Monday, August 15, 2011

Buck (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


In this age of informational overload, news panic and celebrity culture, it is tempting to return to nature. "Buck" the new documentary by Cindy Meehl is an accessible and thoughtful step to this return, specifically to horses.

The documentary centers on Buck Brannaman, revered horse trainer and roper. With a name like Buck Brannaman, how could you not be a horse-trainer or a cowboy of a sort?
Buck lives horses. He is a man of the earthen ground and his calm deliberate gait together with his beige hat seems to pay tribute to his horses. Life wasn't easy for Buck. He was a professional entertainer with horses at the age of three. His father was an alcoholic with an extremely violent streak. He beat Buck severely and often.

Unsure of what to do, he ran and his gym teacher noticed the bruises. Loving foster parents took Buck in and the horses were also waiting.

Through the horses, Buck came out of his fear and his paralyzing shyness. Pointed and deliberate in his speech, Buck mirrors his horses and his horses mirror him. They are twin equine shadows, borne of the earth to gallop and herd and help others, one clinic at a time.
But it isn't all Buck. We also see the horses, majestic and in deep focus. There is one hair raising episode featuring a beautiful blonde horse. Sadly the horse who was already oxygen-deprived at birth, grew as an orphan with no training or socialization. Now into adulthood, the horse is a serious danger. Shockingly, the horse bites his rider in the head. This segment in the film is rather gory, almost as bloody as any horror film.

The weight falls to Buck and we feel it. He somehow has the ability to take up all the pain and rope it into a detatched calm. Nobody moves.

"Stay still. Don't do anything." He commands. And the horse goes into the transport cage to be put down after the attack.

"Humans failed this horse," Buck states sharply, like a Zen master with a stick and then moves on to the others.

Like his horses, Buck takes life as is with little need for pretense or ego. We see him travel from town to town with his family, talking and laughing.

The shapes of fear in the form of his raging father have left him. With compassion and rigor, he goes from person to person sometimes being a tough- love life coach:

"Your life's a mess and you're in trouble. If you won't listen to me, maybe you'll listen to your horses."

The woman understandably shaken from her predator horse, starts to cry. Buck has a singularity of purpose to enlighten others of the human horse connection and the barbarism of rodeos circuses and show-horses.

At the films end, Buck prances over the ground with his horse doing a dance. In that one clicking step, there is no dischord, unease or patriarchal menace from the past. Only a man and a horse.

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