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"I'm helping horses with people problems." Buck Brannaman
If you love horses, Buck will not buck you. If you don't love them, this documentary will make you love Buck Brannaman, the inspiration for the novel The Horse Whisperer and technical adviser to Robert Redford on the film of the same name.
Interestingly enough, you don't see him whisper; he just snaps and waves a couple of red flags to convince the animal he cares about them. His results, even with the feistiest and most deadly horses, are remarkably successful. Buck is a soft song of praise to a wrangler psychologist whose gift with horses defies analysis, so unassuming is he, so gentle that he appears not to be working at all.
His interaction with humans is just as successful with clinics all over the West to show owners and trainers how to tame the liveliest colts. His loving relationship with his wife and daughter, who performs at rodeos with him, is a testimony to his belief that humans are key to the happiness of the animals.
His no nonsense advice is nowhere more effective than when he tells a rancher about the effect of her neuroses on the troubled horse he is attending to. Tough love.
When Buck asks, "Why let an animal live in fear?" it is apparent Buck has a connection with horses that goes beyond breaking them for riding. When he describes how a horse naturally fears a human on his back in the same way one jumped by a lion does, the lesson about empathy is clear.
Buck is a cowboy with a remarkably wry sense of humor and self-effacing pride. His tough love melts into a universal love that straddles the beast and human worlds.
The back story about his abuse by his father adds to his credibility and mitigates the otherwise thin deconstruiction of his persona. While I am frustrated because of the film's unwillingness to probe deeper into his talent and his psyche, what you get is what you get: a man gifted with horsesand humans.
Greetings again from the darkness. I made a point to attend the opening
night of the film as its subject, Buck Brannaman, was slated to hold an
audience Q&A after the film. Unfortunately, he was running a bit late,
so we only got about 8 minutes of his time. Still, this remarkable man
made an impression ... an impression of authenticity and realism. He
may perform a "show", but his is no "act".
The inspiration for, and technical adviser on, the film "Horse Whisperer", Buck Brannaman explains early in the film that a horse views a human tossing a saddle on his back much the way he would view a lion attack. Such is the manner in which this man makes his points to the eager and often doubting horse owners who attend his clinics. Buck then proceeds to win over horse and human alike with wit, strength, character, kindness and toughness.
First time documentarian Cindy Meehl does a decent job of presenting the similarities of horse training and child-rearing. Buck's philosophy stems from the earlier work of Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt, but is further influenced by the less-than-stellar parenting tactics of his father. Buck and his brother Bill (stage name Smokie) were child rodeo stars who performed rope tricks under the firm hand of their dad. It is clear from the footage that they feared their father. In an unlikely twist of fate, the boys are rescued from the abusive environment thanks to the actions of a football coach and deputy sheriff. To fully understand the brave actions of these two men, one must take into account the normal custom in rural America of minding one's own business. These men didn't do that and Buck was given a new life.
Watching a quick clip of the "old" horse training techniques really brings home Buck's more gentle and understanding style. He stresses the importance of understanding the horse and being clear with one's affection and intentions. His flag waving and lead rope actions can win over a horse in a short time. The surprising part is that the horse's owner learns every bit as much as their horse. Buck is clear in that the issue with most "problem" horses can be tracked right back to the owner. The same can be said for most kids. Just as he says trying to bribe a horse with carrots and sugar leads to a spoiled, unresponsive horse, the same argument can be made for that type of parenting approach.
The frustrating part of the film is that it doesn't really climb inside the head of Buck. We see a glimpse of a man who has overcome childhood atrocities, but we also see a man who loves his family ... yet spends months at a time away from them. We see fire in his eyes as he addresses a horse owner who has the gall to keep 17 studs in her pasture. It's obvious he fights his own demons towards those who mistreat animals, yet as he lectures we wonder if his care is really for the horse more than the person. It was also strange that no real mention of his brother was provided in the film. We could say it's none of our business, but the film brings up the issue of childhood and then leaves us hanging on the brother.
Truly the inspiration to Buck's turnaround is his foster mother. She lights up the screen as she talks about Buck as a child and cracks wise with her observations and the telling of a joke. Her love for Buck is obvious and we hope he realizes just how fortunate he is to have had her in his life.
This is an inspirational man who is making a difference in the lives of people and horses. He has overcome childhood obstacles to make the world a better place. His cowboy philosophy is pretty simple. Everyone carries some darkness and baggage, and we can all make our own choices on whether to let that affect our value and enjoyment in life.
"God had him in mind when he made the cowboy." A documentary following
the real life "Horse Whisperer" Buck Brannaman. Talking a little about
the movie, but mainly focused on how he starts the horses and how and
why he does what he does. I've ridden a horse once in my life, and it
was on a Yellowstone led ride so I don't think that counts, so I was
watching this just because I saw Buck on Letterman and because he lives
out here. This is one of the most fascinating documentaries I have ever
seen, and this is a movie that appeals to all people, not just horse
people. It's hard not to like Buck after hearing his story and
listening to him talk. This is a definite must see. Overall, there is a
line in the movie that sums it up best..."I went in convinced I wasn't
gonna appreciate anything I saw." We were both wrong. Very good film. I
give this an A.
