Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron

Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

In the world of animation animals are good. The question is, do they speak? Nine times out of 10 the answer is, "How much?", meaning, "How much can we afford to pay B-list movie stars to voice the creatures?"

The boys-in-the-backroom at DreamWorks are on a tight budget - gee-gee chatter is out. They compromise and add a narrative VO (Matt Damon), which has nothing to do with making a stand on the Disneyfication of four-leggeds. It's basic business practice: a neigh costs less than a sentence.

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Spirit is advertised as "from the producers of Shrek." Don't kid yourself. There is nothing Shrekish about an unbroken stallion in the wide open spaces of the not-yet-U-nite-D States, having adventures with nasty palefaced two-leggeds and a nice native lad, called Little Creek.

The computed-generated animation is not in the same stable as Shrek and sentimentality runneth over. However, its heart is in the right place and the lack of cynicism comes as a pleasant surprise. Harmlessly melodic and oh-so-predictable soft rock ballads (Bryan Adams) lubricate the middle mind. Six-year-olds will love it. Twelve-year-olds will scorn.

The beauty of the landscape, stretching across vast areas of virgin country, is exhilarating, even if it excludes the cruelty of nature and its harsh conditions. Spirit's story is simple and, to give it credit, makes no pretence at presenting history as anything but a picture postcard.

Bambi should be relocated in the Neo-Realism section compared to Spirit's political correctness. It's OK now to see cowboys for what they were and Native Americans as fine people of noble race.

John Wayne RIP. The animals stay wild. Horses have souls. Colonisation stinks and once upon a time children's films were for children.

Spirit may be sweet in tooth and claw, but, hey, who wants nuclear winter, or the destruction of the rainforests, when the sun shines bright where the eagles fly?

Reviewed on: 03 Jul 2002
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Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron packshot
A brave horse struggles to defend his herd in a changing world.
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Director: Kelly Asbury, Lorna Cook

Writer: John Fusco

Starring: Matt Damon, James Cromwell, Daniel Studi, Chopper Bernet, Jeff LeBeau

Year: 2002

Runtime: 83 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: US

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