Grazing the Utah grasslands is a herd of Bison — a species whose majestic profile evokes the very essence of the frontier, and whose appearance in packs begs a sense of fearful reverence. To bring so mighty a being to its grave, whether for sustenance, sport, or the nourishment of a sadistic attitude, is no paltry task. Still, settled among these roving kings of the plain, is a pack of tired, old cowboys who would have you pay for a handheld tour of such ruination.
The Last Buffalo Hunt is an often nuanced documentary, and as many will say, perhaps too much so. But for the inclusion of one particularly racist joke (which was not recounted by the film’s subject, rather one of his oddly uninhibited clientele), it nails a surprising degree of objectivity in depiction of the story’s primary antagonism. Aesthetically, the matter is neither bloodlessly romanticized nor is it simplistically vilified. For so inflammatory a subject, this is, to my mind, not a cowardly achievement, instead, it applies a subtle pressure on the quality of the film’s thematic dialog. The viewer is introduced to an especially interesting exploration of the paradoxical nature of romance and plight in the perennially adolescent American West, the profound influence of what can only be described as a culture with a self-propagandizing predilection, and the balance and justness of the battleground man is wont to leave in his warpath set against nature.
- The Last Buffalo Hunt (Schmitt 2011) @ Sundance Kabuki Cinemas #SFIFF