Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Intense animated mustang tale has lots of peril, violence.
  • G
  • 2002
  • 83 minutes

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 35 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 50 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Positive portrayal of Native Americans. 

Positive Role Models

No positive role models. The antagonists are a regiment of U.S. Cavalry, who are shown fighting and imprisoning Native Americans, kidnapping horses, and voicing opinions that the West is theirs to conquer. 

Violence & Scariness

Horses in frequent peril. Lead horse taken from his family by U.S. Cavalry. Lead horse shown trying to be trained and broken by a cavalryman. After his attempts fail, cavalryman orders the horse to be tied up, denied food and water for three days. Horses trapped in raging rapids, shown to be almost dead from near-drowning. Lead horse escapes from being part of a team dragging a locomotive up a hill, causes the locomotive to fall and roll down the hill, endangering men and horses, destroying buildings, explosions. Rifle shots. Horse kicks and throws off the men who try to tame him. 

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cavalryman shown asleep at a campsite next to an almost-empty bottle of booze. Cigar smoking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is a 2002 movie about a wild mustang stallion that cannot be tamed in the "Wild West." The scenes of Spirit being taken away from his family, and subsequent scenes of Spirit's cruel treatment while men try to "break" him, may be too intense at times for younger or more sensitive viewers. The soldiers use guns and treat Spirit harshly, applying whips and spurs. The blacksmith makes an unsuccessful attempt to brand him. While trying to break Spirit, after all else fails, Spirit is left tied to a post for three days in the hot sun with no food and water. Frequent peril includes a near-drowning scene in which horses are trapped in raging rapids. Characters are in peril and it appears that one has been killed. There's a fire and a chase scene. The Native American boy is portrayed as brave, compassionate, and honorable. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byAnna C. September 22, 2016

Best kids movie ever

Best kids movie ever. Not based in la-la land or fantasy. It is a historically-based story of the settling of the West through the eyes of a horse. Bryan Adams... Continue reading
Adult Written bySTRIDER9 April 7, 2013

Give this one a chance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is one of my favorite movies. It has great songs and Spirit is a great role modle for beliving in yourself and willing to take a stand for freedom. Yes som... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byDogb November 13, 2020

Common Sense Media didn't have any common sense when rating this movie!

I was disappointed to see such a low rating on one of my favorite movies. This movie overall seems to be pretty underrated when it comes to critics, so I am jus... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byMaggie G October 29, 2019

CSM did not give this movie justice!!

This movie is simply breathtaking. The animation is beautiful, and the story line is very entertaining. The music is sung by Brian Adams, who has a great, uniq... Continue reading

What's the story?

In the animated SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON, Spirit is born to a loving mare and grows up in a paradise of mountains and plains, with plenty to eat and drink and freedom to run as far as he can dream. He becomes the leader of the pack of horses, and watches out for his group to keep them safe from predators. His curiosity leads him to investigate a campsite, and he's captured by cavalry soldiers. A brutal commander tries to break him, but even starvation doesn't make him submit. Spirit escapes with an Indian boy named Little Creek, and they grow to care for each other. Spirit also cares for Little Creek's pretty palomino, Rain. But Spirit still will not let anyone ride him. Little Creek sends Spirit back to his home, but he's captured again and has many more adventures before returning to his family.

Is it any good?

Many kids will enjoy this traditionally animated story about a brave wild mustang in the 19th-century American West, but parents may find it overlong even at a running time of less than 90 minutes. Parents should also know that there are some scary scenes and that the story may be hard for younger children to follow because the horse characters don't talk.

There are some lovely and powerful images of horses racing through endless stretches of grass, mountains, and rivers. The scary scenes are very vivid, especially the fire and a railroad engine knocked off its tracks that comes tumbling downhill. But the story moves slowly, especially during the dreary Bryan Adams songs. The narration (by Matt Damon) is more poetic than descriptive, so younger kids will benefit from some discussion about the story.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the different ways that the Colonel and Little Creek have of trying to teach Spirit to carry a rider. Do different parents have different ways of teaching children? What ways work best? 

  • How are Native Americans and the U.S. Cavalry portrayed in this movie? How is this in contrast to the way Native Americans and the U.S. Cavalry have historically been portrayed in Western movies? 

  • Was the violence necessary for telling the story, or was it too much? Why?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horses

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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