From the early days of film, America turned to the cowboy, that stoic dust-covered hero in leather and denim, to create a origin myth about ourselves, to define ourselves as we trotted out of our isolationist past into a global future. Now that bronco-ridin’ figure, so much as he ever existed in true life, is in his sunset years—the movie theaters are no longer filled with blackhats and buckaroos and those factory-bred cattle no longer need much rustlin’. But “The Ride”, a new documentary from Vice Films—the offshoot of the longstanding counter-culture New York magazine—on the young bucks of the Professional Bull Riding circuit who risk life and limb to keep the spirit of the American cowboy alive in our times.
Premiering at next month’s SXSW Film Festival, “The Ride” is a beautiful, if unvarnished look at a rare, marginalized lifestyle—being one of the 45 members of the PBR who visit arenas from Madison Square Garden to the deserts of the Southwest pursuing glory and a paycheck in a Winnebago. Beyond the excitement and danger (one rider died during production) of the rodeos, the film follows these men—often boys, really—in the long stretches of boredom and discovery as they ride their motor home steeds across this great land. The exteriors alone, shot by director Meredith Danluck and cinematographer Jake Burghart alone offer a rare tour of America’s slowly vanishing wide open spaces as they track our slowly vanishing cowboys.
For more information on “The Ride” visit www.viceland.com.
For more information on how to visit the SXSW Music and Film festivals, March 12 – 25, 2010, Austin, Texas, U.S.A., go to www.sxsw.com
For a complete tour of America as seen in your favorite films, pick up a copy of “Film + Travel: North America/South America” today.
Images courtesy of Vice Films