Friend April Baxter treated me and June Chism to a trip to San Antonio to see this movie. It’s a documentary, of four guys who traveled 3,000 miles on horseback from the border of Mexico/Arizona to the Canadian border in 2013. It is beyond compare. The cameraman shot 500 hours of film and produced this. So incredibly good. It is the first movie I have seen in at least three years or more.
The four are recent graduates of Texas A&M, all about 21-23 years old, full of strength, hope ideals, energy, resilience. Lots of accidents and horrifying moments caught on film, as when a horse rolls backwards down a steep rocky slope, guys are bucked off (these are recently gentled mustangs) and other spoilers which I will not repeat in order to save the great moments for you. And some of the moments are heartbreaking.
At one point they have to go through a tunnel cut through a mountain, the cameraman is directly behind one of the boys leading a packhorse through, the packhorse suddenly balks, (No tunnel shit for me!) the horse starts to run backward right into the lens, the camera turns upside down and all goes black for a moment. Well-cut, brave cameraman.
The four speak directly to the camera at various points. The cutting is not sentimental, or overly gorgeous. The cameraman and the editor have, let us say, an unsentimental eye but on the other hand the country they pass through, from the Arizona desert to Glacier National Park on the Canadian border it would take a heart of stone not to open the heart of the eye to it. The rapid cutting when they reach a town and get happily and publicly drunk, get a shave, a bath — this is a cliché that could have been heavy and dragging but it was cut very very fast, and was quite funny.
Inside the daily grind and the accidents and the joking is a subtle theme of conflict and betrayal. You will have to see it for yourself. But one of the guys pulls a dirty little backstab at the very end. And I thought, ‘you bastard’. He rode all that way just to get in his petty revenge against the leader. But this only made it a true drama.
It is everything I said in a earlier post about the universal and ancient theme of ‘the band of brothers’. The guys are all photogenic (but who is not when one is young and fit?) and they grow to know and love every horse they have and finally make it. So go see it.