Would I watch again? - I think I would *Also try - Horse Whisperer
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Saw "Buck" today. Most memorable lines: "A horse can feel a mosquito
land on its butt..." "You can move a horse with your energy. It's a
dance." "I live in the moment." "I haven't grown up yet." In the film,
Robert Redford says that Buck is the "real deal" and he is. Of the
three men that Nicholas Evans based his popular novel, "The Horse
Whisperer" on, Buck Brannaman is the sole surviving one. This biopic
shows Buck's "day at the office" as he travels from ranch to farm,
teaching groundwork, horsemanship, colt starting, ranch roping and
cattle work. He misses his family but when together, it is obvious that
it is quality time for all.
It may seem heavy-handed in our politically correct society to take someone's money for a service and then tell them something they may not want to hear. It may not seem like good customer service, but is it better to placate--the easier path--or to help? As someone with a lot of his own baggage, Buck recognizes it in his clients and knows it builds braces, hardness and even shut-down in their horses. He calls it as he sees it. Some can take it and learn. Others pack and leave.
Buck's candor and dry wit are reminiscent of another cowboy, Will Rogers. It gets under your skin and sticks like a burr in a blanket. It has a sense of timelessness, ancient wisdom, mystical, yet somehow, something that is known telepathically to herd creatures. He translates for the human.
"Buck" is a movie about a genuine human being who cares about others and--yes, more importantly--the horses who need an advocate to express their feelings. It shows that instead of letting a hard start in life be a stumbling block, it can be a challenge to a more elevated spiritual level. A win/win for all.
If some get the feeling that Buck prefers horses to humans, understand that horses speak truth. Their reactions reflect the treatment they have received and it can be read like a book. He says, "Your horse is a mirror of you. Some may not like what they see." Some might.
"Buck" barely flips the pages of Buck's life experience in the 88-minute final cut of the 300 minutes filmed, but that 88 minutes is intriguing to many--even those who have never touched nor owned a horse.
Informational, moving and just an awesome documentary, I always wanted
to ride a horse or own one in the future and I thought that the whole
breaking aspect would require me to beat the living crap of the horse
or just show him that I am more powerful than him. Boy I was wrong,
this documentary taught me a lot of things, it helped me to understand
more about horses and how they respond and behave. From what I learned,
they're just like little kids who need to be taught or guided. You can
beat the kid or you can form a relationship where he can understand
what's right and wrong. It also gives you an insight about how animals
behave and how much your energy molds their behavior. Buck isn't a
miracle worker, he is just a human being who is sensitive to Animals,
if you focus hard enough and spend some time you can have the same bond
as Buck has with the horses. It's all about respect, guts and love.
All your horses are a mirror to your soul, if they behave badly, if they bite or attack others it's probably because you're the same way, the more humble, kind and loving you are, the more the Animal would be like you. Buck is honestly a real humble human being, considering his past and what has been through, it's amazing how different he is and that simple fact inspires me that I can be different, I can be good and loving to my future sons or daughters. I suggest you give this a watch; it's really something that will help you understand some simple yet essential things.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a fascinating documentary about the adult professional life of
a man (Buck Brannaman) who, along with his slightly older brother
(Smokey), was repeatedly physically abused by their father.
Fortunately, a school coach saw their wounds and the boys were placed
in a good foster home.
Until then, their father had them performing roping acts on western circuits of cowboy shows. After their father lost custody, Buck continued his interest in horses and was influenced by 2 horse trainers with an atypical approach and with whom he trained. Buck extended their teaching and methods in developing his non-punitive, empathic style of training horses (not by "breaking" them). Buck, according to Robert Redford who makes several cameo appearances, served as an extremely valuable consultant for the movie, "The Horse Whisperer;" that film was based on a novel of the same name that was partially inspired by Buck's teaching.
Anyone interested in animal training and communication between animals and humans will find this film of great interest. Anyone who appreciates the triumph of the human spirit against great odds will love it.
I've long had a professional interest in the intergenerational transmission process (the way certain behaviors, e.g., child abuse, good or bad parenting, etc.) are often passed down through the generations. As with a number of others on this film's IMDb Message Board, while I rejoice in Buck's breaking free from the chains of this terrible misfortune and transforming the pains he suffered into a way of helping horses and their owners, I miss some mention of how his brother, Smokey, and Smokey's family fared. Maybe this was not mentioned because Smokey's transformation was much less? And I'm also very curious about the background of Buck's father--was he also abused as a child or from what did his terrible behavior arise? But that would require a different focus or side journeys.
This movie focuses on the results of Buck's transformation and the wonderful way he teaches others to work with horses. It's very touching--both warm and uplifting as well as with its sad moments.
