Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

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Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byKelly Asbury
Lorna Cook
Produced byMax Howard
Mireille Soria
Jeffrey Katzenberg
Written byJohn Fusco
Narrated byMatt Damon
StarringMatt Damon
James Cromwell
Daniel Studi
Music byHans Zimmer
Editing byNick Fletcher
Clare De Chenu
StudioDreamWorks Animation
Distributed byDreamWorks Pictures
Release dates
  • May 24, 2002 (2002-05-24)
Running time83 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$80 million[1]
Box office$122,563,539[1]
 
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Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byKelly Asbury
Lorna Cook
Produced byMax Howard
Mireille Soria
Jeffrey Katzenberg
Written byJohn Fusco
Narrated byMatt Damon
StarringMatt Damon
James Cromwell
Daniel Studi
Music byHans Zimmer
Editing byNick Fletcher
Clare De Chenu
StudioDreamWorks Animation
Distributed byDreamWorks Pictures
Release dates
  • May 24, 2002 (2002-05-24)
Running time83 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$80 million[1]
Box office$122,563,539[1]

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (or sometimes called Spirit) is a 2002 American animated epic western dramedy film that was released by DreamWorks Pictures. It follows the adventures of a young Kiger mustang stallion living in the 19th century wild west. The film, written by John Fusco and directed by Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. 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 sounds and body language. Spirit's thoughts are narrated by his voice actor Matt Damon, but otherwise he has no dialogue.[2] This is the second film, after Chicken Run, and DreamWorks' only traditionally animated film with a G rating from the MPAA. This is also the only hand-drawn DreamWorks film to be nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar.

Plot[edit]

The film starts with a brief introduction in the 19th-century American West featuring a bald eagle gliding over the homeland of the mustangs, showing several western US National Parks. There is then a scene showing the birth of a dun Kiger Mustang, Spirit (voiced in his narrations by Matt Damon). Spirit soon grows into a stallion, and assumes the role of leader of the herd, whose duty it is to keep the herd safe, demonstrated when he saves two foals from a mountain lion.

Spirit is a courageous leader, but has a serious mischievous streak and great curiosity. Spotting a strange light one night not far from his herd, the stallion is unable to control his curiosity and moves towards it. To Spirit's surprise, he finds restrained, docile horses, and two-legs (possibly wranglers) sleeping around a campfire. They wake up, and seeing him as a magnificent specimen, chase and capture him, then drag him to a US cavalry post. During this time, the army is fighting the Indian Wars and taking over the soon-to-be western United States. Frightened and confused, all around him Spirit sees horses used as 'slaves', branded and putting up no resistance to being ridden.

There, he encounters "The Colonel" (voiced by James Cromwell). The Colonel decides to tame the mustang, refusing to believe the idea of Spirit being too stubborn, but Spirit manages to fight off the brander even when heavily restrained and throws off all who attempt to ride him, impressing the other horses and reigniting their spirit. Trying to punish Spirit for stubbornness, The Colonel orders him to be tied to the post for three days with no food or water.

During this time, a Lakota Native American named Little Creek (voiced by Daniel Studi) is also brought into the fort and held captive until he answers questions on the lands. Spirit is then broken in by the Colonel, who speaks his idea of how any wild horse can be tamed. Spirit gets a second wind and throws off the Colonel. When the Colonel gets frustrated and tries to shoot him, with Little Creek's help, they, along with many army horses, escape the post. Little Creek's own mare, Rain, meets them along with other Indians, who capture Spirit.

After returning to the Lakota village, Little Creek tries to tame Spirit with kindness and, while it is more successful than army methods, Spirit refuses to be ridden. Little Creek ties Spirit and Rain together and, when he tries to leave, she insists on staying, then shows him her world. Spirit begins to warm to the Lakota and falls in love with the mare. However, his romantic affections for Rain do not soften his yearning to be free.

At the end of their time together, Little Creek tries again to ride Spirit, but while they have become friends, Spirit is still unwilling to be ridden. Little Creek decides that Spirit will never be tamed and frees him. As Spirit asks Rain to come with him to his herd, a Cavalry Regiment led by the Colonel ransacks the Lakota village. During a vicious battle, Rain is shot by the Colonel, knocking her into the river while Spirit knocks the Colonel off his horse, saving Little Creek's life. Spirit dives into the river to try to rescue Rain, but is unsuccessful and they both plummet over a waterfall. Spirit finds Rain dying from her injuries and stays by her side until cavalry scouts tear him away and sell him to be used for the constructing railroad. Watching Spirit pulled away, Little Creek arrives, vows to free the mustang once and for all to satisfy his life-debt and follows the men after tending to his own mare.

