‘‘Dances With Wolves’’ is a 1990 western film directed, produced by, and starring Kevin Costner who plays the character of John J. Dunbar, a Civil War First Lieutenant on the Union side. It is a film adaptation of the 1988 book of the same name by Michael Blake . With this movie, Costner made his debut as a film director. ‘‘Dances With Wolves’’ scored a total of seven Oscars for best directing, best script, cutting, music and sound effects. Although there are many movies about Native Americans, this is far superior to all the others.
It is certainly a very powerful and educational film which teaches, as well as entertains. The film is successful because it has a dramatic plot, fascinating main character, realistic language and setting. The film tells the story of Lieutenant Dunbar, a United States Army Officer, and an Indian tribe who eventually, after meeting, become friends. The story starts when Dunbar goes to the American frontier to find a military post and while there, he soon finds out he is not alone.
He meets a wolf he dubs ‘‘Two-socks’’ and a curious Indian tribe, the Sioux tribe.
At first, the Indians do not accept him and want nothing to do with him because they do not respect or like white men. Having made contact with these people, Dunbar quickly becomes infatuated with their way of life and begins to adopt their culture, taking on the name Dances with Wolves. As time passes he falls in love with the beautiful ‘‘Stands With a Fist’’, a white woman who was raised amongst the tribe. Dunbar’s ties to his old life are forever severed when he is allowed to marry her.
However, his peaceful existence is threatened when Union soldiers capture him and tries him for treason. He is shipped east, as a prisoner of the army he once served. This triggers a Sioux attack. They ambush the army transport, kill the soldiers, and release Dunbar. He knows that his presence within the Sioux now translates to a further threat to their existence, as the army will be seeking his recapture. Their survival is his primary concern, so he and his wife, Stands with a Fist, leave the tribe to live independently.
Army personnel repeatedly hunt for Dunbar, but never find him. In a striking epilogue, it is revealed that, thirteen years after these incidents, the Sioux Nation had been completely overtaken by the United States, closing the chapter on Native American opposition to America’s conquest of the West. The exciting plot keeps your attention throughout, especially during the vicious battles between the Union Soldiers and Sioux tribe. In addition to these vivid conflicts, the film’s success is helped by the main character that is strongly written and effectively portrayed. Lt.
John Dunbar is a likeable character who symbolizes the ideal representative of the white culture interacting with the Native American people. He acts just like them, eats their food, learns their language, and marries a woman from their tribe. Lieutenant John Dunbar is a dynamic character, changing throughout the film from a United States Army soldier, to a passionate Lakota Sioux member. On his journey, Dunbar takes in many experiences many have only dreamt about. When he rides Cisco out onto the battlefield in a suicide attempt, he has no idea that he indeed will live and will never lead the same life again.
John Dunbar’s changes are reflected in the film in many ways including: mindset, clothing, and his sense of identity. Another aspect which makes “Dances With Wolves” a real winner, from my point of view, is its genuine language and setting. Because they speak in their native dialect, the film uses subtitles some of the time. This makes it seem far more real than other movies where Native Americans speak just like white settlers, which seems phony and insulting. The language is not only interesting to hear, but using their own dialect shows respect for the Indian culture. The backdrop of all this is some fantastic scenery. Dances With Wolves” is superbly filmed in different parts of the country during different seasons. The viewer sees colorful natural scenes that make you feel as if you are right there. Vivid images of wrinkled faces and bloody battles stay with you. One memorable scene is a field of hundreds of stripped buffalo carcasses. The different representation of the Indians is successfully highlighted by the clever use of music, which at times is fast and up-beat, other times changing to show something more serious is going to happens, showing that perhaps everything is not as simple as the viewer first perceives.
In my opinion the music lifted the film above what it might have been without it. Last but not least, the title of the film is very meaningful. To dance with someone is to become one with him. When you dance, you must first ‘‘feel-out’’ the other person. You must get a sense of who the other person is. Then every step flows cautiously into the next. You never want to step on the toes of the other person and with your hands you guide each other in various directions, but always together. The dance is a journey; one that brings two often very different people together.
The film, ‘‘Dances With Wolves’’, accomplishes this aspect. For three hours, it allows us to get caught up in the dance of the white man and the Indians. encounters the Sioux. Attracted by the natural simplicity of their lifestyle, he chooses to leave his former life behind to join them, taking on the name Dances with Wolves. Soon, Dances with Wolves has become a welcome member of the tribe and fallen in love with a white woman who has been raised amongst the tribe. His peaceful existence is threatened, however, when Union soldiers arrive with designs on the Sioux land.
Some detractors have criticized the film’s depiction of the tribes as simplistic; such objections did not dissuade audiences or the Hollywood establishment, however, which awarded the film seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi Kevin Costner’s directorial debut was also a surprisingly popular hit, considering its length, and often somber tone. Over time, the film accumulated some positive and less positive reviews. ’’In 1985, before he was a star, Costner played a featured role in a good Western called “Silverado” simply because he wanted to be in a Western.
Now he has realized his dream again by making one of the best Westerns I’ve seen. ’’ This is what Roger Ebert writes on November 9, 1990 when reviewing the film on his website www. rogerebert. com. Regrettably, ‘‘Dances With Wolves’’ does have some flaws. According to Vincet Canby, in New York Times, ‘‘Dances With Wolves has the makings of a great work, one that recalls a variety of literary antecedents, everything from ‘‘Robinson Crusoe’’ and ‘‘Walden’’ to ‘‘Tarzan of the Apes’’ but ‘‘runs over three hours. Its triumph is that it is never exactly boring, only dulled.
It’s a movie in acute need of sharpening. ’’ ‘‘Dances with Wolves’’’ flaws may be distracting for some people, but in my opinion, there is so much in the movie to like. It is still a wonderful and exciting movie, one of the best. It offers something for everyone: history, violence, friendship, adventure, realism, and beauty. The breathtaking photography of many scenes of rivers, mountains, plains, snowstorms, and wild animals, as well as the Native American way of life, is like looking at a National Geographic magazine. You will find it an intriguing and very worthwhile film with strong conflicts, characters, and setting. It is definitely a ‘‘must see’’ for you and your whole family.
Ebert, Roger. “Dances With Wolves. ’’Rogerebert. 1990. Web. 2 Sept. 2012 Canby,Vincent. “A Soldier at One With the Sioux. ’’Moviesnytimes. 1990. Web. 2 Sept. 2012 encounters the Sioux. Attracted by the natural simplicity of their lifestyle, he chooses to leave his former life behind to join them, taking on the name Dances with Wolves.
Soon, Dances with Wolves has become a welcome member of the tribe and fallen in love with a white woman who has been raised amongst the tribe. His peaceful existence is threatened, however, when Union soldiers arrive with designs on the Sioux land. Some detractors have criticized the film’s depiction of the tribes as simplistic; such objections did not dissuade audiences or the Hollywood establishment, however, which awarded the film seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi
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