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Look out for more coverage of
Spirit – Stallion of
the Cimarron
in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Spirit – Stallion of
the Cimarron

VOICE CAST: Matt Damon, James Cromwell • SONGS: Bryan Adams • LEAD ANIMATOR: James Baxter • PRODUCERS: Jeffrey Katzenberg, Mireille Soria
DIRECTOR: Kelly Asbury, Lorna Cook

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. And, indeed, of the canyon. THE CONCEPT:
Combining traditional animation and CGI, with a minimum of dialogue (Matt Damon narrates the story as the voice of Spirit), this glorious movie follows the adventures of the wild and rambunctious mustang stallion as he travels through the American frontier.

U.S. RELEASE: May 24, 2002 Nationwide • Rated: G


“I’ve always wanted to animate horses. There’s always been a special connection between humans and horses. There’s something that happens when you look and see the beauty, the nobility, the power of a horse. It’s a beautiful creature. When we started this film four years ago, there had not been an animated movie told from the eyes of a four-legged creature since The Lion King.”

“All the animators had to research how a horse is put together in such detail that we could be free. We had to get through the science so that we could do the art. Dreamworks owned a horse during the production that we used as a model for Spirit. Now he’s on a ranch in central California living a great life.”

“Directing an animated film is like being a shepherd, and you have 400 really talented, opinioned sheep!”

“We actually did board several sequences with Spirit and different (animals) talking, and it just seemed to lose its viability and its real sense of drama and sincerity, and it became comical in a way. The dignity of those horses is something very wonderful and we wanted to preserve it.”

“I heard a joke recently … a horse goes into a bar and the bartender says, ‘Why the long face?’ A horse has eyes up here and a mouth down here and the minute we made it talk it was pushing it too far and it was not believable. We didn’t want wall-to-wall dialogue or wall-to-wall narration. We wanted something that was told visually and the only time we have dialogue is to enhance the story in some way.”

“Basically, what we were trying to create was a musical, with the songs expressing the emotions of a horse. But the story was completed before the music, so the songs had to be very specific, which was exceptionally challenging for me as a songwriter. As a singer, my role was being a storyteller, trying to bring Spirit’s emotions to life through my voice.”

“We melded 2D and CG together so that we could pull off some cool effects in Spirit. To meld them together I had to draw like a computer, very, very accurately because the nature of computer animation is you’re moving a computer model in digital space. In essence, that is already a very accurate representation of something from every angle. So I had to do it by hand, draw something from every conceivable angle accurately so that I could (flawlessly) cut right next to a computer piece of animation. The movie is about 15% computer animated.”

“In regard to the 2D animation of the characters – to me it seemed like there was a true connection and warmth that I don’t know if the CG could capture. I would like to see the 2D medium remain, there’s just nothing that can compare to a hand drawn sequence.”

“If there was anything we tried to achieve with the CG/2D combi
nation, it was for the technology to be invisible and hard to spot.”

“I think some of the best animated movies ever made are the ones that were fables, meaning through the eyes of animals as opposed to allegories, through the eyes of people.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Visit the official Spirit – Stallion of
the Cimarron

Images above © Dreamworks
Feature © 2002 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #619, Summer 2002 cover

For reviews and features about all kinds of films, read Film Review regularly. Superpowered Special below published June 6th!

Film Review, Special - Superpowered 2002 cover

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