As a movie, I rate it 8/10. But for animal lovers (and marriage & family therapists): 10/10 -- a must see.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Well I have to admit, one of the things that drew me to this film when
I noticed it at my local library was that the guy on the cover looked
like Robert Duvall in his role as Boss Spearman from the movie "Open
Range". I wasn't thinking documentary, but when I read the liner notes
I thought it would be an interesting film to watch. It turns out that
the real life story of Buck Brannaman could actually have been a
Hollywood movie treatment. Raised along with an older brother by an
abusive father after his mom passed away, the adult Buck Brannaman
strikes you as a soft spoken but tortured soul who finds meaning and
compassion in working with horses as his life's work. I can't say I
remember the Brannaman Boys, Buckshot and Smokie from their Kellogg's
Sugar Pops commercial, but I'm sure there are some who do. The picture
makes mention of Brannaman's role as a consultant on Robert Redford's
movie "The Horse Whisperer", and once again, it goes to show that
sometimes a simple guy with common sense can get a job done after the
'professionals' have exhausted every effort only to end in failure.
The thing that bugged me about the picture was the way it left you hanging about brother Smokie - what happened to him? There was a present day photo of the Brannamans together during the closing credits, and it would have been helpful to learn that he didn't wind up a total wreck because of father Ace. As for Buck, it appears he successfully overcame his past to become a good husband and family man, even though his job keeps him away from home nine months out of the year.
I don't think you need to be a horse lover to watch this movie. It's message of love and compassion toward animals has equal application to that of everyday life with fellow human beings. If you do tune in, stick around for the closing credits for Buck's favorite joke told by his adoptive mother. I had never heard it before, and it's really funny. In fact, I'm still laughing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Buck is a documentary about the life and horse training style of Buck
If it were a documentary short it would win an Oscar. As a feature it is a bit redundant and goes back a bit too many times to the child abuse issues that formed the man and his techniques. It's a there are no bad horses, just bad owners or trainers premise. A scene of extreme horse abuse seemed to have enhanced sound that takes liberties with the documentary format.
Horses are treated with the utmost respect; cows not so much.
Beautiful people, beautiful horses, and some beautiful scenery make this easy to watch. It doesn't hurt to have Robert Redford on screen.
Documentaries tend to get limited distribution. Buck is worth seeking out.
*** (out of 4)
Nice look at Buck Brannaman, the man best known as being a "horse whisperer" and was seen in the Robert Redford movie. This is a pretty interesting look at a man that many people might not have known about but after watching this it's pretty hard to forget him. Now, I should mention that I'm in no way, shape or form a "horse" lover so I'm probably not the best person for a film like this. I'm sure those horse lovers will be even more interested in the subject so I'm sure they'll connect with it even more than I did. Still, I think the real key to the film is that it shows someone who was able to work through the horrors in their own life and try to show compassion for another person or animal in this case. Buck talks about the horrors that his father put on him as a child, which included a lot of physical abuse. There's a damning story of Buck being so afraid of getting a beating that we slept out side in freezing temperatures just because the cold was better than going into the house where his father was. I really thought it was fascinating hearing how Buck takes the violence that was put upon himself and knows how to turn it around to show compassion towards others. Of course, many people are going to want to see him work his "job" and we get some pretty good shots of him working with horses and trying to cure them of whatever the problem might be. At just 87-minutes the film never overstays its welcome and for the most part I thought it was a nice look at a rather interesting man.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's been a long, long time since I fell in love in the movies. I think
the last man who moved metruly moved mewas Hugh Grant in Notting
Hill. To be honest, I think it was more about me maybe being Julia
Roberts from that film and winning the last brownie with a sad tale
about my life being better than her tale of plastic surgery. But either
way, it's been a long time.
I fell in love with Buck. Buck Brannaman is the real Horse Whisperer. I loved the book, and after I saw the Robert Redford movie I sensed that the real horse whisperer would take me away. But I was clueless about how real it would be. First, of all, Buck is handsome in that shy, doesn't-quite-look-you-in-the-eye kind of way. He's humble, although he really has no reason to be. He enters a ring with these massive animals which I also have always lovedand they turn into puppies under his hand. And he has great hands. There is one scene in which he shows the give-and-take relationship that a horse and rider need to have with his hands, and you just know he would do that in his personal relationships as well.
Buck had a bad childhood. His father beat him, and his mother left him by dying way too early in his life. He quietly explains how that made him who he is today, and he shows the anger he feels and the damage that resulted from it. Rising above your history is a choice, and he recognizes that, but pretending your past isn't with you anymore is a lie, and in my experience it's rare for someone to be able to leave behind the residue of childhood that holds you back. Buck does it.
There are fabulous moments between Buck and his foster mother, Buck and his daughter, and yes, Buck and his present wifewhom he will likely not have the strength to leave when we finally meet. He's a loyal kind of guy for sure. I will understand in a Bridges of Madison County sort of way and move on, carrying him with me forever in my heart. Alas. At least I know how to love.
The reason you should see this movie has nothing to do with Buck the man. You should see this movie for the relationship between a human and a horse, and for Buck's understanding of the potential in that relationship and what it can mean. Those of us who have horses, according to Buck, will see ourselves in the horse's actions. How you treat your horse is who you are. I loved my horse, Beach Boy, and I often think about him, and about the trainer who taught me some of the things that Buck brings to his student's table.
Indie films matter. Buck is one of the reasons why.
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