Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

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Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Kelly Asbury
Lorna Cook
Produced by Max Howard
Mireille Soria
Jeffrey Katzenberg
Written by John Fusco
Story by Jeffrey Katzenberg
Starring Matt Damon
James Cromwell
Daniel Studi
Music by Hans Zimmer
Edited by Nick Fletcher
Clare De Chenu
Distributed by DreamWorks Pictures[1]
Release dates
  • May 24, 2002 (2002-05-24)
Running time
83 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $80 million[2]
Box office $122,563,539[2]

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is a 2002 American animated western drama film that that was produced and released by DreamWorks Pictures.[1] 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.[3]


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. 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 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, Spirit sees horses used as 'slaves' all around him. There, he encounters "The Colonel". He 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. To punish Spirit, The Colonel orders him to be tied to a post for three days with no food or water.

During this time, a Lakota Native American named Little Creek is also brought into the fort and held captive until he answers questions. 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 him off. When the Colonel gets frustrated and tries to shoot him, with Little Creek's help, they, along with other horses, escape the post. Little Creek's mare, Rain, meets them along with other natives who capture Spirit. After returning to the Lakota village, Little Creek tries to tame Spirit with kindness, but 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 up to Little Creek and falls in love with the mare. At the end of their time together, Little Creek tries again to ride him, but Spirit is still unwilling. He then 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 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 scouts capture him. Watching Spirit being pulled away, Little Creek arrives, vowing to free him to satisfy his life-debt and follows the men after tending to Rain. Spirit and other stolen horses are then 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 when he realizes that if the track extends along its present course, it will infringe on his homeland. Spirit feigns injuries resulting from exhaustion but breaks free from the sledge and breaks the chains holding the other horses. They escape, and the locomotive falls off its sledge and rolls down the hill chasing Spirit. When they reach the work site where the locomotive demolishes a building as it plows through it, then it crashes into another locomotive parked on the tracks and smashes into it, but because the locomotive is already under steam, its boiler explodes as it's being crushed. After the locomotive explosion, Spirit rushes out of the work site as the spreading flame starts to set it on fire. As it does, it lights a shed aflame which explodes because it was stored with explosives. The explosion causes a forest fire, and Spirit starts to gallop away as fast as he could, but the end of the chain that is wrapped around his neck gets snagged on a fallen tree Little Creek appears in time and saves Spirit from the wildfire. The next morning, the Colonel and his men find Spirit and Little Creek playing with each other. A climactic chase scene ensues on rock passages that lead to the Grand Canyon, where the two again outsmart the soldiers. Eventually, they are trapped by a gorge and forced to summit onto a cliff which faces over the gorge (beyond it is open space). Little Creek gives up, but Spirit manages to gain the bravery to leap off the cliff and onto the open land.

Spirit's move amazes the Colonel; he stops his men from shooting the two. Knowing it's for the best, the Colonel exchanges nods of respect to the two 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 Spirit the "Spirit-Who-Could-Not-Be-Broken" and sets him and Rain free. He also removes the feather out of Rain's mane and promises 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. The eagle then appears as he flies up into horse-shaped clouds.

Voice cast[edit]



Writer John Fusco, best known for his work in the Western and Native American genres (such as the films Young Guns and 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.


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 SKG 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.

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.


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 Italian versions of the songs were sung by Zucchero.

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. The Norwegian versions of the songs were sung by Vegard Ylvisåker of the Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis. The French version of the movie soundtrack were sung in French by Bryan Adams.



Based on 126 reviews collected by review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron has an overall "fresh" approval rating of 69%, with a weighted average score of 6.4/10.[4] 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.[5]

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."[6]

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 an 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 in the United States and Canada 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.


