The background score was composed by Hans Zimmer, with songs from Bryan Adams. The opening theme song for the movie is "Here I Am" written by Bryan Adams, Gretchen Peters, and Hans Zimmer. It was produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Another song, which was not included in the film itself (although it can be heard in the ending credits), is "Don't Let Go", which was sung by Bryan Adams with Sarah McLachlan on harmonies and piano. It was written by Bryan Adams, Gavin Greenaway, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, and Gretchen Peters. Many of the songs and arrangements are set in the American West, with themes based on love, landscapes, brotherhood, struggles, and journeys. Garth Brooks was originally supposed to write and record songs for the film but the deal fell through.
Many of the scenes used for the song of "I Will Always Return" were taken from the earlier parts of the movie to "This Is Where I Belong". A good example is when Spirit and Rain are standing on the hill. That was taken directly from the earlier part of the movie, only there were some slight modifications.
The original soundtrack contains 15 songs, and the special edition has one extra.
The movie opens with a continuous shot of a bald eagle soaring through the mustang's homeland until it flies over the mustang's herd. The scene following, which is the buckskin Kiger Mustang's birth to his mother Esperanza, is the opening to the actual story. Spirit's father Strider was never shown but was mentioned briefly. There is a selection of scenes from the colt's formative years as he grows into a stallion, taking control of a herd of horses living in the Cimarron Territory like his father, and learns that 'with great honour, comes great responsibility'. Part of his role as herd leader is shown when he fights a cougar that attacks two of the herd's foals. Spirit is shown to have an extremely large herd. Both times when he was standing over his herd on his hill, Spirit was shown to have some horses running down the left side of him, but yet, when Spirit is re-united with his herd, those horses are not shown. It is possible, that when Spirit's father died,he was given control of both herds and combined them together.
After becoming too curious for his own good and investigating a human camp, he is captured with ropes after a long chase and is sold to the United States Army, who at the time of the movie are fighting the Indian Wars. There he encounters a Colonel (based on Colonel Custer; in the film he is known simply as "The Colonel"), who sees the stallion as a symbol of the West he is setting out to conquer, so he tries to conquer the mustang too.
After leaving the army's farrier unconscious, the Colonel decides it is time to break the mustang, and men in the Army volunteer to ride him. The mustang bucks, rears and throws them all off. The Colonel orders for the horse to be tied to 'the post' for three days, no food or water. During this time, a Lakota American Indian named Little Creek is brought into the fort and tied to the [human] post. In the night, one of Little Creek's friends throws him a knife, which he quickly hides as the bugle sounds. This marks the end of the three days, and the Colonel rides the mustang.
After attempting all of the tactics that defeated his former opponents and failing to buck the colonel off his back, the stallion is exhausted, and the Colonel believes he has broken the wild horse. Three horses are tied to a post outside the corral and look down in shame when the mustang does not buck the Colonel off his back. While the colonel delivers a stirring speech to his men, the mustang attempts to throw him once more, by snatching the reins, breaking the saddle's girth, and sending the Colonel flying, breaking the corral fence in the process. The infuriated colonel attempts to shoot him, and Little Creek uses the distraction to escape with the mustang, and releases all the other horses. The horse is relieved for a minute, but is distracted by a paint horse, and captured by Little Creek's friends.
After failing to tame the mustang, Little Creek ties him and the paint horse, his own mare named Rain, together. Rain shows the mustang her world of the Lakota village, and in time the mustang grows to like the Lakota and feel a growing affection for Rain. His affections for Rain, however, do not soften his want to be free.
During an attack on the Lakota village by the Army regiment led by the Colonel, Rain is shot by the Colonel and the mustang is determined to save her. Rain falls into a river, and the mustang leaps in after her in a rescue attempt. After falling off a waterfall and lying on the bank with a badly hurt and severely exhausted Rain all night, the mustang is once again captured by the Army. Little Creek is determined to free the mustang once and for all, and follows the men who captured the stallion.
