Put "Dances With Wolves" at the top of your list of great movies to see. Although there have been many movies about Native Americans released recently, this is far superior to all the others. It is certainly a very powerful and educational film which teaches as well as entertains. Three reasons for the popularity of "Dances With Wolves," in my opinion, are: the dramatic plot, the fascinating characters, and the realistic language and setting.
The exciting plot begins during the time of the Civil War, a period in American history when there were tremendous conflicts between the white men and the Native Americans on the plains. The crude white people came onto the land, senselessly killing anything in their way, whether buffaloes or Indians. The Plains Native Americans did not want to leave the land they loved, but they were forced to or die. In this movie we can see their side of the story. The only weakness is that the film lasts close to three hours. Although it is lengthy, "Dances With Wolves" keeps your attention throughout, especially during the vicious, gory battles between the whites and the Indians.
In addition to these vivid conflicts, the movie is helped by the colorful characters. "Dances With Wolves" stars Kevin Costner, who plays the main character and narrator, Lt. John Dunbar. He is later called "Dances With Wolves" by the Native Americans. Costner is perfect because he acts just like a real white man who lived with the Native Americans. For example, he hunts with them, eats their food, learns their language, and marries a woman from the tribe. The other actors and actresses are also excellent. One is played by a real Native American - Graham Greene as "Kicking Bird."
The third aspect which makes "Dances With Wolves" a real winner is its genuine language and setting. Because they speak in their native tongue, 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 words shows respect for the Indian culture. The backdrop of all of 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. One memorable scene is a field of hundreds of stripped buffalo carcasses. Vivid images of wrinkled faces and bloody battles which stay with you.
Consequently, "Dances With Wolves" is 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. n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.