Sweetgrass

Root Event

Werkleitz Festival 2011 ZOO
Film programme
Sweetgrass
16. 10. 2011

This documentary, made by the anthropologists and filmmakers Lucien Castaing-Taylor und Ilisa Barbash, accompanies the shepherds from one of the last family ranches in the Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains over three summers. The images of the breathtaking landscape, the endless herds and the lonely shepherds on horseback fulfill all the promises of the American myth of the West. We see real men undertaking one of the last adventures on this earth. The filmmakers have attached wireless microphones to the film’s protagonists that transmit their most intimate commentary even in extreme long shots. The technical contrast between the expansive image and the close-in sound corresponds to the representation of the happenings. We see a romantic rider before his herd at the same time as we hear him cursing his flock as ‘cocksuckers’ and ‘fucking whores’. Yet when the lonely Western hero on his majestic mountain top calls his mother on his portable to complain about his useless dog, the atrocious job and his constant knee pains, even then the romanticism of the image is not entirely eclipsed by the realism of the spoken word. A trace of myth remains, though weathered like the ragged crags around the smooth summer meadows.

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