fighting for.
A wild stallion has his first encounter with humans when he is caught by cavalrymen and taken to an army fort. But despite the rough training tactics taken by the officers (that may be traumatic to young viewers), Spirit is determined to get back to his herd.
An animated tale of the old and very wild west, when stallions ran free. We follow Spirit, a mustang stallion, from birth to adulthood, watching his first encounter with humans, his developing friendship with Native Americans, and how he fell in love with a paint mare named Rain. We also see how progress encroached on the lives of the stallions. Narrated by Matt Damon, it also features the voices of James Cromwell and Daniel Studi. [1:22]
SEX/NUDITY 1 - A stallion and a mare flirt and nuzzle in several scenes. A mare delivers a colt: we see her swollen belly, hear her whinnying in pain and then see the baby. A newborn colt nurses from his mother and we see his mouth covered with milk. A man kisses a horse thinking he's a woman (the man is asleep at the time).
VIOLENCE/GORE 3 - A horse is shot during a battle scene where troops invade a Native American camp, pulling down tee-pees and firing guns. A train slides down a mountain while a stallion runs away from it: the train crashes through a shack, there's a large explosion and a fire spreads through the surrounding forest following a stallion as he gallops away. A stallion jumps a very wide divide between two cliffs. A stallion is tied to a post and left without food or water for three days, and a man is tied to a post. A mare falls into rapids and a stallion jumps in to try to rescue her; they flow through the rapids and over a waterfall and the mare lies wounded on the shore. A stallion and a Native American jump off a cliff into water below. A man dangles from a stallion's mane as they run along a narrow path along a sheer cliff. A man pulls a gun on a horse, and another man knocks the gun out of his hand. Horses are whipped to drive them to pull a train over a mountain. A mountain lion chases two colts and a stallion fights it off: the stallion rears up and waves his hooves at the mountain lion, the mountain lion jumps on the stallion's back but is tossed off and the stallion comes down hard on the ground next to the mountain lion that's now lying on the ground. There are several scenes where a stallion is chased by men on horseback: the stallion manages to knock several men off their horses, and the stallion is caught by ropes around his neck and/or legs a couple of times. There is a painful scene when a stallion is dragged away from a mare and she cries for him. A stallion falls to the ground (pretending to be unconscious), chains are wrapped around his legs and he is dragged away. A gun is fired to stop a horse from struggling. There are several scenes of men trying to break a stallion: six or seven men try to ride a stallion and they are head-butted and tossed off his back, one manages to stay on for some time even though the horse rams him into fence posts and bucks wildly, but the man is eventually thrown and lands hard on the ground. A stallion runs through a fort with a man dangling from his back, breaking down gates, the horse head-butts a man, and he tosses another man into a dung pile. A stallion is tied to poles for grooming: the stallion kicks the groomer in the backside, headbutts him in the head and kicks him in the eye (we see the man's black eye). The animals do not communicate with words, but by whinnying and body language: there are scenes when it is obvious that the horses are angry with each other or with humans. A man is conked on the head with a boot that was tossed off a horse's snout. A stallion is knocked down when another horse wraps a rope around his legs. A colt's tongue sticks to an icicle. A baby grabs a stallion's nostrils and pulls, causing him some pain. A colt hears a rumbling and when he turns around, he sees a huge herd of bison standing right behind him. There are some explosions when men are trying to lay railroad tracks through a mountain.
DreamWorks selected the now-named Spirit when he was a colt. Born to a stallion and mare that had been captured by the BLM in Oregon, Spirit was (and still is) a beautiful example of the Kiger mustang breed. His wide-set eyes and thick, wavy, multi-colored tail and mane became the inspiration for the animated horse that is still stealing hearts all these years later. 2b1af7f3a8