Making the Grades
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.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron.
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?