Spirit: Film Locations
Posted in: Entertainment on January 30, 2023.
Set in the West
There are lots of films and television series that are filmed in the American West in general, and Southern Utah in particular. We’ve compiled this list here if you want to read about some of the most well-known examples. And there is this list from IMDb that is even more comprehensive. (Southern Utah has even been the setting for a few video games – see our blog post on the real-life locations in Horizon: Zero Dawn.)
But we’ve never written about an animated film before. And it just so happens that the 2002 DreamWorks Animation horse movie Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron casts Southern Utah, and the American West, as an integral part of the film’s story. So let’s look at the real locations the filmmakers used to tell their story.
The Opening Flyover Scene
We’ve got three locations just in the opening moments of the film!
- The Grand Canyon in Arizona
- Monument Valley on the Utah/Arizona border
- Rainbow Bridge in Southern Utah
Spirit’s home is located in the Grand Tetons in Montana. This where we see him grow up, and where he returns after his adventures.
The army fort is a little bit tricky to place. But based on some of the monoliths in the background, we think we’re back in Monument Valley. What do you think?
Native American Camp
This one is easy! It’s located in (what is now) Yosemite National Park in California! Yosemite became a national park in 1890, so only a few years after this movie’s story takes place.
The railroad was a big deal in the 1860s, when this movie is set. The Central Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad met to form the transcontinental railway in Northern Utah on May 10, 1869. Today there is a monument to honor that historic achievement at Golden Spike National Historical Park.
Chase Scene in Bryce Canyon
The climactic chase sequence toward the end of the film take place in Bryce Canyon National Park in Southern Utah. (But there isn’t actually a large canyon in the park to cinematically leap over, unfortunately.)
It’s probably worth noting, in case you aren’t familiar with the general geography of the American West, that these locations are not close to each other. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron prioritizes the setting and feeling of each location to help convey the emotions of the characters – not the logical, real world distances between the set pieces. And that’s okay. It helps paint a picture of all the stunning places that you can find out here in the West.