I remember the first time I saw a preview for Spirit. I was eight or nine and I was in the movie theatre. At first I was confused, but when the group of wild horses appeared on the screen, I squealed. I was VERY disappointed that I had to wait several months before it was released.
I’m a horse person. In school, there’s always THAT girl who’s obsessed with horses. Usually, in my grade, it was me (though I was delighted when I found another horse girl in my class, it was like finding someone who spoke your language!)
This film was everything my little horsey heart desired. It had racing and galloping and love and drama and jumping and fire and sad things… I cried when Spirit was caught. I cheered when he ran free. And then I cried again when Rain was shot.
Now that I’m older, viewing the film from a studious standpoint, I love it even more.
Animating a film where most of the main characters are horses must have been a daunting task. How did they make us care so much about Spirit? Horses rarely get a leading role in films. They’re usually supporting characters (usually to princesses or heroes). So what about Spirit is so appealing?
I think part of the appeal rose from the artistic influences of the film. By that, I mean the kinds of illustrations that must have inspired the film. For example, old western paintings like the ones below:
I don’t know whether these paintings actually inspired the artists of the film, but I love how everything seems to hold this same western feel. Lots of dusty yellow. The environment design especially captures the heart of what the old west is. Perhaps the old western paintings and Spirit feel similar because they were inspired by the same places?
The establishing shot is absolutely amazing. We see deer, bears, buffalo, and the symbol of freedom (at least here in the U.S.), the bald eagle, in addition to Mesa flats, rivers, mountains, forests–an untamed land.
What a brilliant way to establish the concept and feeling of freedom without even introducing the main character.
I studied the establishing shots and sketched them out with sharpie.
This movie is a great example of pushing the limits and using feeling and expression to display the story. There is minimal narration. The artists were able to get the story across with the environment and acting of a horse. And they did it so well that when I showed this film to my two year old cousin, he watched the entire movie, completely enthralled.
I'll never forget how he sobbed when Spirit was caught in the beginning. The theme of freedom runs deep within us.
That's alot of screencaps. Sorry, I'd put the whole movie here if I could. As it is, the rest of the movie screencaps can be found here.
This movie is a masterpiece of a million works and I'm okay with being completely biased about that. What did you think of the film? Favorite parts? Least favorite parts? I'd love to know! Find me on Facebook or leave a comment below.
My next Cinema Studies will be another Dreamworks film.... involving someone who's bald with the complexion of a popular primary color. Can you guess which movie it might be? Stay tuned!