Sunday night we saw Last of the Spanish Mustangs. This is a documentary by local filmmaker Len Johnson. The film looks at horse slaughter in the U.S. (mostly for European countries where horse meat is a delicacy), particularly the slaughter of wild horses rounded up on public lands.
I have to give major respect to Len for making this films. It cost him a lot of money out of pocket and put him in a lot of dangerous situations, from confronting those selling wild horses to slaughter to connecting with the horses themselves in the wild. It was a real labor of love, very genuine, and he does get his message across.
However, I can't say this was a great documentary. Too much of Len's TV background comes through, and it comes across as an overly long local TV special, not a film in its own right. Much of the humor just doesn't fly, and I think some of the better arguments that could be made for protecting the mustangs were left unexplored (perhaps focusing on the biological uniqueness and scarcity of the horses, rather than condemning horse slaughter and consumption outright?). He reveals a lot of shady government and business activities related to the horses. Yet, we already know the government and big business are shady. I kept waiting for a compelling argument and found none. At the same time, the emotional connection with the horses was scattered throughout the film, lessening the impact it might have.
Last of the Spanish Mustangs is a good, not great documentary with a lot of heart.