The mustang is used as a workhorse for the Transcontinental Railroad. As he and many other horses are dragging the locomotive up a mountain, the mustang realizes that if the track extends along its present course, it will infringe on his homeland. He plays dead and manages to set the other workhorses free and escapes with just a chain on his neck streaming behind him as he runs away from the engine. Without the other horses' support, the engine slips, rolls over, and slides rapidly down the mountain after the mustang. He barely gets away when the engine hits stored gunpowder and causes an explosion, sending sparks everywhere. A forest fire results, and he leaps over a log; the chain catches on the log, but Little Creek catches up to the mustang at this point and frees him. They leap into a river to escape the fire.
When the mustang wakes in the morning, he spends short time playing in a lake and on the grass with Little Creek before the Colonel and his men find them. In desperation, Little Creek sends the mustang running. Realizing Little Creek is in danger, the mustang runs back and pushes Little Creek on his back.
During the climatic chase scene between and on canyon walls, the two get trapped on a plateau. As the Colonel and his army get closer, there is no way to go except to jump over a large gorge. In a spectacular leap of faith, the mustang and Little Creek jump across to the other side. The soldiers do not attempt to follow. The Colonel stops one of his men from shooting the two, and exchanges nods of respect with the mustang before they part.
The mustang races back to the rebuilt Lakota village with Little Creek still on his back, where he finds Rain still alive. The horses share a happy moment, and Little Creek finally gives the Mustang a name: Spirit-Who-Could-Not-Be-Broken. Little Creek sets Spirit and Rain free, and they race back to Spirit's herd, racing the Eagle along the way to the song "I Will Always Return".
|Directed by|| Kelly Asbury|
|Produced by|| Jeffrey Katzenberg|
|Written by||John Fusco|
|Songs by||Bryan Adams|
|Original Score by||Hans Zimmer|
|Co-Executive Producer||Max Howard|
|Production Designer||Kathy Altieri|
|Art Directors|| Luc Desmarchelier|
|Film Editor||Nick Fletcher|
|Animation Superivsor||Kristof Serrand|
|Artistic Supervisors|| Ronnie Del Carmen (Story supervisor)|
Lorenzo Martinez & Clive Hutchings (Layout supervisors)
Kevin Turcotte (Background supervisors)
Doug Cooper (Digital supervisor)
Wendy Rogers (3D Effects supervisor)
Scott Santoro (2D Effects supervisor)
Jane Gotts (2D Digital Effects supervisor)
|Character Designers|| Carlos Grangel (Supervisor)|
Pres Antonio Romanillos
|Senior Supervising Animator||James Baxter (Spirit)|
|Supervising Animators|| Steve Horrocks & Jakob Hjort Jensen & Dan Wagner (Spirit)|
Bruce Ferriz (Spirit as Colt)
Pres Antonio Romanillos (Little Creek)
William Salazar (Rain)
Fabio Lignini (The Colonel)
Sylvian DeBoissy (Spirit's Mother)
Lionel Gallat (Wranglers)
Erik Schmidt & Alex Williams (Cavalry)
Philippe Le Brun & Mary Ann Malcomb (Indians & Indian Ponies)
Simon Otto (Eagle)
Patrick Mate (Animals & Murphy)
|Production Manager|| Teresa Cheng|
|Nominated||Animated Theatrical Feature|
|Won||Individual Achievement in Storyboarding||Ronnie Del Carmen (Story Supervisor)|
|Nominated||Individual Achievement in Storyboarding||Larry Leker (Story Artist)|
|Nominated||Individual Achievement in Storyboarding||Simon Wells (Story Artist)|
|Won||Individual Achievement in Production Design||Luc Desmarchelier (Art Director)|
|Won||Individual Achievement in Character Design||Carlos Grangel (Character Design Supervisor)|
|Won||Individual Achievement in Effects Animation||Yancy Landquist (3D Effects Animator)|
|Nominated||Individual Achievement in Effects Animation||Jamie Lloyd (3D Effects Animator)|
Rain received an honorary registration certificate from the American Paint Horse Association (APHA), which has registered more than 670,000 American Paint Horses to date. She is the first animated horse to be registered by this organization.
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