BUCK – Documentary Review

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Buck, referring to Buck Brannaman, is all About The Original Horse Whisperer

Gentle, calm and kind, Buck Brannaman can, it seems, tame any horse, and the creatures who ride them. The cowboy who is known as the ‘original horse whisperer,’ travels around the USA to various ranches, giving horse owners workshops about how to handle their steeds, especially those that have a will of their own and insist upon expressing it. Brannaman is followed by filmmaker Cindy Meehl, who captures the nuances of the horse whisperer’s communications — most of which are expressed through body language — as he shows humans how to ride as though they were one with their horses.

A Personal Approach

Brannaman has been working with horses since he was a boy. In fact, his father, a domineering man who had no inclination to spare the whip — even in his use of it on Buck and his brother — trained his sons to perform perfectly, doing rope tricks and other cowboy stunts. By the time Buck was released from his father’s cruel abuse, he was seriously scarred.

He has been working to overcome the pain of his childhood throughout his adult life. He’s not afraid to speak up about his past pain, making sure that he doesn’t pass it along to his own children and others. He uses the understanding he’s gained to teach others to be gentle and calm in their approach to life and its challenges.

Buck applies his life lessons to horses and to the humans who ride them. He is able to intuit what horses feel, what leads to their bad behavior. Problems with ill-tempered steeds, he suggests, do not arise because the horses are bad or recalcitrant. The problems are with the masters — that they are anxious, fearful or filled with other negative emotions that the houses sense. So, when Buck conducts workshops, he teaches riders not only the techniques with which to command their horses, he teaches them how to relate interpersonally with their horses. It’s amazing to watch and see the results.

If you’ve seen the narrative feature, The Horse Whisperer, you should know that Buck is not only the inspiration for the Robert Redford character, he also worked as a consultant on the movie, showing Redford the ropes, so to speak.

Pure Soul…

Cindy Meehl, herself a rider, has such a clear understanding of Buck, and such tremendous respect, that she’s able to capture the horse whisperer’s most subtle intent and communications. A lot of what he does is expressed through body language. If, when in the saddle, Buck leans back ever so slightly, the horse he’s riding backs up. He has horses doing sideways dressage steps without uttering a word of command, without steering the steed with the reins. If horses are jumpy, they calm quickly when he moves into their sphere.

There is one exception shown in the film, and it is quite dramatic and heartbreaking. But no spoilers here.

Buck Brannaman is pure soul, and so is this film. Whether you own a horse or not, ride or not, Buck has some mighty life lessons in store, and they are presented in a purely gentle and inspiring way.

Film Details:

Title: Buck
Director: Cindy Meehl
Theatrical Release Date: June 17, 2011
Running Time: 88 mins.
Parents Advisory: Advisory for content
Locations: USA, on the road and on various horse ranches across the country.
Language: English
Distribution Company: IFC Films
Official Website

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