A Movie A Day #82: Sweetgrass (2009, directed by Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor)


101 minutes of sheep and mountains.

That’s the best description that I can give of Sweetgrass.  Sweetgrass is a documentary about shepherds in Montana who take a herd of sheep across the Beartooth Mountains.  There is no real plot.  The shepherds are not interviewed and very little is revealed about who they are.  They are men of few words so mostly the only sound heard is the constant baas of the sheep.  One of the shepherds does yell at the sheep, usually to curse at them for wandering off.  It is only at the end of the documentary that it is revealed that this was the last time that the shepherds herded their sheep and that their ranch, after 104 years of operation, closed the following year.

The scenery is often amazing and the documentary works as a record of and a tribute to a dying way of life.  Sweetgrass does not attempt to explain why these men do the work that they do or why the ranch is finally having to close.  It is a pure documentary, with no outside commentary, making it both enlightening and frustrating.  How much you enjoy Sweetgrass will depend on how much patience you have for baaing sheep.

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2 responses to “A Movie A Day #82: Sweetgrass (2009, directed by Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor)

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