Autumn 2011 Documentary series
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 7:00pm
Directed by Cindy Meehl
Starring Buck Brannaman and Robert Redford
Rated NR ·
“Your horse is a mirror to your soul, and sometimes you may not like what you see. Sometimes, you will.” So says Buck Brannaman, a true American cowboy and sage on horseback who travels the country for nine grueling months a year helping horses with people problems.
Buck, a richly textured and visually stunning film, follows Brannaman from his abusive childhood to his phenomenally successful approach to horses. A real-life “horse whisperer”, he eschews the violence of his upbringing and teaches people to communicate with their horses through leadership and sensitivity, not punishment.
Buck possesses near magical abilities as he dramatically transforms horses – and people – with his understanding, compassion and respect. In this film, the animal-human relationship becomes a metaphor for facing the daily challenges of life. A truly American story about an unsung hero, Buck is about an ordinary man who has made an extraordinary life despite tremendous odds.
“If training horses were all there was to Mr. Brannaman’s story, the encounter would still be worthwhile. He’s the closest thing imaginable to that staple of modern myth, the horse whisperer. Robert Redford hired him as an advisor when The Horse Whisperer was going into production and, as the movie’s director and star recalls in Ms. Meehl’s documentary, ended up modeling much of his character on Buck’s gentleness and humanity. Mr. Brannaman’s techniques stress kindness (how you treat a horse reflects how you treat your family and other people in your life) combined with firmness.
“What makes Buck- the movie so uncommonly affecting is the tormented past of Buck the man. As little boys, he and his brother performed blindfold rope tricks in a theatrical act created by their brutish father. Buck was beaten regularly and unmercifully as a boy, broken in ways no one would wish on any animal. How he survived is a mystery, how he was rescued is a marvel, and how he used his torment to transform himself is an inspiration.” (Joe Morgenstern, _The Wall Street Journal)