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Wild Beauty: Mustang Spirit of the West

average rating is 5 out of 5


Jason Knight


Posted on:

Oct 1, 2023

Film Reviews
Wild Beauty: Mustang Spirit of the West
Directed by:
Ashley Avis
Written by:
Ashley Avis
Ashley Avis, Kimerlee Curyl, Jenny Lesieutre, Erik Molvar

A powerful documentary about the issues surrounding the survival of wild horses in the United States.


Originating as a love letter to wild horses and from Avis's 2020 modern-day retelling of Black Beauty, this feature-length documentary investigates the actions by several organisations as they catch wild horses in the Western United States in events that are called 'round-ups', with the intention of selling them for meat and to make room for more productive live stock raising, such as cows and sheep. The result is the number of horses living free in the wild decreasing dramatically and Avis and her crew attempt to discover the procedures involving this, how it all began and the efforts that are done by people today in hope of putting an end to these unjust occurrences.


Following a beautiful intro, the film goes on to reveal how wonderful wild horses are and how much their existence contributes to the beauty of their natural environment. Then things move to the threat: horses being gathered by force and taken away from their home (and their loved ones). The crew film as horses are chased by helicopters, placed inside large vehicles and driven to small holding facilities, where they await their fate and watching all this is devastating. The horses are mishandled so badly that some die as a result. The suffering that the horses go through covers a massive part of the documentary's content and apart from that, the audience will see people protesting against the removal of horses from their home and children writing letters to the government, requesting that wild horses are protected.


The documentary works almost as a thriller, with the crew filming the round-ups, visiting the places where horses are being kept with hidden cameras and secretely filming auctions, where horses are sold and treated like objects. Various individuals are interviewed, including Dr. Yvette Running Horse Collin, Phd, an Oglala Lakota County scientist, Erik Molvar, a Wildlife Biologist, Jenny Lesieutre, a Public Affairs Specialist and members of the Bureau of Land Management, who are the ones carrying out the round-ups. Significantly, President Nixon's attempts to protect the wild horses are mentioned and so are reports that show statistics referring to the decline of these animals in the wild.


Avis, who is also the narrator and editor, does a fantastic job as the director, creating shots with breathtaking landscapes and the mesmerising sequences where horses are running in slow motion. All these look splendid significantly thanks to Kai Krause's cinematography and Guillaume Roussel's sentimental and dramatic score.


This documentary shows how unique and wonderful wild horses are and how cruelly they are becoming an endangered species. It is an informative, emotional and heartbreaking viewing that deserves recognition due to the issues that it raises and hopefully, many people will watch this feature and become more aware regarding the threat towards the survival of these mammals and also become encouraged to take action.

About the Film Critic
Jason Knight
Jason Knight
Indie Feature Film, Documentary
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