Whoa Nelly! Not since Black Beauty told his tale of life as a cart pony have horses had a chance to air their side of the story. Now the rise and fall of the Old West is about to be seen through a whole new set of eyes -- ones set on the side of the head!
Narrated by Matt Damon, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron follows a young equine that watches over his little brood of mares until a curious red glow catches his attention. Leaving the herd in the care of his mother, Spirit takes off across the valley to investigate. Unfortunately, he's unfamiliar with the US Cavalry or with their soldiers on the hunt for 4-legged recruits.
Before long he finds himself enlisted under the command of a hard-nosed Colonel (voice by James Cromwell) who isn't about to let the pony go unbroken for long. After three days in the hot sun without food or water, the mustached commander takes to the saddle with his spurs and crop. But just when the officer thinks he's tamed this bronco, another captive at the fort helps Spirit (and the rest of the army's mounts) make an escape.
Taking him back to his village, Little Creek (voice by Daniel Studi) makes his own attempt to tame this wild charger with gentler tactics, but Spirit is determined to get back to his herd hiding in the mountains.
Set to songs by Canadian artist Bryan Adams, this film (with scenes of running horses and flowing manes) occasionally teeters on the line between music video and animated story. Although the horses don't sing, or even talk for that matter, their exaggerated eyebrows express more emotion than most critters I've encountered.
Gunfire aimed at humans and horses, along with the rough handling of animals at the fort and in the work camp, are concerns parents should consider before galloping off to see this film with their young horse lovers. However, the musical messages of courage and personal worth could still have a positive impact with a little gentle reining in.
Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...
A wild stallion has his first encounter with humans when he is caught by cavalrymen and taken to an army fort. But despite the rough training tactics taken by the officers (that may be traumatic to young viewers), Spirit is determined to get back to his herd.
Stallion fights with a mountain lion attempting to attack foals. Cowboys rope animal, knock him off his feet, and force him to follow. Animal bites, kicks and hits men with his head as well as smashes them against fences and posts. Soldiers capture a character. Several scenes include guns, some of which are fired into the air, while others are used to shoot at animals and humans. Animal is shot, appears to die. Character is hit in the head. Character uses a crop and spurs to goad an animal. Characters attack and destroy an Indian village; guns and hatchets are used during battle. Animals go over waterfall. Animal assumed to be dead. Train engine crashes into building, causing explosions and starting a massive forest fire. Animal caught in fire. Characters jump over side of high cliff while being shot at by others. Men are knocked from their horses during chase scenes.
Sexual Content: A-
Sleeping man kisses horse while dreaming. Scenes of affection shown between two horses.
Includes several instances of unfinished phrases, no profanities heard, and some name-calling.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A-
Empty liquor bottle seen in camp. Army officer smokes cigar.
Depiction of horse giving birth to foal. Animal licks cold object and gets tongue stuck to it. Animal and human are tied in the sun and left without food or water for several days. Scenes depict men attempting to break a horse for riding. Man attempts to brand a horse with a red-hot iron.
Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...
Although the Colonel says that “discipline, time and patience” are the tactics to use when training horses, his actions don’t agree. How did his methods compare with the way Little Creek handled his horse? What do you think are the best ways to treat animals, such as your pets?
Spirit wanted to get back home so he could take care of his herd. How did the animals work together to protect their young? What was the responsibility of the stallion in keeping his group safe?
When Spirit was discouraged and far away from his family, he remembered his mother. What things have your parents said or done that have given you courage when you were worried or afraid?
The Old West is the setting for legendary characters Pecos Bill, John Henry and Paul Bunyan in Tall Tale. James Cromwell plays a character with a different approach to animals in the film Babe. For other tales about horses, see The Man From Snowy River and The Silver Stallion: King Of The Wild Brumbies.
Home Video Notes
Home Video Notes: Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Release Date: 13 May 2014
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron releases to home video (Blu-ray/DVD combo pack) with the following extras:
- Director’s Commentary
- Drawing Tutorial