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Thursday, January 30, 2014

250 of 1001 Movies: Dances With Wolves (1990)

With a three hour running time Dances With Wolves explores all there is to explore with the characters in the time frame. For a first movie from Costner it's quite an ambitious endeavor. He also can't help but star in whatever movie he is directing even if there was most likely someone better for the role. What makes the story beautiful though is that the stories explored really show the frontier in a way that is beautiful and the Sioux's heritage in a very beautiful light.

Summary: Lietenant Dunbar ends up being exiled to a post after he is mistakenly credited as a hero after trying to commit suicide. Dunbar arrives there and is alone. Though he has the companion of his horse the loneliness eventually begins to get to him. While exploring he happens upon an injured woman, and also begins to get to know a tribe after bringing her back to them. The tribe is hesitant at first as their encounters with white men haven't been good, but Dunbar proves himself to be different, and also a hopeful messenger between the white people and the tribe.


Acting: Kevin Costner stars as John Dunbar, and I think Costner does a good job with the role. He does fit the personality, but his narration is really terrible. If there is a huge weak spot it's just the narration. I kept asking myself if that is the character's thoughts then why is he talking like he is reading them instead? Why not it just sound like he is talking about his life without reading it? I would understand if it was someone who had found the journal and was reading it aloud, but not the actual person who wrote it. Mary McDonnell is the woman he rescues, Stands With A Fist. McDonnell plays the part very well with a bit of vulnerability at first, but then showing why she has the strong name she does. My biggest love of the movie though is how they sought real people who at least have Native American ancestry .  They didn't pick people who have partial or less ancestry to portray the characters, and they show Hollywood that they should be chosen for movies more instead of bigger names to try to sell a movie. Graham Greene was Kicking Bird in the movie, and he becomes a really likable guy, and I loved the portrayal. Rodney A. Grant has a major role as Wind in his Hair, and made the contrast of how he starts off very hesitant very well done.

Filming: Costner seems to have a passion for the frontier. Not just in movies, but in his real life, and I think his love of the prairie translates to on screen. The shots even in the bleakest of moments show the frontier in a light and warm way. You can see why this guy has been so desperate to go and see that part of the country. The movie almost seems to be a love letter to this part of America that is dead now, and just as the characters are getting sad about it's disappearance you can feel that sadness as well toward the topic.

Plot: Each character is developed well, but if you had been given three hours for a movie and couldn't develop your characters I would say I would be concerned. Rarely do any movies get this ambitious with story unless they feel confident they can make it good. The characters that resonated the most though were Kicking Bird and Wind in his Hair. I felt that they offer characters who feel true to the characters they are bringing to life in the movie. Costner works for the role, but I feel there was a guy out there though that would have presented the development of his character better.

The last comment that I couldn't find a place for was one on the clothes. I felt like this movie couldn't drop the 80's clothing. The outfits that Costner were wearing in the movie after he got to know the tribe and was becoming apart of them just felt so not 1800's Western. They looked like outfits I used to see as a young kid during this time period. Even down to the mullet. The vest over the casual button ups though was so distracting. So either Costner was so into this fashion he couldn't drop it, or he inspired the style of the time. I wouldn't know only be two at the time. Otherwise, I enjoyed the movie. I liked the characters and felt it was entertaining.

Rating 8 of 10.


Dances with Wolves (1990) on IMDb

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