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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 20.51%
Average: 10.26%
Pretty Bad: 6.41%
Total Crap: 8.97%

2 reviews, 66 user ratings

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Dances With Wolves
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by Slyder

"Costner’s Finest Moment"
5 stars

Say what you want about Kevin Costner today but be honest and admit that you loved this movie back then too. Sure, nowadays he’s a fucking hack, and I really hate him from wasting my time now and then, but I respect Costner for his earlier works, and admire him for films like Bull Durham, Field Of Dreams, The Untouchables, JFK, among others, and last but not least, this little gem, which arguably is his masterpiece. One of the best films ever made, Costner’s directorial debut is outstanding, along with its awesome cinematography, solid script, strong performances and a careful eye for detail, and it deservingly beat out heavy favorite Goodfellas for Best Picture Oscar. Anyone who dismisses this film as rubbish or just as “another one of Costner’s ego-inflated floperoos” is either a cynic, a racist, or is biased in his anti-Costner diatribe or is brain-dead.

During the final stages of the Civil War, Lieutenant John J. Dunbar (Costner) from the Union Army tries to kill himself riding off into the Southern Army enemy lines (The reason being that he’d rather die than loosing his leg through amputation), but unintentionally he manages to distract the Southern Army enough for the Union Army to charge and defeat them on the spot. So unintentionally, Dunbar becomes a hero, and after his recovery, he’s allowed to be transferred into any post he would like. Dunbar decides to be transferred into any Fort that is near the “Indian Frontier” since it’s his wish to see it before its gone and overtaken by white civilization. He’s then transferred to Fort Sedgewick, in South Dakota, which is the furthest outpost of the realm, only to find that the Fort is completely deserted. He then decides to stay anyways and wait for the arrival or word of the Commander there. While he’s waiting, alone, he immediately makes friends at first with Mother Nature in the form of a wolf he calls Two Socks, as well as with his loyal horse Cisco. But soon, imminent contact with the local Sioux Indians begin to take place, among them his meeting with Sioux holy man Kicking Bird (Graham Greene), Indian woman with a “white past” Stands With A Fist (Mary McDonnell) whom Dunbar would later fall in love with, fierce warrior Wind In His Hair (Rodney A. Grant), and ultimately the Chief of the Sioux village Ten Bears (Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman). At first Dunbar is defiant (Indians stealing his horse), but then he decides to take the risk and try to convene with them, at first only for negotiation purposes, but then he soon realizes that the Sioux want more from him, they want to know more about the white people, since it seems they’re coming to stay. While this unfolds, Dunbar soon is immersed with the huge traditions of the Sioux culture, and soon begins to realize within himself how wrongly stereotyped the Indians have been and how wrong his views were about himself and his world around him.

This film is so impressive I can’t find any words to describe it. The cinematography by Dean Semler is marvelous in depicting the glorious South Dakota landscape, and also sets the tone of the film. Many people have criticized this film for being boring, slow and uninteresting. Boring in what sense? Isn’t a subject of Indian tribe depiction an interesting subject? Especially the way the Indians have been treated over the years. The film’s pace is deliberately slow yes, but it’s never boring, besides it takes that approach so it can appropriately develop it’s story, and it does excellently, with every element falling into place, we never miss any single detail. Neil Travis’s editing is crucial since it gives us a very concise product and no scene is there without a point. Dunbar’s gradual transformation from white soldier to an Sioux Indian is quite something to admire and brings out some interesting points that target our ways of life and our views towards other races, the Indian cultures included. It asks you a striking question of who is more savage, the White man or the Indian man? Sure, Dunbar’s last encounter at final act of the movie with the Union Soldiers seems somewhat stereotyped, but that’s the whole point, to see how stereotyped our views of Native Americans are and how do we feel when we are at the other side of the coin. Now you know how Native Americans feel when racists everywhere bash them. Thus, this helps the film towards its shattering climax and to give out its message more strongly. Many people may find a few plot components somewhat coincidental, while others find his marriage with Stands With A Fist completely unconvincing, since he didn’t marry an Indian woman. Well, that’s the whole point of the movie, Einstein. The character of Stands With a Fist is extremely important to the story since it forms a bridge between the White Culture and the Native American Culture. Without it, the story would fail to keep developing and keep us bringing us deeper into the Sioux culture. It’s a “what if” type of character, but a very important one. Like critic Roger Ebert points out: Dances With Wolves is a sentimental fantasy, a "what if" movie that imagines a world in which whites were genuinely interested in learning about a Native American culture that lived more closely in harmony with the natural world than any other before or since. But our knowledge of how things turned out - of how the Indians were driven from their lands by genocide and theft - casts a sad shadow over everything. How true this remark is. You see them hunt for Buffalos to supply themselves in the winter, celebrate their rituals at night, fight off the rival Pawnee Indian tribe not for politics or whatever kind of shit, but to preserve their food supplies and defend the many women and children living in that Sioux village, and smoking weed not for getting high or whatever, but as a ritual “salute” between one another amongst other traditions. These are things that the average man’s ignorance would never understand unless they placed some interest to it and Costner did just that. It was really a wise move for Costner to let Michael Blake write the screenplay based on his own novel. I am not personally a fan of someone who adapts somebody else’s work since they at times tend to leave out many important things in the novel that would’ve helped the screenplay more and to the extreme, even miss the point of the original novel. I prefer the people that adapt their own books simply because they know the material better than anyone else and would know how to choose better the most important things out of the book. That is one of the reasons I admire many novelist-screenwriters like Stephen King, John Irving, Arthur Miller and James Dickey to name a few. Blake’s Oscar was well deserved. Many people have said that this movie is a western, well, technically it isn’t, since it breaks out the many traditions that the traditional westerns tend to have on the subject (Cowboys and Indians). You can call it a revisionist western, but I rather fit it on the adventure/drama genre.

