Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)

153863.1020.AIn this original animated adventure, we meet Spirit (Voice of Matt Damon), a noble and protective stallion that leads his group of horses along the mid-west. One night, curiosity takes over and he snoops around a confederate army camp. He gets too close for comfort and mistakenly gets caught by soldiers. Now Spirit will go on the journey of a lifetime, discovering the meaning of friendship, loyalty, courage and love. I was really hesitant to watch this movie, because animated movies in the theaters have been in a large slump, especially since watching “Lilo and Stitch” and “The Road to El Dorado”. But all my disillusionment was taken away when I laid my eyes on this. Boy, was I in for something spectacular.

Deriving a lot of its story elements from “Bambi”, it’s a really incredible story, but think of this as a more mature “Bambi” that relies on soul and symbolism rather than goofy cartoon characters. Spirit is the main character, a rather stubborn and courageous horse that acts as a symbol for wildlife. Often times he takes reckless moves at risking his life just to save others. At one point he risks being crushed by a train to save a person, and he likes to free other horses. In the movie, he also acts as a savior for many other horses. In probably the best scene in the entire movie, confederate soldiers are attempting to tame “Spirit” by riding him, but he won’t let himself be tamed like an average horse, so he throws them around like rag dolls as the other military horses look on in awe and excitement.

James Cromwell (Space Cowboys) provides the voice for the confederate general who acts as an antagonist for “Spirit” attempting to weaken him and tame him at all costs. He’s a very grim and intimidating character and gives much force to his role. Matt Damon is great as Spirit who narrates the entire movie at certain parts. We truly get to know the characters by the narration and Matt gives Spirit his humble but proud nature that he is given in the movie. David Studie plays the Native American warrior “Little Creek” who forms a strong bond with “Spirit” as the two experience life risking adventures and tragedy. He’s a great character and doesn’t provide a stereotype as a lot of cartoon movies tend to do. Don’t be fooled however, none of the animal characters talk, at all, throughout the entire movie. A lot of the movie relies on symbolism and actions within the characters perimeters.

The horses only neigh a lot and furrow their brows, while the human characters never truly have a full paragraph of lines except for Cromwell’s character. And it’s because of that fact, that this movie becomes more than animated film, but becomes a work of art. There’s no goofy squirrel or bird cheering Spirit on through the movie, which I thank “DreamWorks” for. The landscape is phenomenal, presenting a lot of the old west you never see in the movies. When the movie wants to look majestic, the colors truly emanate, but when it wants to look grim, it can look very grim and moody; I was breath taken. All of that is accompanied by a soundtrack by Bryan Adams who provides excellent theme songs to much of the movie’s fantastic moments. What separates this animated movie from the rest? Well, this has an actual story, and an actual story that means something and gives kids an incredible message. .