“Discipline, time and patience are the three great levellers.”
Spirit is a film that Teenaged Sister used to watch endlessly (before she was teenaged, obviously). The reason for this is quite simple: It is about a horse.
More specifically, it’s a cartoon about a wild mustang called Spirit on the plains of the Wild West trying to defy human invaders, etc.
Anyway, I watched it again recently (because the Book Depository does not have a working television) and realised that, basically, Spirit is annoying. It’s annoying because whoever directed clearly knows not the first thing about horses. Horses do not run in vast herds in the wild. Nor do they jump over random logs for the sheer hell of it, or fight off wildcats, or leap over the Grand Canyon because they are being chased. At one point Spirit is tied up by the Evil Military Englishman and spends a considerable amount of energy trying to burst the rope, and, here’s the thing, he never manages to do it. Now anyone, anyone, who has ever spent any time around horses knows that if a horse wants to escape enough, it is perfectly capable of bursting a rope to do so.
Of course, I could say exactly the same things about Ice Age, or Finding Nemo, or any of the other charming animated animal films that exist in L-space. But what really annoys me about Spirit, what differentiates it from everything else, is that the horses don’t actually talk. They are humanised in every aspect except that, and, for me, that gives it a kind of spurious credibility. Because the horses don’t talk (well, apart from Spirit’s inner monologue, provided by Matt Damon), Spirit could – just – be taken as a true story, or at least representative of things an actual horse would do. And it just isn’t. It’s all wrong. (Whereas, you see, Ice Age is clearly fantasy.)
However, the songs in Spirit, written by Bryan Adams to music by Hans Zimmer, are rather lovely. They are easily the best thing about the film: they’re catchy, and spirited, and well-matched to the action. If Spirit had been a film about a person, or even a film with talking horses, it would have been charming. As it is, it’s just annoying.