“Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” is an entirely unique animated film from Dreamworks. It is like a cross between “Black Beauty” and “Bambi.” The story takes us through the displacement of the Native Americans during the westward expansion of the Transcontinental Railroad but they didn't try to compete with Disney by creating an inevitability inferior musical featuring anthropomorphic animals. Instead, they went for realism by limiting the dialogue to human characters and incorporating real horse sound effects. These horses display an incredible array of expression without dialogue and Matt Damon’s occasional narration of Spirit’s thoughts is just enough to make the plot clear. The score is vital to defining the characters’ emotions and it becomes a story told through the music of Hans Zimmer. They also tried to steal a page out of Disney's "Tarzan" by populating the film with pop songs by Bryan Adams overtop of the various montages (though only playing half of each song). It isn’t quite as successful as “Tarzan” and “Brother Bear,” but that is probably because they didn’t have Phil Collins. The main draw of this film is its visual beauty for which it received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature. Films like "Frozen" and "Zootopia" are visual masterpieces but there really is no comparison to the craft of traditional hand drawn animation. This film combines digital and traditional animation to get the best of both worlds, but the traditional is what stands out to us. “Spirit” doesn’t have the most complex or unpredictable story but it serves as a piece of visual artwork that can be enjoyed by all ages.
[Pictured; "Spirit" has a unique style that blends traditional animation with digital animation]