Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron


Matt Damon as Spirit / Narrator
James Cromwell as Cavalry Colonel
Daniel Studi as Little Creek

Special Features:
Spirit’s Make-A-Movie Studio (DVD-ROM)
Learn To Draw Spirit
The Animation of Spirit
The Songs of Spirit
Filmmaker’s Commentary
15 Interactive Games including Hillside Glide, Cimarron Slam, Wild West Word Wrangle, Lakota Decoder, and Teepee Tees

Other Info:
Full Screen (1:33:1)
Running Time: 83 Mins.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
English, Spanish, and French Audio Tracks
English, French, and Spanish Subtitles

In the early days of the American West, Spirit is a young wild stallion. He is energetic, free, and curious. Spirit leads his herd of fellow horses through the untamed wilderness. However, he comes across a new curiosity – man. Unfortunately, Spirit’s curiosity gets the better of him and he is captured by the humans. They take him to a U.S. Cavalry fort led by a tough, no-nonsense colonel. They try to break Spirit, but he stubbornly defies them. When things take a turn for the worse, Spirit escapes with a Native American prisoner named Little Creek. Unfortunately, Spirit finds himself a prisoner of man again. But things are a little different this time when he meets Little Creek’s horse, a mare named Rain. As Spirit falls in love with Rain, he begins to think humans may not be so bad after all. But what will he do when he finds himself torn between the world of Rain and his herd of wild horses back home?

Spirit never talks on the film, but his thoughts are narrated by Matt Damon. The songs are written by Bryan Adams.

The Movie:
I first reviewed this movie upon its theatrical release. You can read my thoughts on it here. “Spirit” is a fun family film in the unique setting of the American frontier. While not groundbreaking, it is entertaining.

The animation looks really good on the home theater system. There’s a great blend of computer animation and 2D animation. The opening shots of the eagle flying through the canyon are impressive. They do a great job of animating grass blowing in the wind around the horses. The water in a scene involving rapids looks pretty good, too. Overall it is well animated. The colors really jump out at you more at home than they did on the big screen.

This film has a nice blending of action and humor. There are two or three impressive chases in the film that get your heart racing. There’s also a surprisingly explosive big finish that is exciting. They do a good job with the laughs as well. There’s a funny scene where a blacksmith tries to brand Spirit. Needless to say, he’s not very successful.

Bryan Adams provides the music. His singing ranges from cheesy to impressive. If you like his work, then you’ll probably enjoy it a lot. If not, then watch out. However, Hans Zimmer’s score is what really drives the film. His music is fast paced and uplifting. Zimmer’s work really helps enhance Spirit’s wild and free nature. This music sounds fantastic on the home theater system. It stands out a lot more upon second viewings of the movie.

The Extras:
The extras on this DVD are, appropriately, geared towards children. There are a ton of games on this DVD that are accessible over your TV and through the computer. The coolest one I found over the TV was a shooting gallery game. You aim and fire at the targets that pop out and it tallies up your score at the end. Another one is a racing game where you hit your “right” button faster and faster to make Spirit run. I don’t know the programming behind it, but it works pretty well.

Though geared towards kids, the “Learn to Draw Spirit with a Dreamworks Animator” was fun. From a stick figure to a colored drawing, you are walked through the details of drawing the stallion. This ends up being a fascinating little feature that’s interesting for adults and should really allow you to be able to draw the character.

The Animation of Spirit, though short, gives you a quick look at how the animators combined traditional 2-D hand drawn animation of CG 3-D animation. The combination of techniques allows them to create some first rate animated scenes. The video also gets into the tricks and troubles behind animating horses. Watching the animators learn horse anatomy, it’s a lot more difficult to draw expressive horses than you might expect. You get a new appreciation for their artistic efforts on this movie.

The Songs of Spirit is another very short video discussing the work of Hans Zimmer and Bryan Adams. You get a real sense of how Zimmer tried a lot of different music styles before settling on what you hear in the movie. It’s interesting to listen to him talk about his thought processes behind it. After watching the video, you also realize just how much work Bryan Adams put into his songs and lyrics. This wasn’t something he phoned in.

The storyboards are featured from a number of the key action sequences. You can turn on the commentary by the directors, too, as they play out.

The Bottom Line:
The Spirit DVD is a great treat for kids. Adults may not be terribly impressed with it, but the DVD really enhances the movie.