Imagine following a wild mustang’s adventure to escape the white man’s domination over an untamed American frontier and its courageous attempt to return home.
Dreamworks’ animated film “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,” directed by Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook, takes an audience on that adventure by vividly portraying the journey for freedom.
The film presents a respected leader of the Cimarron herd, a horse appropriately named Spirit (Matt Damon), who is captured numerous times by early English settlers and the Lakota American Indian tribe.
When a determined Cavalry colonel (James Cromwell) fails at breaking the defiant horse, a captured Indian brave named Little Creek (Daniel Studi), along with Spirit, make a dangerous escape to the Lakota village.
There, Spirit is torn between returning home or staying with Little Creek’s beautiful paint mare, Rain.
The unique aspect of the entire production is that the cartoon blends 2D and 3D animation to transform the animals and landscapes into more lifelike pictures, becoming DreamWorks’ most technologically complex animated film. Producer Jeffrey Katzenberg describes the style as taking “hand-drawn animation and marrying it together with state-of-the-art technology to create a film that is the best of both worlds.”
The movie is silent, with the exception of a brief first-person narration by the title character. Although the characters provide facial expressions to tell the story, younger viewers could not easily keep up.
Co-director Asbury said, “Bryan Adams has a very emotional, heartfelt singing style, which is appropriate because the songs tell the story from Spirit’s heart. In that way, Bryan is the heart of the film.”
“Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” opened May 24 and is in general release. The film is most accurately described by Katzenberg when he said, “It has everything: adventure, humor, suspense, romance. … It’s a classic hero’s journey: The hero just happens to be a horse.”