Spirit and other stolen horses are loaded onto a train and taken to a work site on the Transcontinental Railroad, where they are put to work pulling a steam locomotive. Not understanding, Spirit takes it as another challenge and is pulling towards freedom when he realises that if the track extends along its present course, it will infringe on his homeland. Spirit feigns injuries resulting from exhaustion, then breaks free from the sledge carrying the locomotive and breaks the chains holding the other horses to the sledge. They escape, and the locomotive falls off its sledge and rolls down the steep hill chasing Spirit. When they reach the work site where the wrecked locomotive demolishes two builings and collides with another locomotive already under steam at the railhead, causing the boiler to explode, destroying both trains and setting the camp and woods on fire (after the fire that starts in the camp blows up a building storing explosives). Little Creek appears, saves Spirit from the wildfire and takes him to safety.

The next morning, the Colonel and his men find Spirit and Little Creek playing with each other. A climactic chase scene ensues on winding rock passages that lead to the Grand Canyon, where the two again outsmart the Army soldiers. Eventually Spirit and Little Creek are trapped by a gorge and forced by the army to summit onto a cliff which faces over the deep steep gorge; beyond it is open space. Checkmated, Little Creek gives up but Spirit manages to gain the courage and strength to leap off the cliff and onto the open land. Spirit's move for victory amazes the Colonel so much that he stops his men from shooting the two. Then, knowing it's for the best, the Colonel exchanges nods of respect and farewell to Spirit & Little Creek before walking off with the rest of the soldiers.

Spirit returns to the rebuilt Lakota village with Little Creek and finds Rain still alive, nursed back to health by the Lakota people. Little Creek decides to name the Kiger mustang "Spirit-Who-Could-Not-Be-Broken" and sets Spirit and Rain free. He also took the feather out of Rain's mane that he promise her that she will always be in his heart. Spirit and Rain travel day and night to his homeland. Eventually, the two horses joyfully meet up with Spirit's own herd, including his mother. Viewers then see the eagle as he flies up into clouds shaped like horses.

Cast[edit]

Voice Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron was made over the course of four years using a conscious blend of traditional hand-drawn animation and computer animation in a technique the film's creators dubbed "tradigital animation." DreamWorks purchased a horse as the model for Spirit and brought the horse to the animation studio in Glendale, California for the animators to study. In the sound department, recordings of real horses were used for the sounds of the many horse characters' hoof beats as well as their vocalizations. None of the animal characters in the film speak English beyond occasional reflective narration from the protagonist mustang (voice of Matt Damon). Many of the animators who worked on Spirit also worked on Shrek 2, and their influence can be seen in the horses in that film, such as Prince Charming's horse from the opening sequence and Donkey's horse form.

Writer John Fusco, best known for his work in the Western and Native American genres (such as the movie Young Guns (film) and it's sequel Young Guns II), was hired by DreamWorks to create an original screenplay based on an idea by Jeffrey Katzenberg. Fusco began by writing and submitting a novella to the studio, and then adapted his own work into screenplay format. He remained on the project as the main writer over the course of four years, working closely with Katzenberg, the directors, and artists.

Makers of the film took a trip to the western United States to view scenic places that they could use as inspiration for locations in the film. The homeland of the mustangs and Lakotas is based on Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and the Grand Teton mountain range. The cavalry outpost appears to be located at Monument Valley. The canyon of the climax looks like Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon.

Music[edit]

The instrumental score was composed by Hans Zimmer with songs by Bryan Adams in both the English and French versions of the album. The opening theme song for the film, "Here I Am" was written by Bryan Adams, Gretchen Peters, and Hans Zimmer. It was produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Another song, not included in the film itself (although it can be heard in the ending credits), is "Don't Let Go", which is sung by Bryan Adams with Sarah McLachlan on harmonies and piano. It was written by Bryan Adams, Gavin Greenaway, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, and Gretchen Peters. Many of the songs and arrangements were set in the American West, with themes based on love, landscapes, brotherhood, struggles, and journeys. Garth Brooks was originally supposed to write and record songs for the film but the deal fell through.

The Spanish versions of the tracks on the album were sung by Erik Rubín (Hispanic America) and Raúl (Spain). The Brazilian version of the movie soundtrack were sung in Portuguese by Paulo Ricardo.

Critical reception[edit]

The film received mostly positive reviews. Based on 126 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron has an overall "fresh" approval rating of 69%, with a weighted average score of 6.4/10.[3] Top critic, Roger Ebert, said in his review of the film, "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." Leonard Maltin considered the film as "One of the most beautiful and exciting animated features ever made". Reel Source News called Spirit, "The Best Animated Story Since The Lion King". Clay Smith of Access Hollywood considered the film "An Instant Classic".

The film was screened out of competition at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.[4]

Rain received an honorary registration certificate from the American Paint Horse Association (APHA), which has registered more than 670,000 American Paint Horses to date. She is the first animated horse to be registered by this organization.

