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Sweetgrass

3.7 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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(Aug 03, 2010)
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$19.49 & FREE Shipping on orders over $49. Details Only 3 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An unsentimental elegy to the American West, Sweetgrass follows the last modern-day cowboys to lead their flocks of sheep up into Montana's breathtaking and often dangerous Absaroka-Beartooth mountains for summer pasture. This astonishingly beautiful film reveals a world in which nature and culture, animals and humans, and vulnerability and violence are all intimately meshed.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Mastered on HD
- Audio commentary by filmmakers Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor
- Additional scenes
- Fan photo gallery
- Theatrical trailer
- 5.1 Soundtrack - Booklet featuring essay by film critic Robert Koehler

Review

"Magnificent... The first essential movie of this young year... A graceful and often moving meditation on a disappearing way of life." --Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

"A spectacular and visceral experience." --Ted Fry, Seattle Times

"Intensely beautiful. It could widen your soul." --Ty Burr, Boston Globe

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Pat Connelly
  • Directors: Ilisa Barbash, Lucien Castaing-Taylor
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Cinema Guild
  • DVD Release Date: August 3, 2010
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003FO80MI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,435 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Sweetgrass" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donna Hughes on July 6, 2011
Format: DVD
I can't believe the amount of whining here from many reviewers! We don't live out on a ranch, but we have had sheep for years and I have also worked around cowboys in my younger days. What I saw in this movie was the reality of working around livestock, which can be very aggrevating at times, and sometimes dangerous. Sheep do not just walk up, sit down and say "shear me please."!! They don't necessarily like their "person" being handled and they can and do jump, kick and struggle. You can get kicked or knocked down. Once the shearer sets them up, then they relax for the most part. And you try shearing that many sheep, doing it so carefully that there isn't a nick on them and you will be there for a month! This is a business and the idea is to make a living. As unpleasant as it is to dock tails, I thought they did it very nicely with a tool that docked and cauterized at the same time, as I used to see them dock tails and just let the blood run until it stopped, and while some didn't bleed much, others did.

They marked each ewe and lamb with a number so they could easily see who belonged to whom, and when you have that many ewes lambing in a short period of time, with any number of problems, like orphan lambs and birthing dificulties, you have to move quickly and do your best to solve things as you go along. There isn't always time to be gentle, warm and fuzzy about it.

Also it was filmed as a real experience with all the warts, not as some cleaned-up fantasy! The beginning showed an honest portrait of the sheep. It was a beautiful beginning. How could you feel anything for the sheep if you complained about this introductory footage? They have their moments. After that, sometimes it WAS dark. Sometimes there was chaos in the dark, as when scaring away the mama bear and her cubs.
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Format: Blu-ray
An ethnographic study of a vanishing way of life, Sweetgrass follows some of the last modern-day cowboys as they herd sheep into the beautiful Absaroka-Beartooth mountains. The film is an astonishing document, that recalls Merian Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack's Grass: A Nation's Battle For Life for its epochal scope, its subtle humor, and its profound depiction of the passing of a lifestyle.

The opening shots depict sheep in wintry pastures, barely standing out against the snow, the sounds of bleating and bell and the white overwhelm the senses. We see a single sheep, in a medium shot, bleating loudly, and then she turns to face the camera in silence. It is a strange moment, and an intriguing choice for a documentary film where the filmmakers seem barely present since its subjects - the sheep and the men and women who tend them - appear almost oblivious to the camera throughout, with rare exceptions such as in this opening shot where the subject of the film breaks the fourth wall, and stares at the camera. A defiant gaze.

The film demands some patience initially, but there is a highly satisfying payoff. The filmmakers work in a tradition of ethnographic filmmaking, attempting to capture a way of life without commentary, so that there is no voiceover, no explanation other than what can be observed. There is no human voice for the first several minutes of the film, and the first human voice we hear is of a farmer making peeping noises as she carries a baby lamb in order to encourage its mother to follow her.
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Format: DVD
This movie is an absolute work of art. Defying all the norms of documentary film-making, Sweetgrass lets the story unfold on it's own terms. No narrative, no quick cuts, no being lead by the nose from plot point to plot point, yet the film has pathos, humor, drama, artistry, and lots of reality. John Ahern is the real Marlboro man not the Hollywood version we've been taught to believe. THis is one of my favorite movies ever. I will say however, that it is not for everyone. It is subtle and moves in real time and I'm sure will leave many if not most people scratching their heads. Just as most people don't like the art in museums, or classical music, or jazz, or modern dance, most people will probably not like this movie. Too bad. BUt that's life.
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Format: DVD
<strong>Sweetgrass</strong> (Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, 2009)

<em>Sweetgrass</em> opens with two incredibly compelling shots that would do Béla Tarr proud. In some ways, they set the tone for the film; there's a lot of landscape, a lot of sheep, and a lot of lingering shots, either stationary or slow-pan. Barbash and Castaing-Taylor are well aware of Tarr. And if the movie played out its full length as it does in those first two shots and the twenty-five minutes that follow them, I would have put this pretty high on my list of favorite documentaries ever. Unfortunately, as you may surmise from that last sentence, it doesn't.

The first half-hour is gorgeous. It keeps up with the sheep-and-landscape theme. Humans exist in the movie, of course, but at no point during the first half-hour are those humans more than background noise, either in their presence in the film or the movie's sound (which, I should warn you, my wife found incredibly annoying; I had no problems with it). It is languid, and it is breathtaking.

Then the humans take center stage, and while I won't say the entire thing goes to pot, it takes a pretty sharp left turn in that direction. These are not likable folks, for the most part. Actually, I've been sitting here for ten minutes trying to come up with diplomatic ways to talk about this, and I can't. I hated these people. Every last one of them. The sheep have better personalities.

Whenever the directors left the humans and cut to another slow pan shot of a huge mountain with sheep coming down it or a tree framed in moonlight or a sheep's face in close-up, I rejoiced a little. I also spent some time hoping that there would be another human-free half-hour bookending the film, but (spoiler alert!) it was not to be.

Well worth watching for the first half-hour. Touch and go after that. ** ½
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