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Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

If history is written by the victors, then what is a film like 2002's Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron except a declaration of white guilt? This animated children's fable follows the horse Spirit (whose interior monologues are vocalized by Matt Damon and presented musically through the soft-rock tunes of Bryan Adams) as he grows up. Fiercely independent, Spirit gets caught by some evil white men, led by The Colonel (voiced by James Cromwell), who attempt to break Spirit's, er... spirit. But Spirit proves too spirited and won't put up with any spirit-crushing predicaments, breaking free with the help of Native American prisoner Little Creek (Daniel Studi). Once the two escape, Little Creek tries to convince Spirit to live with his tribe, especially after Little Creek introduces him to a pretty pony. The moral of Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron appears to be an argument in favor of symbiotic relationships between people and nature, and to also believe in one's self (which, of course, aren't bad things at all). But the movie plays the like a pre-school version of Little Big Man, telling us how bad the white man was. Such may be true, but does that make it good entertainment for the munchkins? Perhaps looking for a sense of purpose or an ideology is too much to ask of a film that was made because pre-teen girls often have a borderline fetishistic relationship with horses. Certainly, the animation is technically competent. But adults may find this alternate history universe a bit odd, particularly when, at one point, Spirit leads a horse mutiny. Like Disney's 1995 Pocahontas, it's another example of questionable history lessons turned into questionable children's entertainment. DreamWorks presents Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron in separately available anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and pan-and-scan DVD releases, both with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Supplements include a commentary by co-directors Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook and producer Mireille Soria, three featurettes ("The Animation of Spirit" "The Music of Spirit" and "Learn to Draw Spirit with James Baxter"), trailers, production notes, four storyboard sequences, a section devoted to kids (including two remote-based video games), and a myriad of DVD-ROM features. Keep-case.
—DSH



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