Composing the Empowering Theme of DreamWorks Animated Feature Spirit Untamed

The new animated feature “Spirit Untamed,” in theaters June 4, celebrates the power and importance of friendships, but at its heart is a theme of fearlessness.

Composer Amie Doherty worked alongside director Elaine Bogan to map out the music for the follow-up to the popular 2002 movie “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.” This time the focus is on a new character, 12-year old Lucky (voiced by Isabela Merced), a headstrong girl with a sense of adventure, who learns about her true self when she moves from the Eastern U.S. to the Wild West during the frontier era. Along the way, she forms an unlikely connection with Spirit, a wild mustang.

Doherty’s first task was to open the movie with a lullaby to be used when Lucky’s mother Milagro (voiced by Eiza González) sings to her young daughter. That song, “Fearless,” ended up being used three times — the second with Lucky singing it to herself for motivation, and Jake Gyllenhaal’s character Jim, Lucky’s father, singing it at the end.

While “Fearless” is about empowering a young girl to be courageous and go on an adventure, Doherty avoided phrasing that was female-centric. “It could be sung to any child. I stayed away from using words such as beauty and girl things,” she says, in hopes the song would have universal appeal.

Doherty penned the piece in about an hour, with words that reinforced the importance of embracing one’s roots. “I wrote this melody and added placeholder lyrics, and everyone had discussed they would bring on a lyricist. But in the end, they used the song with those lyrics,” she explains.

Doherty, the first female composer to work on a DreamWorks animated feature, brought in Spanish guitars as she tied Milagro’s Mexican culture into the film’s Western Americana setting. “I wanted to get the frontier sound in there too,” she says.

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