A quiet but always involving look at a vanishing way of life.
Captured on video over 24 years, this gives us an intimate look into the dwindling American cowboy, working independently, struggling against the elements and the banks, dealing with rifts within families. The main cowboy followed, the aging Vern Sager has an adult son who has turned away from the ranch and into rodeo riding, an even more dangerous and less secure path.
There's a lot of rough hewn visual poetry in watching the rhythms of this tough life, and some of the cowboys show a wicked sense of dark wit as well. The film takes no overt stand on the more horrific aspects of the life for the cattle, but it spares us nothing in showing castrations, branding, etc done without anesthetic. It's a hard existence for the cowboys and an even tougher one for the cattle, and yet we feel the odd bond between the two at the same time. A quiet but always involving look at a vanishing way of life.
NB: the film can be hard to find, but can be ordered on line from DCTV, a documentary collective in New York. They have a large number of otherwise unavailable docs by solid film makers like Alpert.
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