troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Kickstarter Message
TV Tropes Needs Your Help
X
Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
View Kickstarter Project
Western Animation: Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

"They say the history of the West was written from the saddle of a horse, but it's never been told from the heart of one... not 'till now."

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is a film by Dreamworks Animation; one of their last traditionally animated features before they made the switch to CGI.

The film is about a feral horse who is born on the American prairie and has encounters — both positive and negative — with the humans who also live there. Spirit is captured and taken away from his herd by American soldiers, resisting their attempts to tame him. At the camp he befriends an Indian named Little Creek, though their relationship is far from affectionate. Together they escape from the soldiers' camp, but the spread of the white man continues to plague them throughout the story.

Besides the main story of a horse returning to his herd, the film is really about the domestication of the American wilderness. The Colonel, the main antagonist of the film, represents Western civilization invading the North American landscape and changing the land to suit its needs. Although Spirit ostensibly gets a happy ending, history really makes it a foregone conclusion...

Compare Disney's Dinosaur, which has had many of the same criticisms leveled against it and was originally going to have the same format — a narrator, and lots of music, but no talking animals.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Kiss: An interspecies example occurs early in the movie when a drunken wrangler is being mouth-examined by Spirit in his sleep and he apparently mistakes him for a girl.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Esperanza has a tendency to fiddle with her son's forelock. In a rather heartwarming callback, she playfully musses it when he's born and straightens it when he returns home.
  • All There in the Script: Spirit's mother's name is Esperanza.
  • All There in the Manual: There was a book called Esperanza that was a prequel based around Spirit's parents. Spirit's dad is a black stallion named Strider
  • Alternate Animal Affection: The horses mostly nuzzle each other and cross necks to show affection. Little Creek gets a "hug" off Spirit in this fashion near the end.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Well, naturally. The directors even lampshade this in the commentary for the train sequence. In terms of amplified animal athleticism, Spirit leaps about fifty feet across a canyon, and without his front legs snapping like twigs upon landing, though he did wind up crashing.
  • Amusing Injuries: Poor Murphy. Even the horses were laughing at him.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: Averted. The male horses do have genitalia, it's just drawn very subtly.
  • Anti-Villain: The Colonel is stern and somewhat obsessive, but not really evil. He even has the sense of honor and respect to let Spirit and Little Creek go once they've beaten him.
  • Artistic License Biology: Both Spirit and Rain are seen rearing while doing a 360 degree turn at different points. Horses can't do that.
    • The animators explained giving the horses eyebrows to better have them express emotion.
    • During his segment as a colt, Spirit at one point drinks water like a dog. This might have been added for cuteness effect.
  • Award Bait Song: The movie arguably has several of these, but there are two that fit best - "Here I Am", which is both the opening song as well as playing over the credits, and "I Will Always Return", which plays as the finale of the movie. And to top it off, BOTH are sung by Bryan Adams.
  • Big, Badass Bird of Prey: The eagle.
  • Bloodless Carnage: There's no blood visible when Rain is shot, though they do show a subtle bullet wound.
  • A Boy and His X: Subverted that it's not Little Creek and Spirit - but Rain.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Spirit refers to humans as "two-leggeds".
  • Cartoony Eyebrows: Although the horses are otherwise anatomically sound. But the man-eyebrows get distracting after a while in the same manner as Aladar's beak-lips. And generally speaking, to have that visibly white scleras, the horses would all have to carry certain spotting genetics which they don't show any sign of.
  • Clean Pretty Childbirth: We see Esperanza having contractions, followed by baby Spirit coming into view clean and neat.
  • Colonel Badass: The nameless Colonel is a variation; the film's focus on horses denies him any opportunity to show this trope in a more conventional fight, but he is a formidable enemy.
  • Conspicuous CGI: Shows up quite a bit, actually — the film was intended to be an about even blend of CGI and traditional animation. Sometimes it meshes well (Just try to spot, in the scene where Spirit's on a hill overlooking the herd, the moments in which he changes from a CGI render to a drawing and back to a CGI render) and sometimes it... doesn't. The locomotive in particular is pretty glaring. Even the early shot of the running herd is noticeable if you have a sharp eye and can tell hand-painted Cel Shading from the computer-automated kind.
  • Cool Horse: Well, duh.
  • Curse Cut Short: When Spirit accidentally wakes two men, there are two right after another.
    "What the-!" / "Son-of-a-!"
  • Cut Song: At least two: "Brothers Under the Sun" and "The Long Road Home". The music for both appears in the film proper, and they're on the soundtrack (and "Brothers Under the Sun" also plays at the very end of the end credits).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Spirit
  • Determinator: "Spirit Who Could Not Be Broken", indeed.
  • Disappeared Dad: Spirit's father was never seen.
  • Disney Death: The horse Rain. The character was originally going to die for good, but the creators decided to go for the happy ending.
  • Disneyesque
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Rain does a VERY good job of this for Spirit. She literally sweeps him off his feet!
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: All the horses the Cavarly owns are dark brown. They hate their riders, long to be free and will run away from them at any chance given.
  • A Dog Named Dog: The main character is usually called "Mustang" until he gets properly named at the end.
  • Double Entendre: In the Norwegian dub, Spirit doesn't monologue "Mares..." in plural when Rain "scolds" him, but "Mare..!" instead. This is due to the Norwegian word for "mare" also being a rude name for women. The Norwegian Spirit basically calls her "bitch".
  • Double Meaning: The song "Get Off My Back" is meant both figuratively and literally in Spirit's case.
