Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

A paean to the unspoiled American west, this stunning 2002 animated feature by Dreamworks producer Jeffrey Katzenberg (Shrek) follows the trials of a wild mustang while showcasing a novel marriage of hand-drawn and computer-generated images. The script advances the story only through spare voice-over narration (by Matt Damon), and the horses communicate only through their snorting, whinnying, and facial expressions, but the animators have re-created equine movement and behavior with uncanny verisimilitude. Directors Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook are probably responsible for the peculiarly feminine love triangle involving the title stallion, a mare, and her Lakota keeper, and ultimately the film plays as an antiwestern, with horses and Indians allied against the villainy of cavalry, cowboys, and railroad builders. G, 82 min.

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