One of the most interesting things in the technical aspect of the movie is of course Dean Semler’s cinematography and Costner’s direction, which makes this film work on it’s path, and along the way there are some impressive standouts. Costner’s insistence on historical accuracy in the costumes and makeup of the Indians, the extremely wise move of casting Native American actors and letting them speak their own language rather than have them speak English, the aforementioned glorious landscapes (one of the reasons why it’s necessary to watch this film on wide screen), and of course the famous buffalo hunt scene, which is the films best and most remembered moment, beautifully shot and orchestrated and also a pivotal plot component in Costner’s transformation from White man to a Sioux Indian. Another eerie standout is that at times, the film plays more like a documentary rather than a film, and the scene where preparations are being made for the buffalo hunt give the strongest impression of it, and it helps the film, it helps it a lot. Praise for Costner and his cinematographer Semler for their work here, as well as everyone in the production design crew.

The performances are fantastic. Costner gives out probably the strongest performance of his career, and I praise him for it. Sure there are a few signs of blandness, but his own characteristics and body language fit his character very well. Mary McDonnell is exceptionally well casted as Stands With a Fist and her character is well on the spot. Graham Green, Rodney A. Grant and Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman automatically fill their roles like gloves and not one of their performances is wasted since they, as well as the rest of the Indians are pretty much the real stars of the movie, while Costner’s Dunbar is our guide.

In the end, this film is highly recommendable. It hit me in the face hard when I saw it for the first time and has never failed to impress me the many times I’ve watched it over the years. Costner nowadays is a hack and I feel sorry for him now thanks to his over-inflated ego, but in the end I don’t give a shit. I paid to see him in this movie and he delivered, perhaps more than any of his other films. I will always respect him for this film, which is truly a milestone in modern American Cinema. See it!!!

