Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
- compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2002 1 Jan
Steven D. Greydanus calls the movie "a wonder to behold. I'm particularly impressed by the animation of the horses, which are (as I can personally vouch with my background in illustration) notoriously difficult to draw. The film is also effective in the way it allows the horses to express themselves nonverbally, without turning them into talking cartoon characters. Like
"The animation has a lovely painterly quality," says a critic for the USCCB "[It's] an engaging tale that's cinematically beautiful to behold. Most big animated films lately have been very sassy, stressing smart-alecky comebacks and wise-cracking talking animals. Not so this gentle yet sometimes cruel film which celebrates the beauty of nature, respect for life, homeland and family."
Holly McClure raves, "Not only is it a visually satisfying movie, but there's a strong message about never letting anyone break your spirit, and about valuing your family and the freedom we have. This is what family entertainment should be." Theresa Zumwalt (Preview) agrees, calling it "a highly entertaining story set in a historical context, that could spark some excellent dialogue between parents and children." And Michael Elliott says, "
But some Christian media critics would not agree that the film is "completely free of any offensive content." Lindy Beam (Focus on the Family) calls the animation spectacular, but adds, "A line from the tale's opening segment provides a telling insight into
Phil Boatwright agrees that the film is guilty of "reverse bigotry." But he confesses that he is "hooked on horse movies," and says
Most mainstream critics are dazzled by the animation, but argue over other aspects. Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) says, "Uncluttered by comic supporting characters and cute sidekicks,
MaryAnn Johanson (Flick Filosopher) argues that the movie "is so close to being a great film that it can't help but leave you with the bitter aftertaste of what might have been." She praises its animation and storytelling, but adds, "Matt Damon's flat narration … does nothing but needlessly reiterate thoughts and feelings that are already clearly understood, and Bryan Adams' songs are worse, hammering us so that the story's genuine passion gets crushed into phony sentimentality. An unaffected score—one that actually featured some Western twang or Native American rhythms—was all that was needed."from Film Forum, 06/06/02
At Ethics Daily, two pastors offer differing perspectives on DreamWorks' animated family film,
Roger Thomas, pastor of Northeast Baptist Church in Atlanta writes, "As a history lesson for children, it is probably as good as it could be, but one has to wonder if children are even involved enough in the story to understand the history being presented. The history is also 'politically correct,' with all the American Indians being virtuous, and all the settlers being villainous. Children and parents alike expect certain things from animated films, and