I had the dubious pleasure of catching this title at the Santa Fe Filmfestival.
I'm baffled as to how this has a 7.5 rating. I wasn't going to sayanything until I heard this won "best picture" at the festival.
This movie is essentially a native American / first American revengestory; its didactic goals are to remind us of the atrocities committedagainst the Indians by the federal government and people working underits tacit permission and to re-figure the typical "wild west" narrativeinto something that actually does justice to the story of NativeAmericans. This is accomplished by a kind of "modernization" of theplot setting: The protagonist, Sam (played by Wes Studi) is a rovingbounty hunter who captures Indian runaways from a nearby Indian School.This movie has some heavy political undertone. I grew up near "IndianSchool" road without the slightest notion of what the name of the roadwas derived from. This movie's job, then is to make a kind of "IndianDrama" in the story of the escapees of the school, their interactionswith Sam, and their ultimate destiny. But also, it is there to portraythe horrors that Indians faced in early-20th century America, horrorsthat are too often missing from Americans' self-knowledge.
These two drives end up pulling the film apart. But all of the abovewas written as if the movie above actually had any idea what they weretrying to say with the film. It's running length (114 minutes) isridiculous for a film of this subject and budget, the acting abysmal,the story banal.
What I have to say may be considered a "spoiler" if it deters anyonefrom watching this film. As a long time western movie fan, I always amfirst in line to view those films which attempt to give an honest(non-Hokeywood) portrayal of the Native American, and their struggle tosurvive the ruthless wanton destruction of their culture. I wanted tosee this movie after viewing the promos, and also because I am alongtime fan of Wes Studi, who has brought a strong integrity to everyperformance. This film is certainly no "Dances With Wolves", and didNOT, IMHO, live up to its potential, or my expectations, because itcouldn't make up its mind what it wanted to be - a cutting edge filmabout the way Native American children were brutally treated at thewhite man's "schools", - or just another hokey, cartoonish "Chase andShoot-em-up", with a dime novel lawman played over the top by J.Kenneth Campbell. Unfortunately it tried to be both, with the "dimenovel" side dominating, and in the process seriously diluted the impactit could've had. I will say that Winter Fox Frank was excellent in hispart as the runaway boy, and Wes Studi did the best he could with apart, and a script, that was NOT up to his level of talent. Watch it ifyou must, but know it's 115 minutes of your life you will never getback!!User: paul david
James Boyd is certainly right in many of the things he says about thismovie but this is definitely a movie to watch and not avoid.
We all know about cowboys and Indians from westerns. This is a westernwith a difference, the story obviously focuses on the young Indian boyand the bounty hunter character called Sam Franklin who also happens tobe a native Indian himself.
The film does well to analyse the rights and wrongs of our actions indefending something which is clearly fundamentally wrong but the lawpermits it. As has been said, the early 1900s depicts a sign of thechanging times, just as similarly depicted in 'Bury my Heart at WoundedKnee', another native Indian theme movie which I particularly liked.
Okay its not a great movie and it wont win any major awards but ittells the story it intends to tell and it brings to our attention anumber of issues at political area about the treatment of nativeIndians which it seems the American government has not (and perhapswill never) addressed.
I liked the movie, the acting is acceptable to the quality of thescript. Just enjoy the movie!
I read James Boyd's review and almost didn't watch this movie. I amglad I decided to watch the movie. James missed a lot of the majorpoints in this movie, betrayal, love, hate, greed, deception. All thesethings are what make a good Drama. I understand that most people nowdays don't want to hear about the way the American Indians facedgenocide, humiliation and reprogramming. It is a part of the history ofthis nation, and movies like this, addressing the past aren't justabout revenge. People can be greedy and cruel, but it takes a real manto own up to his past and do what is right. I believe this movie showsthat courage and honor.User: charlyd72
GREAT movie. Well done, and though names are fictitious, there is theawful truth in the events.
How can it be that we have not recognized the error of our actions, andmade some restitution? The black Americans are calling for restitutionfor the slavery of their ancestors, have we not done worse by theIndians?
Those of us who live near Indian reservations, can on a daily basis,the plight of the Indians, who are still, in this day and age, treatedwith scorn and distaste.
Why, when our neighbor to the north, has recognized the injustice inthe removal of children from their families, and made restitution, andformally apologized for their actions, can we do less.
If you know your history, this story does a great job encompassing theissues of the late 19th- early 20th century. Dramatizing the changes ofthe dying "Wild" frontier to industrialization. The late 19th centurywas a crazy time for the USA. Land expansion, Civil War, SpanishAmerican War and Native American Resettlement. Cowboys were NOT reallyCowboys but more often outliers and Bounty Hunters, flip floppingbetween enforcing government law vs. the laws of the wild west. TheWild west as it was, was winding down. Many people thought they weredoing right, the Missionaries who were coming in in droves to"civilize" thought they were doing right, the Bounty Hunters (Sam andMcCoy) thought they were doing right. People like McCoy really wereLost because they realized they were becoming "Obsolete" (Turned intolegends like Wild Bill being written about in mini-books and SilentMovies).
The ongoing analogy between the Main Characters and VAMPIRES was SOCOOL! Great writing. By focusing on the inner turmoil of those thattruly believed they were doing right, (scene where McCoy kills theIndian Trafficer who felt he was "ENFORCING THE LAW"...and burninghim)...(When Sam throws down his Pinkerton letter) realized they weredoing wrong... were the true Vampires who preyed on innocents...(NativeAmericans)
Eventually, they too would die out from "overhunting" each time losingmore and more of their humanity along the way...the humans they neededto exist were diminishing. Thus these "Men" (or Vampires) eventuallyhad to prey on themselves (final shootout). Who was the real Vampire?Sam or McCoy.(Hmmn, McCoy gave up on his humanity, had a breakdown whenhe saw the movie, he could no longer carry all the evil he inflicted).He felt he had to kill Sam for he believed Sam was the culprit who wassucking the life from him... an Indian.
The true Vampire, or Devil had to die...One HAS to accept who theyare...by killing the demon within (the knife embedded in the body) andrelinquish the lies a person tells himself (Sam attempting to "live asa white man). When Sam beat the knife thru McCoy he regained hishumanity. One must live in peace and honesty in ones own mind andheart. Sam regained his while traveling, and "teaching" the boy to beWhite, eventually noticing the true beauty and innocence of Sally...HisPeople.
This movie BLOWS away AVATAR on so many levels...AVATAR is HYPE, thisstory hits home on so many levels. My family came here 100 years ago.My grandparents forced my parents to speak only English, to "Blend into"Society" or white man's ways...We have done so. My children's historyis not as vivid as mine. We have sacrificed our traditions for thisCountries. We are now Lawyers, and Doctors...I imagine this is thesacrifice our ancestors agreed to make upon coming to this country togive us a better life.
I feel deeply for the Native Americans as Well as the African Americanswho were forced into servitude against their will. This moviedemonstrates with excellent historical accuracy, that people AT THETIME thought they had good intentions, but many were just as cruel asthe other. As time dictates in retrospect, the movie demonstrates howtruly ignorant and intolerant man can be and still is towards oneanother. But if he truly sees himself for what he is...and repelsevil...Man CAN CHANGE. Great historical flick.