Dances With Wolves From the Thesis

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Dunbar is presented as a man that loves life and all the good things about it. He expresses a sentiment of extreme pride when he prefers to die rather than have his leg amputated. Most people have returned to their homes after the war with the desire to have a normal life and a well-paid job. Dunbar, in contrast, chooses to remain in the military to protect an abandoned U.S. garrison on the western frontier. Total isolation does not seem strange to Dunbar and he immediately adapts to life in solitude, interacting only with Cisco, his horse, and Two Socks, his wolf. The Indians name him Dances with Wolves because he frequently plays with Two Socks.

In spite of wanting to make a typical Western, Costner has added some special touches to the script which changed some patterns that normal Westerns had followed. Most early Hollywood Westerns pictured Indians as savages that attacked white settlers. Indians were considered to be against civilization and against all that was perceived to be good. The Sioux tribe in Costner's movie breaks away from the standard image of savage Indians and they prove to be a highly cultured race. The fact that Costner had his actors speaking the Lakota language, instead of bad English as Indians from other Westerns did, also contributes in making the natives seem more intelligent.

Instead of bringing civilization in the west and being a supporter of the Manifest Destiny, Costner ended up joining the Sioux tribe. He did so because he learnt that civilization was in fact perverted, while Indians were authentic free people at peace with the world.

The director manages to transform the west in a fairy-tale land where nature is thriving without any intervention from the white people.
The fact that Indians speak Lakota and Pawnee adds a drop of reality to the story and the audience is virtually taken away from their initial picture of a movie from the Western genre.

Costner improved the picture of the standard Indian shown in Westerns, but he did not manage to finish his job. While Costner's Indians are shown to possess a great amount of intelligence and great organizational skills, they do not express any kind of feelings. Most of the time they are numb and the only member of the tribe that forms a closer relationship with Dunbar is Stand With a Fist, who is also white.

Dunbar and Stand With a Fist's relationship even makes matters worse because they are superior to the other characters through the fact that they express their love. Indians are mostly expressionless and they do everything that is typical for a normal Indian to do.

Costner's success is owed to the fact that he made a natural movie, with little Hollywood cliches in it. The audience is captivated by the impressive acting and each scene brings more tension to its viewers. Even if Costner did not have previous experience in directing, Dances with Wolves truly is an interesting and successful movie.

After having seen the movie, one is sure to have changed some opinions regarding Westerns that involved Indians. Dances with Wolves takes its viewers further by bringing them in the very heart of a Sioux tribe. Moreover, the film does not support civilization and the Manifest Destiny. White soldiers are presented as ruthless men that only want to exploit the Native-American lands and to destroy the American-Indian culture.

Works cited:

Dances with Wolves. Dir. Kevin Costner. Orion Pictures, 1990......

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