I love horses and nature and thought when I saw the DVD in the rental store, "Hmmm, this ought to be a good couple of hours." The first ten minutes were absolutely beautiful... wild horses gamboling in gorgeous animated scenery full of eagles, clouds, mountains, and prairie grasses.
Then the actual narrative started and the plot began to move into high strangeness. Not too surprisingly, horses are shown not with intelligent horse minds but human minds. "OK," I thought, "I guess I can handle that, it certainly is not the first film to give animals human minds, attitudes and viewpoints." I was disappointed, though, because Disney has made an industry out of same, and other non-Disney productions like Dreamworks could blaze a little new territory if they were willing (and obviously, they are not).
The strangeness kept coming. In one prolonged scene, Spirit enlists the aid of teams of horses used to lay the railway through the mountains to instead destroy it and the train manufacturing facility. The idea is to keep the trains from bringing more settlers west to ruin the land. What action could be more pointless and destructive? We all know that the railroad did come West, to the Pacific. Spirit's actions did nothing to help his land or his fellow horses. We see the liberated horses fleeing into the forest. What happened to them next? The film glosses over that. Horses living in a forest do not necessarily live happily ever after. For one thing, appropriate food is scarce.
I'm as ecologically conscious as the next person, probably more so, since it's my career. Couldn't Spirit have done something a tad more constructive to help preserve his native land and educate the humans, since he is so smart? What a missed opportunity.
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