By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin June 23, 2011 at 4:30AM
Some years ago, Robert Redford made an excellent movie called The Horse Whisperer, based on Nicholas Evans’ novel. It turns out that a horseman named
Buck Brannaman helped inspire Evans to create the character that Redford played; he even worked on the movie. This new documentary shows that Buck’s real-life story is as compelling as any piece of fiction, and filmmaker Cindy Meehl has brought it to life with enormous skill and good taste. (Even Redford attests to—
— Buck’s amazing presence.)
Buck is a natural on-camera. We travel with him from one horse-training clinic to another, as he passes on his hard-earned wisdom and demonstrates how to work with the animals in a quiet, humane manner—so different from the way horses were “broken” out West for generations. He believes that if there’s a problem along the way it more likely reflects the owner than the horse. In the course of the film we learn first-hand how right he is.
Because Meehl reveals Buck’s story one layer at a time, I don’t want to give much away; everyone should have the experience of learning about this remarkable man who overcame many obstacles to become the tranquil and inspiring figure he is today. Buck is an exceptional movie.