Buck-sp– We came to this documentary film  knowing that we might not be the ideal audience for it since we are not big animal lovers or horse fans. Certainly the opening countryside scenery was beautiful and seeing the horses running free in the lush meadow was very attractive. Buck Brannaman, the main subject of this film is very appealing and has a commanding presence not only on the screen but in person as a guest at our screening. His sensitivity and ability to connect to horses is remarkable and has been a game changer in the approach to training them. He actually was the person about whom  Robert Redford fashioned his acclaimed movie, The Horse Whisperer . Reford appeared in this documentary and told how Brannaman is the real deal and ended up being more than the inspiration of  the script of his  movie but became a key advisor and actually was a his double in several scenes in which he did his magic with horses. The story hook of this documentary which caught our  attention was how Buck the man had started off as Buck the young kid performing in rodeos with his brother Smokey from a very young age with rope tricks and horse riding. Behind the scenes and at home their father beat them unmercifully. Ultimately Buck was placed in a foster home when outsiders discovered the whip marks on his body. Flash forward now to Buck working with a vicious angry young colt that can’t be controlled. Buck comes to understand the history of this damaged at birth horse which was treated badly by his owners and thus rather than attempting to dominate it, he tried to empathically understand it seemingly based on his own experiences. Obviously he can’t do this by psychotherapy and while we get some idea of his ability to communicate with the horse, it is something we, the audience have very little understanding of how he does it. He apparently has been very innovative with his concept of “starting” a young wild horse rather than the tradition of “ breaking” it. We wish that there had been more narration and explanation during  the somewhat repetitive scenes of working with the horses and training them. We saw many scenes with Buck holding flags in his hands and lightly touching the horses with them but we have no idea what that was all about. We also learn that Buck spends 9 months of the year driving around the country holding “clinics” and training people with his techniques while his wife during this time is raising their three kids- one of whom we meet as she is teenage horse women in the image of Buck. It would have interesting to learn more about all his kids and his wife who we briefly meet. In the Q&A period after the film in response to my questions Buck told us that Smokey his brother ended up spending 25 years in the Coast Guard certainly away from horses. The creative force behind the film and director of the documentary is  Cindy Meehl who is a horse owner and became inspired when she met Buck at one of his training sessions. She put together the private funding for her first film of any kind  as well as an experienced team that helped her make it.  The movie made it into the  Sundance Film Festival  and has been invited to film festivals throughout the US and the world. It certainly has made it out of the starting gate. (2011)

Category: 3 Stars, Documentary | Tags: , , , , , , , , One comment »

One Response to “Buck”

  1. Helen Graham

    This film should be compulsory viewing for teenagers.
    It shows how you can rise above adversity and actually gets right in your face about anger and emotional problems.
    I wish I was more articulate but I will be sending this film to my 18 year old
    cowboy grandson. I think it’s too important pass up.

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