Beyond Big Tex

'Ride Around the World' IMAXes cowboy culture

Beyond Big Tex

If writer/director/producer Harry Lynch senses any irony about enjoying a steak salad while discussing Ride Around the World, his IMAX homage-on-the-range to cattle, horses, and cowboys, he isn't letting on. He's savoring both the meat and his accomplishment at the end of the trail. Ride traces the global history of the cowboy culture, from Moorish horsemen to Spanish conquistadores, from vaqueros in Mexico to cowpokes in Texas and up northward into British Columbia. Lynch recently sat down to talk with the Chronicle about the film just prior to its Austin premiere.

Austin Chronicle: What drew you to the subject of a film on the global evolution of the cowboy?

Harry Lynch: If you're from Texas, somewhere in your past is a cowboy. Most people have a real preconceived notion of what the cowboy is. He's Anglo, he wears a Stetson, he rides a horse, but that's just part of the story. We wanted to go back and trace the lineage of the horse-and-cattle culture to its beginnings. It's a 1,500-year-old tradition, not a 150-year-old tradition. It's multinational. The people who practice it speak several different languages, yet they all have a similar philosophy that's born from working with horses, working outdoors, taking care of animals. This is a homegrown product. When we were shooting in Texas, the entire crew was from Austin. Postproduction, almost all of it happened in Austin. The score was written by an Austin composer (Brian Satterwhite), and every musician on it except for one is an Austin musician.

AC: What were some of the difficulties of producing an IMAX film?

HL: It's a spectacular visual format, but a really challenging format to work in. The camera pulls almost six feet of film every second, it breaks constantly, the film costs about a thousand dollars a minute, and the magazine only holds three minutes. But, from a business standpoint, in the feature-film world, you make a film with this kind of budget, and it could be a really good film and go nowhere. In the IMAX world, if you make a good film, it will be seen. It's funny – a lot of IMAX films are made more than once. There've been five films on sharks, 12 films on dinosaurs, 14 films on outer space ...

AC: Aside from West Texas, the film utilizes a lot of scenic, exotic locales – Morocco, Chile, Canada, Argentina...

HL: Every place was hard to get to. But that's part of the thing about making a movie like this. You have to take people to places that they have never been before, and likely will never go themselves. And that was a nice coincidence with our story because these kind of people live in these kind of places. You don't find thriving cowboy cultures very often that are within driving distance of a city. They're way, way out there.

AC: The movie plays more like a feature film than an IMAX documentary.

HL: Each time I was envisioning how to structure a scene I'd try to do it in a feature-film kind of way – more camera setups, more close-ups, and a much faster editing pace. It allowed us to keep the film more active, and hopefully more fun.

AC: The footage of horses is spectacular.

HL: Cowboys love horses, all of them; it's the thing that unites them. Me and every crew member developed a huge love for horses, and I hope that when people watch this film, they get that same sensation. We want people to walk away from this movie feeling like they've got to climb in the saddle and ride a horse.

Ride Around the World opens June 3 in the IMAX Theatre at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. For a review and showtimes, see Film Listings.

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Ride Around the World, Harry Lynch, IMAX

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