  • Dramatic Wind
  • Eagle Tracking Shot
  • Evil Overlooker: It's pretty bizarre to see the Colonel's face being used like this on some DVD covers, especially since he looks so damn benevolent.
  • Held Gaze: Spirit and Rain have a deep gaze into each other's eyes under a tree. Spirit also does this with Little Creek about three times.
  • Heroic BSOD: Spirit, after Rain's supposed demise and his third capture. It takes him hallucinating about his herd and reminding him of what he is fighting for to knock him out of it.
  • A Hero Is Born: The first scene after the opening narration is Spirit's mother in the final stages of labour.
  • Historical-Domain Character: The Colonel is (an unnamed) George Armstrong Custer.
  • Horse Jump
  • Inevitable Waterfall
  • Interspecies Friendship: The title character appears to be friends with an unnamed bald eagle and he later befriends a human.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: When the Colonel rides Spirit in his attempt to break him, he proves too difficult to buck off and hangs on until Spirit gives up. As the Colonel then gives a gloating speech about how any horse can be broken, Spirits thinks "sometimes a horse has got to do what a horse has got to do", then immediately shocks the Colonel with a surprise buck, throwing him off.
  • Just Train Wrong: The Northern Pacific Railroad never built track in Nebraska, or connected with Utah; that was the Union Pacific.
    • That's because Spirit destroyed it, duh...
  • Keet: The young Spirit.
  • Know When To Fold Them: Just after Spirit and Little Creek jump over the gorge, one of the Union soldiers aims to shoot them. But the Colonel makes him put down his gun, and wordlessly lets the horse and Indian go.
  • Meaningful Name: Murphy. If it can go wrong while he works with the horses...
  • Misplaced Wildlife: We can only assume that the Bald Eagle living in the middle of a dry upland prairie is only there due to DreamWorks' patriotic fervor.
  • Moody Mount: Spirit, justified as he was taken from the wild and treated harshly.
  • Musicalis Interruptus
    • In "You Can't Take Me". It gets to finish near the end of the movie.
    • Later, around the film's midpoint, Spirit thinks he can finally go back to his homeland, with a proud section of "Run Free" blaring — when the mare he's tied to stops as abruptly as the music at the edge of the Lakota village.
  • Nameless Narrative: The main character isn't actually named until the end of the film.
  • Oh, Crap: When Spirit tosses the cougar to the ground and rears over it, the look of terror on its face is palpable.
  • One-Dimensional Thinking: Averted. Spirit has to escape a train falling down a hill behind him, and it's impossible for him to run to either side as they're covered with large piles of timber the entire way down.
  • The Oner: The oh-so-pretty opening tracking shot. It was one of the first sequences started during production and one of the last to be finished.
  • Pet the Dog: When the Colonel has witnessed Spirit's jump for freedom, he stops one of his soldiers from shooting him and signalizes to Spirit that he's free to go.
  • Pounds Are Animal Prisons: Played with —- as far as the wild horse is concerned, yes, stables are pony prison, but the horses at the regiment are seen to be treated more or less reasonably; Spirit is only maltreated insofar as he misbehaves. And the animals ridden by the natives are treated quite well, as are the horses used by the railroad; the man leading Spirit into and off the train is shown as reassuring and gentle with him.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Bryan Adams wrote the songs.
  • Rewritten Pop Version: In the film proper, "I Will Always Return" is about family and homeland, and its refrain at the end powers the triumphant conclusion. The credits version? A love song.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Spirit as a young colt.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Rain. She loves Little Creek, she loves Spirit, Spirit loves her (despite the fact that she won't initially allow him to leave captivity), and that's about the extent of her character.
  • Scenery Porn
  • Shoo the Dog
  • Shown Their Work: Like the animators themselves point out; horses are one of the most difficult things you can draw, and not only did they have to draw horses all day long for a few years, they had to animate them as well. The result is nothing short of stunning.
  • Silence Is Golden: There are no talking animals in this film aside from a few narration parts from Matt Damon's character. The film had to have the animators pantomime conversations with the horses with their body language and the expression on their faces. The horses just neigh throughout the film. There also are not that many conversation scenes with the human characters.
  • Stock Footage: The final scene with Spirit and Rain galloping uphill and then watching the herd below together is actually the same scene from the beginning when Spirit does all of it alone, only with Rain pasted in.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Spirit picks up a touch of it where Rain and Little Creek are concerned, though not enough to stop him from taking off when Little Creek first sets him free.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Fortunately, this mostly happens in the lyrics to the songs and the narration... but there are a lot of songs and a lot of narration...
  • Title Drop: In a sense. "Take care of her... Spirit Who Could Not Be Broken."
  • Tongue on the Flagpole: As a colt, Spirit gets his tongue stuck to a large icicle. He then snaps it off and carries it away with him.
  • Tsundere
    • Rain, Spirit's Love Interest. Summed up hilariously by Spirit to anyone who knows anything about horses: "Mares."
    • Spirit too, to a degree.
  • True Companions: Implied by the herd.
  • Unreliable Narrator: This story is truly told through the perspective of a wild horse, and it shows in how he views humans.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Little Creek.
  • Worthy Opponent: How the Colonel views Spirit by the end of the film, as evidenced by his respectful nod to him.
  • Xenofiction

Sons of AnarchyCreator/Modern Video FilmSpy Hard
SilveradoIndex of Film WesternsStagecoach
Lilo & StitchUsefulNotes/Academy Award for Best Animated FeatureTreasure Planet
Spider-WomanAnimal Title IndexSpongeBob SquarePants
ShrekThe Millennium Age of AnimationSinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas
Monsters, Inc.UsefulNotes/Annie AwardFinding Nemo
SpiderFilms of 2000 - 2004 Stealing Harvard
ShrekCreator/Dream Works AnimationSinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas
SpikeAnimated FilmsThe SpongeBob SquarePants Movie

alternative title(s): Spirit Stallion Of The Cimarron
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
30491
37