Music and The Fictive Dream~ The Long Road Back


I will be analyzing a piece of music from a film called “Spirit: Stallion of The Cimarron.”

This piece has no lyrics or words but it is a part of a film that has many songs with words. I chose to use a piece that did not have lyrics because this piece has always been special to me. This piece in particular tells the entire movie back to the listener without the use of words. (If you have seen the movie that is) But I know, after listening to this piece, there will be a story unfolding within yourself as it is a very strong piece of music.

The film was produced by DreamWorks animation and has always been a favorite movie of mine when growing up. I was a horse crazy girl growing up and this movie directly influenced that.

“The instrumental score was composed by Hans Zimmer with songs by Bryan Adams in both the English and French versions of the album.” (Wiki, 2020)

“The Long Road Back” is a piece composed by Hans Zimmer in 2002. Again, it is without lyrics but it tells a dramatic story in itself without the aid of words. I could not find what the origin of the song is though it carries Native American elements within its score. I couldn’t find out exactly where this piece was composed but I know that the DreamWorks studio is located in Glendale, California.

Give this piece a good listen and I bet that I can guess where you got chills at.

Wasn’t this an emotional piece? I think I can pinpoint the exact place in which chills washed over your body if they did. Minute 2:17 is where I am overtaken every time with chills.

This piece is chock full of extremely powerful instrumentation.

Musical Elements

The dynamics rise to a height that is incredibly dominant. You don’t really notice it unless you try but there is a powerful bass line in a section of this piece. I listen to this piece a lot in my car with the bass turned all the way up and when that climax point hits, my car shakes. I encourage you to try it sometime.

Along with strong dynamics and an excellent bass line, the timbre of this piece is very broad.

There are lots of instruments being used here and one in particular isn’t as common to a lot of film scores in my experience.

I could find very little on the piece, “The Long Road Back” so I had to use my own ears to decipher what instrument was being used. I am still unsure exactly but it is between these next few instruments.

This is an Indian Pan Flute

This next instrument is called a Drone Flute

After looking at those two instruments you can probably see why it is hard to decipher which instrument exactly was being used in the piece. The timbre of the instrument in the Hans Zimmer composition had a very woody sound to it so I know it is a whistle made of wood. And, since this movie is centered around the Native Americans, I can only guess that a Native American instrument was used.

If anyone can find anything more about this song I would be happy to hear about it in the comments! I have searched and searched to find which instruments were used and I could not find anything. But for now, I think my ears will do.

Social Commentary

Spirit is a unique and original look at western life from the point of view of a wild horse, and native Americans. The film focuses on the friendships and perils that a wild horse, Spirit, encounters during his life.”(IMBd, 2002)

This piece is really a recapture of the entirety of Spirit’s (the main character, a horse) life. From the beginning of the piece it goes from happy, to extreme excitement, to trouble, to sorrow. The ending of this film is very well done and leaves the viewer satisfied but there is a great amount of sadness. “The Long Road Back” captures the main points of this film to a “t”.

“‘The story I want to tell you cannot be found in a book. They say the history of the west was written from the saddle of a horse, but it’s never been told from the heart of one. Not ‘till now. I was born here, in this place that would come to be called The Old West. But to my kind, the land was ageless. It had no beginning and no end, no boundary between earth and sky. Like the wind and the buffalo grass, we belonged here. We would always belong here. They say the mustang is the spirit of the west. Whether that west was won or lost in the end, you’ll have to decide for yourself. But the story I want to tell you is true. I was there and I remember. I remember the sun and the sky, and the wind calling my name, and a time when wild horses ran free…’” (Carlos De Romana, YouTube, 2020)

Does Little Creek love Rain? Poll Results - Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron - Fanpop

There is a direct moral message from this film that I always understood, even as a young girl.

Freedom. The beauty of home. Being yourself. Friendship. Love. These elements are constantly protruding from the film’s story. Each piece of music within build upon each other but “The Long Road Back” focuses mainly on Spirit as he travels back home after being captured by the Yankees.

“The Long Road Back” is a piece that reflects Spirit mulling over his life from beginning to where he is now as he travels home. His love for his home, his love of freedom, the joy he finds in being himself, the love he has for Rain; the love interest, and the friendship he has with the Native American named Little Creek.

“Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is set in a small fictional frontier town of Oregon called Miradero in the late 19th American west. I live near Bend, Oregon and my grandchildren were so overcome with emotion in this movie they cried. To this day it is my granddaughters fav movie!”(Horsey Hooves, 2020)

At the end of the film, Little Creek lets Spirit free. He gives him his freedom and this is one of the climaxes of the piece and of the film. Freedom is strongly emphasized within this piece; Spirit longing to be home with his family, to be free and to be with his friends.

There’s a lot within just this one song that just speaks thousands of words. It tells a story that always carries a lot of emotion with it. Who knew music could have so much control over the way we feel?


The “Long Road Back” will forever be a favorite piece of mine. It always reminds me of the preciousness of life and friendship and the beauty and joy of home. While the overall film is exceptional, this track is my favorite part about it. I encourage you to listen to the track again, and then, go watch the film to get the full experience. You never know, you might just get chills a second and third time.


“Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002).” IMDb, 24 May 2002,

—. “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.” Wikipedia, 10 Nov. 2020,

Snillum M. “14 Hans Zimmer – Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron – The Long Road Back (Album).” YouTube, uploaded by Snillum M, 11 May 2015,

Marques, Andreia. “4 Things You Didn’t Know About Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron.” Horsey Hooves, 25 June 2020,

2 thoughts on “Music and The Fictive Dream~ The Long Road Back

  1. It is challenging to pull social commentary from a single piece of music that doesn’t have any words, and I think that you did an excellent job of explaining your point of view in relation to the larger piece of work. I have not seen this particular movie, but I did enjoy listening to The Long Road Back, particularly the dynamic aspects. I think that the concept of freedom is an interesting one when we discuss it in this context. Native Americans were enslaved by Europeans during periods of exploration and colonization of the western hemisphere and often forced to move from their territories, places that had been their homes for countless generations. I attempted to get an idea of the plot from a google search — and found it moving that one of the Native American characters granted the horse its freedom, perhaps having an intimate knowledge of what it means to have their own freedom jeopardized. The horse is not an animal native to this continent, and I think there is also a certain beauty in the relationship between indigenous peoples and this majestic animal that is also a type of immigrant to the land yet its presence seems so natural, it’s as if it had always called North America home. When brought to this land the horse was used as a tool of war to subjugate Native Americans and it ended up effectively backfiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely love this movie, I probably watched it at least a 1000 times growing up. I am a horse girl as well, growing up my entire room was painted with horses and one wall had a whole barn painted on it. It has been so interesting going back and seeing these movies because you don’t realize the history and other messages imbedded in them that we as kids didn’t realize. I really like that you picked a piece without lyrics, it made your post unique. The song you chose is extremely powerful, and can get its message across without the use of lyrics. I’m sure we can all relate to Spirit especially right now, we all want to be free with our family and friends again.

    Liked by 1 person

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