Award Category Winner/Nominee recipient(s) Result
ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards[7] Top Box Office Hans Zimmer
Bryan Adams
Academy Awards[8] Best Animated Feature Jeffrey Katzenberg Nominated
Annie Awards[9] Animated Theatrical Feature Nominated
Individual Achievement in Storyboarding Ronnie Del Carmen Won
Larry Leker Nominated
Simon Wells Nominated
Individual Achievement in Production Design Luc Desmarchelier Won
Individual Achievement in Character Design Carlos Grangel Won
Individual Achievement in Effects Animation Yancy Landquist Won
Jamie Lloyd Nominated
Critics Choice Awards[10] Best Animated Feature Nominated
Genesis Awards[11] Feature Film' Won
Golden Globes[12] Best Original Song - Motion Picture Hans Zimmer (music)
Bryan Adams (lyrics)
Gretchen Peters (lyrics)
for the song "Here I Am"
Kids' Choice Awards[13] Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie Matt Damon Nominated
Golden Reel Award[14] Best Sound Editing in Animated Features Tim 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)
Best Sound Editing in Animated Features - Music Slamm Andrews (music editor/scoring editor)
Robb Boyd (music editor)
Online Film Critics Society Awards[15] Best Animated Feature Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards Best Animated Film Nominated
Golden Satellite Awards[16] Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media Nominated
Visual Effects Society Awards[17] Best Character Animation in an Animated Motion Picture James Baxter Nominated
Western Heritage Awards[18] Theatrical Motion Picture Mireille 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)
World Soundtrack Awards[19] Best Original Song Written for a Film Hans Zimmer
Bryan Adams (lyricist/performer)
R.J. Lange (lyricist)
for the song "This Is Where I Belong"
Best Original Song Written for a Film Hans Zimmer
Bryan Adams (lyricist/performer)
Gretchen Peters (lyricist)
for the song "Here I Am"
Young Artist Awards[20] Best Family Feature Film - Animation Won

Home media[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.[21] The film was released on Blu-ray in Germany on April 3, 2014, in Australia on April 4, and in the United States and Canada on May 13, 2014.[22]

The film was re-released on Blu-Ray by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on October 19, 2014.[23] It includes a movie ticket to Penguins of Madagascar.

Video games[edit]

Two video games based on the film were released on October 28, 2002 by THQ: the PC game Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron — Forever Free and the Game Boy Advance game Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron — Search For Homeland.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c McCarthy, Todd (May 12, 2002). "Review: ‘Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron’". Variety. Retrieved September 12, 2002. 
  2. ^ a b "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron Box Office". BoxOfficeMojo. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  3. ^ Laura Clifford. "Spirit review". Reelingreviews.com. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  4. ^ "Spirit - Stallion of the Cimarron". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  5. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-11-04. 
  6. ^ Miller, Christopher (12 August 2002). "Spirit:Stallion of the Cimarron - When great animation changes history.". JMP Press. 
  7. ^ "ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards - Top Box Office". ASCAP. April 30, 2003. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Nominees & Winners for the 75th Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  9. ^ Martin, Denise (January 5, 2003). "‘Lilo’ leads Annie noms with 10". Variety. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  10. ^ Lowe, R. Kinsey (December 18, 2002). "Critics' Choice nominees are ...". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  11. ^ umane Society of The United States (February 25, 2003). "The Humane Society of The United States Announces Winners of The Seventeenth Annual Genesis Awards" (Press release). PR Newswire. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  12. ^ Lyman, Rick (December 20, 2002). "'Chicago' and 'The Hours' Lead Golden Globes Race". The New York Times. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Nickelodeon's 16TH Annual Kids' Choice Awards Takes Stars, Music and Mess to the Next Level on Saturday, April 12 Live from Barker Hangar in Santa Monica" (Press release). Nickelodeon. February 13, 2003. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  14. ^ Martin, Denise (February 7, 2003). "‘Gangs,’ ‘Perdition’ top Golden Reel nods". Variety. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  15. ^ "2002 Awards (6th Annual)". Online Film Critics Society. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  16. ^ Berkshire, Geoff (December 17, 2002). "‘Towers’ stands tall in Satellites". Variety. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  17. ^ "1st Annual VES Awards". Visual Effects Society. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Winners announced for Western Heritage Awards". NewsOK. February 7, 2003. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  19. ^ Boehm, Erich (August 23, 2002). "Flanders unveils soundtrack noms". Variety. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Twenty-Fourth Annual Young Artist Awards". Young Artist Awards. March 29, 2003. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Amazon.com: Spirit: Stallion of Cimarron: Spirit-Stallion of the Cimarron: Movies & TV". Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  22. ^ "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  23. ^ http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Spirit-Stallion-of-the-Cimarron-Blu-ray/118407/
  24. ^ THQ (October 28, 2002). "THQ Ships ``Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron -- Search for Homeland for Game Boy Advance and ``Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron -- Forever Free for PC" (Press release). THQ. Retrieved December 6, 2014. 

External links[edit]