Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Entertainment: +3 1/2
Acceptability: +2 1/2

Matt Damon voices the narration in DreamWorks new animated film that shows the West before the turn of the 1900's, from a horses point of view. As an eagle majestically soars through pristine mountains, over beautiful sparkling rivers and races with buffalo, it ends up gliding over a beautiful palomino mare in labor. She raises her head and snickers when Spirit, a beautiful, buckskin-colored colt, is born. Spirit and his mother quickly join their herd of wild mustang horses, romping through snow, galloping through water, nipping and kicking through pastures of thick grass. As he grows, Spirit becomes the leader of the Cimarron herd, bravely protecting the mares and foals. One day, from a great distance, a new smell catches the stallions attention. His curiosity wins out and, against the wishes of the mares, he investigates the strange odor. The smell is man, and soon, after a wild chase, Spirit finds ropes around his neck. Led captive to a cavalry fort, he feels cruelly treated, but he gives as good as he gets, biting, kicking and charging the men. At the fort, he meets Little Creek, a young Lakota Indian brave. The gentle and kind Little Creek helps Spirit make a daring escape, with soldiers guns blazing after them. But Little Creek and Spirit do not enjoy their freedom long. The soldiers attack the Lakota camp, and in the process Spirits girl friend Rain, Little Creeks paint mare, is mortally wounded. Re-captured, Spirit is taken to a railroad camp where hes forced to help haul a huge locomotive up a steep grade. But remembering his herd, Spirit once again devises a plan to escape. Balanced with a thought-revealing soundtrack, SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON is a treat for ages 6 and up.

Much of the film is primarily visual, with Spirits thoughts indicated by gestures or expressed in the limited narration and beautiful music. Although no swear words are heard, the cowboys stop just short of using offensive words. The underlying themes focus on, remembering who you are and the importance of freedom. To accent Spirits unconquered heart, the music states You are a soldier in a battle fighting to be free. Curiosity proves to be a trap for Spirit. But the film also touches on some darker elements of white mans expansion into the West as the soldiers seem somewhat vicious dealing with Spirit and Little Creeks people. When the Calvary tries to break the headstrong horse, they tie him to a post and leave him without food and water for three days. After Little Creek is captured, they do the same to him. As soldiers try to ride Spirit, they use crops and spurs. Young viewers especially may be upset when Rain is shot, and Little Creek tenderly comforts the wounded animal. The action, as the train engine tumbles through buildings and explodes, endangering Spirit, is extremely intense for younger viewers. However, SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON is a highly entertaining story set in a historical context, that could spark some excellent dialogue between parents and children.

Preview Reviewer: Theresa Zumwalt
Distributor: DreamWorks SKG, 1000 Flower St., Glendale, CA 91201

Crude Language: None, but implied when mens comments cut short 'What the ...,' 'Son-of-a-...'
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: None
Violence: Many times Moderate (Intense action scenes - mountain lion fights stallion, soldiers attempt to ride Spirit using spurs and whip, guns fired at people and animals, train falls down a mountain and explodes)
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other: Colt shown nursing from mother
Running Time: 82 minutes
Intended Audience: Age 6 and older

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