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originally posted: 12/16/02 14:52:43
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell very good imho 4 stars
9/03/17 FireWithFire Read about THE REAL Sioux indians. Kevin Costner must apologize 1 stars
2/19/15 master yoda so damn long 1 stars
7/21/12 Sean Harrison Great movie, but watch it from the beginning 5 stars
1/23/12 action movie fan long tedious and boring soldier blue was far better 2 stars
7/07/11 millersxing Costner, the Kanye West of westerns, "we all self-conscious, I'm just the 1st to admit it" 5 stars
9/24/10 Dr.Lao Typical Costner ego trip (sorry Slyder, but this film is just plain pretentious crap) 2 stars
10/15/09 deserae richardson besides the souix, what other tribes are in this movie? 4 stars
8/16/09 Dr. Q For those with a good heart, and good sense, the best movie of all time. 5 stars
7/22/09 Abhishek Chakraborty's ok 3 stars
12/06/08 Michelle Great thanks for reminding people of our American Heritage 5 stars
8/28/08 Shaun Wallner This movie has some great scenes in it. 5 stars
3/07/08 ben dover amazing.a poor mans grizzly adams-what a cunt 5 stars
10/24/07 Ivana Mann Mary McDonnell is the funniest "Indian" since Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles. 1 stars
6/26/07 mb Good story. One sided though. Almost all white men but one are evil. 4 stars
2/18/07 Sugarfoot A great movie sure, but over Goodfellas! 4 stars
12/07/06 bradley e lavallee(esquire) awsome,terriffic,awsome 5 stars
7/13/06 EZ All white people are savages, aren't they?? 3 stars
7/11/06 Gideon did dunbar take part in little big horn? 4 stars
12/23/05 cody a great movie with good acting and even great perf. by kevin costner, academy awards 7 5 stars
10/07/05 Klondo Better than the book. Haven't read the book. Won't. The sequel isn't very good. 5 stars
8/26/05 D Buckley Back when Costner had balls 5 stars
7/06/05 Pinkline Jones A poor man's Grizzly Adams 3 stars
11/08/04 tina johnson GREAT acculturation and assimilation of culture conversion or abandonment 4 stars
11/01/04 Charles S. Lewis tc don't have a clue what your talking about!! 5 stars
10/23/04 ODH Good storyline, a bit too long and does drag a bit 3 stars
10/15/04 Pete A little boring... 3 stars
8/17/04 Richard Eyles My favourite film of all time. 5 stars
8/03/04 valeria Beautiful 4 stars
5/02/04 martin Another example of Hollywood stereotyping and misrepresenting the Native American culture 1 stars
12/10/03 Desperado Anyone who has the audacity to rip this movie is a dipshit. One of the best of our time. 5 stars
11/29/03 john Costner finds love and respect for life on the plains - beautifully crafted film 4 stars
11/15/03 chris excellent movie 5 stars
10/06/03 DM Beautiful and well-acted, but boring at points 4 stars
9/29/03 Kyle Sorry everybody, but I think this movie sucked the bag. 1 stars
9/03/03 marion micheal morrison little sister, I was born game and I intend to go out that way. 3 stars
8/17/03 robbie keane shit 1 stars
3/14/03 Christy I think the film was an eye-opener that what the wt. men did to the indians was terrrible 5 stars
3/08/03 Jack Sommersby Pandering-down-to historical drama is nontheless entertaining. 3 stars
10/22/02 Charles Tatum Good, but a ripoff of "A Man Called Horse" 4 stars
10/04/02 Amber Great movie, good info! 5 stars
9/07/02 Ramblin Wreck Great movie........though I ususally dislike "Revisionist Westerns" 5 stars
7/12/02 KMG BEAUTIFUL. The first film I saw that respected Indians. 5 stars
4/28/02 Sam Almost makes me wish I were Sioux 5 stars
3/25/02 joe joe i liked it 4 stars
3/17/02 FlaFan Richly deserved all the Oscars it won 5 stars
1/07/02 Andrew Carden Really Good Movie, It'd Be Awesome If It Was Cut Down 30 Minutes. 4 stars
12/04/01 Shams Huque Beautiful film. 5 stars
10/31/01 Sumixam Superb! Very entertaining. 5 stars
8/31/01 spaceworm What? No "sucks all ass" on this meadow muffin? Allow me... 1 stars
7/28/01 Henry Ginsberg great plot 5 stars
6/21/01 Dave another movie that will go down as an all time classic 5 stars
6/05/01 Just like a Wop . . . Revisionist how? There weren't Indians in the American West? 5 stars
5/20/01 R.W. Welch Revisionist western, rambles on a bit but has some interesting insights. 4 stars
2/16/01 James Excellent and actually very well balanced drama. A must see 5 stars
1/14/01 Avenger Girl This movie is a waste of film and effort, long and boring to no aim whatso ever. 2 stars
11/13/00 The EVIL Penguin too long and very slow 2 stars
11/03/00 Cristopher Revilla One of 1991's best films, and possibly Kevin Costner's finest moment 5 stars
4/04/00 yankee great movie. The end is vague but the buffalo hunts are wonderful 5 stars
3/25/00 Richard Wright Maybe this film is another of Costner's wet dreams,but drama and action-wise it's sound. 4 stars
1/24/00 Gustaf The best movie ever made. 5 stars
1/10/00 John Markham Costner is a complete void on screen, very long and very dull. 2 stars
7/07/99 Ben Leostein Rating: **** (out of ****) Category: "Excellent" 5 stars
6/14/99 Dylan A bit corny but a decent enough flick. 3 stars
6/09/99 lucas jackson I thought this movie was good compared to most of Kevin costners shiity films 4 stars
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  09-Nov-1990 (PG-13)
  DVD: 25-May-2004

  02-Feb-1991 (15)

  14-Feb-1991 (M)

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