Shown in a new restored print at the 2011 Telluride Film Festival, screening before Aki Kaurismaki’s new film Le Havre, Carroll Ballard’s 1969 documentary short Rodeo became the talk of the festival. For those who don’t know Ballard, he did 2nd Unit work on the original Star Wars film, and had a relatively successful career as a studio director before disappearing to a ranch in New Mexico, finding the studio system soul-crushing. When Francis Ford Coppola received his Lifetime Achievement Award from the DGA, he passed the award onto his old friend and classmate Ballard. Caroll Ballard is one of the great unsung heroes of the American film galaxy, and nowhere does his prowess shine more than in this early short, Rodeo.
Shot in four days during the 1968 National Rodeo Finals in Oklahoma City, this lyrical documentary was initially conceived as a USIA (a former USian cultural propaganda agency) project before being picked up by Marlboro, who asked that the film focus on the previous year’s champion, Larry Mahan. Despite essentially being a propaganda documentary, Rodeo uses unusual—one could say experimental—cinematic and sound choices, such as slow motion and a deconstructed rendition of Amazing Grace, to create a strikingly haunting portrait of this quintessentially American spectacle of violent domination.
236MB | 19m 33s | 960×540 | mkv