Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron ★★★★
There are times in cinema history where a film will provide a sense of enlightenment and elation, even almost unknowingly, in a package that would seem downright unfit. It is quite a romanticized notion to believe that a children's picture could ever sustain a message as powerful as the one found in "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron," yet it does, and in such a way that speaks directly to the human soul. What Dreamworks has created here is a film that will stand the test of time, simply because we need it to.
Spirit is a young stallion, born on the open grasslands of the West. It is a picturesque lifestyle, accommodated by pastoral images, teeming with wildlife. His appearance, seemingly modeled after the skin tone and strong facial features of a Native American, is that of a majestic creature, whose freedom is the very fabric of his nature. This delicate animal will become our guide, as we venture into a world unlike our own, and one that should never have been taken away from us.
One of the most underrated aspects of film-making, and one that would seem rather elementary on its surface, is the flexibility of the medium itself, which not only can shun the spoken word with unrelenting vigor, but it can convey words, emotions, and feelings, in the most subtle of fashions. It is worthy to note that not one single character in the film utters a word of dialogue, except, of course, for the human beings, who are utilized for more of a symbolic purpose; they are not here to ruin the structure with dull exchanges or overbearing monologues.
The main protagonists, consisting of Spirit and his love interest, Rain, provide an adequate dosage of tenderness through facial expressions alone, which is not only impressive, but unmistakably beautiful. There is a certain indefinable quality that makes these creatures so astounding, and it can only become more exquisite when woven into the tapestry of this fine art. Although limited in its technical abilities (which in this particular instance would be computer graphic imaging, as some scenes become choppy and unflattering), it is this aspect that succeeds invariably.
Naturally, it would be a futile attempt to express such a profound conviction, especially to children, without some sort of direction. A voice-over narration is used to spur the events of the plot, along with several songs composed by Brian Adams, a 1980s rock n' roll artist, whose presence helps to express the situation at hand, and ultimately, the inner emotions of Spirit, himself. I'm sure that these compositions will delight most children, even if it becomes an oppressive technique by the film's end.
"Spirit" is a picture that reaches out and touches upon a subject matter that would instill most men with a heart of melancholia, yet it never relents in its strive to give us what we need; a sense of satisfaction from a time that was filled with anger and hatred. Spirit not only symbolizes the West in general, but he represents freedom and the ability to overcome persecution. The picture is fueled by its cosmic irony treatment, in which Spirit is beaten down time after time, robbed of every opportunity of independence. We are always there to feel his pain and relish the moment in which that feeling of liberation is attained once more.