SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON
Spirit is a wild mustang in the wild west who encounters humans but refuses to be broken. He develops two special but very different relationships with a white man Ė an army officer who thinks he can break the horse as he can tame the west Ė and a young Lakota Indian who also thinks he can tame the horse, but realises that he and the horse are both meant to be free.†
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
You have to admire Katzenberg; heís driven himself after his Disney days to catch up with the Disney oeuvre in less time than it takes to say whatís up Doc? Oh, sure, the army of slaves who toil on these major animation pictures all deserve credit and respect for their artistry and dedication, their good (usually clean) sense of fun and so on, but itís Jeff whose blood is boiling. After Shrek, a real pioneering movie, Spirit seems tame and somehow muted, but thatís because the format of animation invites comparison. The collective creative grunt assembled to breathe life into this film can take a bow, even if some of us are picky enough to note how the film succumbs to inevitable doses of schmaltz despite its good intentions. Like the fact that the horse donít talk. Yes, thereís narration, and itís the POV of the horse, and the horse is narrating Ė but thatís a far cry from a talking horse. Iím also picky about some of what Jeffrey K calls Ďtradigitalí animation; the love interest for Spirit is a fine young mare called Rain, whose features are certainly appealing. Except for her simplistic mouth. Youíll say thatís a tiny detail, but wait till you kiss a horse. Horse lips aside, there is much to admire about this work, and those who will admire it most purely are the kids. There is adventure and danger, fear and fury and a genuine affection for the horse. Itís fantasy at its best, carried along in handsome fashion by Hans Zimmerís quality compositions, aided by throaty songs from Bryan Adams, which adds a welcome texture to the mood.
Review by Louise Keller:
A breathtaking adventure for all ages, Spirit tells its poignant and uplifting story in a stunning fusion of music and images. Using a combination of traditional and digital animation, where hand-drawings are married with state of the art technology in 2D and 3D, we become so involved in the story of a magnificent mustang, it is easy to forget the horses arenít real. We look over the vast wings span of the majestic eagle as it soars over land and sea, until, deep in the wilds, we glimpse a herd of wild horses galloping free across the plains, manes flying. It is an extraordinary sight, and we watch Spirit develop from cute colt to stalwart stallion, protector of the Cimarron herd. The fact that there is hardly any dialogue makes for a powerful emotional impact, and the horsesí facial expressions, body language with the descriptive lyrics of Bryan Adams songs, tell the story. These songs integrated with Hans Zimmerís glorious score embrace the tale thoughtfully, lovingly. Zimmerís moving musical themes represent the key elements, and as extraordinary as it may sound, there is absolutely no doubt in our minds as to what the horses are thinking, saying, feeling. We hear the unspoken dialogue as clearly as if words were spoken. We know when Spirit is curious, disturbed, laughing, playing or crying. And we laugh and cry with him. When Spirit discovers man and manís curious habits and cruelties, he quickly becomes a symbol of hope, cheered on by the watching horses. My favourite scene is when Rain, an alluring piebald blonde with a becoming feather in her mane, teaches Spirit manners. To the strains of a beguiling tango and set among rich autumnal colours, this is a simply delightful sequence where the coquettish mare melts the mustangís heart. Thereís eye-rolling, laughter, sneering Ė so much expression is achieved by the flutter of an eyelash, the arch of a brow, the sideways glance through perfect almond eyes. The film crosses all barriers including language and age, using the language of the heart.
Spectacularly dramatic with the softest of hearts, Spirit is a wonderful entertainment and should not be missed. It swept me away.
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SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON (G)
VOICES: Matt Damon, James Cromwell, Daniel Studi
PRODUCER: Mireille Soria, Jeffrey Katzenberg
DIRECTOR: Kelly Asbury, Lorna Cook
SCRIPT: John Fusco
EDITOR: Nick Fletcher
MUSIC: Hans Zimmer, Bryan Adams
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Kathy Altieri
RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 20, 2002 (Brisbane); June 27 (other states)