Political orientation claims[edit]

Critics have claimed the film has a liberal slant. Conservative pundits claim that view of Native Americans is revisionist. Christopher Miller, of the JMP Press said, "Despite the terrific animation, the film has a clear message that Caucasian settlers, the logging industry and any technological advance is meant to cage and kill anyone or anything that gets in their way." [5]

Box office[edit]

When the film opened on Memorial Day Weekend 2002, the film earned $17,770,036 on the Friday-Sunday period, and $23,213,736 through the four-day weekend for a $6,998 average from 3,317 theaters. The film overall opened in fourth place behind Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, Spider-Man and Insomnia. In its second weekend, the film retreated 36% to $11,303,814 for a $3,362 average from expanding to 3,362 theaters and finishing in fifth place for the weekend. In its third weekend, the film experienced a good hold of only a 18% slippage to $9,303,808 for a $2,767 average from 3,362 theaters. The film closed on September 12, 2002 after earning $73,280,117 domestically with an additional $49,283,422 overseas for a worldwide total of $122,563,539, against an $80 million budget, making it a moderate box office success.

Awards[edit]

ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards

AwardWinner/Nominee Recipient(s)Result
Top Box Office FilmsHans Zimmer
Bryan Adams
Won

Academy Awards

AwardWinner/Nominee Recipient(s)Result
Best Animated FeatureJeffrey KatzenbergNominated

Annie Awards

AwardWinner/Nominee Recipient(s)Result
Animated Theatrical FeatureNominated
Individual Achievement in StoryboardingRonnie Del CarmenWon
Individual Achievement in StoryboardingLarry LekerNominated
Individual Achievement in StoryboardingSimon WellsNominated
Individual Achievement in Production DesignLuc DesmarchelierWon
Individual Achievement in Character DesignCarlos GrangelWon
Individual Achievement in Effects AnimationYancy LandquistWon
Individual Achievement in Effects AnimationJamie LloydNominated

Critics Choice Awards

AwardWinner/Nominee Recipient(s)Result
Best Animated FeatureNominated

Genesis Awards

AwardWinner/Nominee Recipient(s)Result
Feature FilmWon

Golden Globes

AwardWinner/Nominee Recipient(s)Result
Best Original Song - Motion PictureHans Zimmer (music)
Bryan Adams (lyrics)
Gretchen Peters (lyrics)
for the song "Here I Am"
Nominated

Kids' Choice Awards

AwardWinner/Nominee Recipient(s)Result
Favorite Voice from an Animated MovieMatt DamonNominated

Golden Reel Award

AwardWinner/Nominee Recipient(s)Result
Best Sound Editing in Animated FeaturesTim Chau (supervising sound editor)
Carmen Baker (supervising sound editor)
Jim Brookshire (supervising dialogue editor/supervising adr editor)
Nils C. Jensen (sound editor)
Albert Gasser (sound editor)
David Kern (sound editor)
Piero Mura (sound editor)
Bruce Tanis (sound editor)
Nominated
Best Sound Editing in Animated Features - MusicSlamm Andrews (music editor/scoring editor)
Robb Boyd (music editor)
Nominated

Online Film Critics Society Awards

AwardWinner/Nominee Recipient(s)Result
Best Animated FeatureNominated

Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards

AwardWinner/Nominee Recipient(s)Result
Best Animated FilmNominated

Golden Satellite Awards

AwardWinner/Nominee Recipient(s)Result
Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed MediaNominated

Visual Effects Society Awards

AwardWinner/Nominee Recipient(s)Result
Best Character Animation in an Animated Motion PictureJames BaxterNominated

Western Heritage Awards

AwardWinner/Nominee Recipient(s)Result
Theatrical Motion PictureMireille Soria (producer)
Jeffrey Katzenberg (producer)
Kelly Asbury (director)
Lorna Cook (director)
John Fusco (writer)
Matt Damon (principal actor)
James Cromwell (principal actor)
Daniel Studi (principal actor)
Won

World Soundtrack Awards

AwardWinner/Nominee Recipient(s)Result
Best Original Song Written for a FilmHans Zimmer
Bryan Adams (lyricist/performer)
R.J. Lange (lyricist)
for the song "This Is Where I Belong"
Won
Best Original Song Written for a FilmHans Zimmer
Bryan Adams (lyricist/performer)
Gretchen Peters (lyricist)
for the song "Here I Am"
Won

Young Artist Awards

AwardWinner/Nominee Recipient(s)Result
Best Family Feature Film - AnimationWon

Home video[edit]

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron was released on VHS and DVD on November 19, 2002. It was re-released on DVD on May 18, 2010.[6] It will be released on Blu-ray on March 11, 2014.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron Box Office". BoxOfficeMojo. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  2. ^ Laura Clifford. "Spirit review". Reelingreviews.com. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  3. ^ "Spirit - Stallion of the Cimarron". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  4. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-11-04. 
  5. ^ Miller, Christopher (12 August 2002). "Spirit:Stallion of the Cimarron - When great animation changes history.". JMP Press. 
  6. ^ http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003E66Y3E/ref=s9_psimh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1HQYMDKN0NVT9YG48HZG&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200422&pf_rd_i=507846
  7. ^ http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Spirit-Stallion-of-the-Cimarron-Blu-ray/92033/

External links[edit]