Thursday, Jun 2024
Director: Kevin Costner
Screenwriters: Michael Blake from his novel
Length: 183 minutes
Released: 1990

dances with wolves posterBeautifully filmed and dedicated to authentically reproducing the period, Dances With Wolves is an outstanding movie. Breathtaking shots of the prairie and South Dakota capture the scope of the West. And extraordinary detail delivers a feel for the time. The film is the story of the death of Lt. Dunbar (Kevin Costner) and his rebirth as Dances With Wolves, a Sioux Indian. During the good lieutenant's journey toward self-actualization, much commentary is made about whites and their culture. Prior to the arrival of whites, the Sioux lived in an Eden (excepting Pawnee raids). With the whites came litter and waste. At times during the movie, the viewer is made to feel that they are watching the 1960's public service commercial with the old Indian crying at the side of a polluted creek. The critique of white culture doesn stop at their sanitary habits. They are generally portrayed as a greedy, unthinking people with no regard for the inhabitants of the land that they are spoiling. Conversely, the Sioux are a considerate and loving people with dignity and healthy humility. Even the fierce warrior, Wind in His Hair (Rodney Grant), understands and discusses his shortcomings. He reveals to Lt. Dunbar that anger is his first reaction to most adverse situations. He understands that he is a bit of a hothead and is working on improving...

Movie goers would need to return to the late 1960's early 1970's to find movies that portrayal Indians in such a positive light (Hombre 1969). In a way, Dances With Wolves completes the journey begun by Cecil B. DeMille's Squaw Man (~1914), where the Hollywood Indian began as a subhuman beast. In Dances With Wolves, it is the white man who behaves in a subhuman way.

On an emotional level, Dances With Wolves is successful in binding the viewer to its characters (be they man or beast). Later in the movie, those ties are exploited as some of the beloved are killed (slowly). The soundtrack accentuates the drama and makes for a seamless viewing experience.


  • Kevin Costner .... Lieutenant Dunbar/Dances with Wolves
  • Mary McDonnell....Stands With a Fist
  • Graham Greene.... Kicking Bird
  • Rodney A. Grant.... Wind in His Hair
  • Floyd 'Red Crow' Westerman....Ten Bears
  • Tantoo Cardinal.... Black Shawl
  • Robert Pastorelli....Timmons
  • Charles Rocket.... Lieutenant Elgin
  • Maury Chaykin.... Major Fambrough
  • Jimmy Herman.... Stone Calf
  • Nathan Lee Chasing Horse.... Smiles A Lot
  • Michael Spears....Otter
  • Jason R. Lone Hill.... Worm
  • Tony Pierce.... Spivey
  • Doris Leader Charge.... Pretty Shield
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