What You Need To Know:
BUCK is enthralling and inspiring. It has connotations beyond horse training, because Buck’s gentle, wise philosophy of training horses can be applied to raising children and other human relationships. There’s some brief foul language in BUCK, and a feral horse bites one man’s head to the point of bleeding, so caution is advised for older pre-teenagers.
(BB, CC, LL, V, N, M) Strong moral worldview with some brief Christian references; 12 mostly “d” obscenities with a few “h” obscenities, one SOB, one “s” obscenity, and two light exclamatory profanities (God! and My God!); light violence includes bucking horses, feral brain-damaged horse runs at people, feral horse nips the head of one man to the point of bleeding, and discussion of being beaten by an abusive alcoholic father; no sexual content; upper male nudity; no alcohol use depicted but protagonist’s biological father is said to be an abusive alcoholic; no smoking or drugs; and, man jokes that a man with a vacuum cleaner is a powerful aphrodisiac to a woman.
BUCK is a marvelous, outstanding documentary about the captivating life and message of the major consultant for Robert Redford’s movie THE HORSE WHISPERER, based on the popular novel.
Buck Brannaman is the third in an unrelated line of famous “horse whisperers,” who teach ranchers and riders to use gentle methods in training horses. A true cowboy, Buck and his older brother suffered abuse at the hands of their alcoholic father, who trained the two boys to become rope trick performers. The abuse got worse when their mother died. When the police found out about the abuse, Buck was placed in the care of a wonderful foster family.
As the movie reveals Buck’s personal history, it follows him on his nine-month annual tour of the United States, holding four-day clinics for ranchers, horse trainers and riders. One of his daughters accompanies him during the summer months.
The horse clinics begin with Buck teaching people how to use harmless flags on sticks to guide the horses and even pet them when they do good. This overcomes the horse’s fear and builds trust between them and the rider. Then, when the time comes to ride the trained horse, Buck shows his students how they can gently steer the horse, often without using the reins.
The movie’s climax involves Buck trying to train a feral horse that was deprived of oxygen when it was born. The horse proves to be untrainable, and Buck chastises the owner for coming to him too late. When he learns that the owner also is in charge of a group of feral horses who haven’t been trained, Buck advises her to work on her own mental health, because “Your horses are a mirror to your soul.”
It becomes clear, while watching Buck perform his magic with horses, that his method is based on the Golden Rule, to treat others, including horses, how you yourself want to be treated. Buck also appears to be a devoted family man. The movie contains some brief positive Christian content, especially when Buck is with his beloved foster mother during one of the movie’s sections.
BUCK is enthralling and inspiring. It’s a movie that has connotations beyond horse training. As Director Cindy Meehl notes, “Overcoming a horse’s fear and earning its trust has a lot in common with raising a child or sustaining a relationship.” There’s some brief foul language in BUCK, however, and the dangerous feral horse nips one man’s head to the point of bleeding, so caution is advised for older pre-teenagers.