peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2010 01 29 DancesWithWolves

Dances With Wolves

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This movie was huge when I was a kid, the Titanic or Avatar of its day. I'd put off seeing it as Costner is an all-American clown, and Waterworld made his name mud. (I'm going on inuendo here, I haven't seen any of these movies.)

To my surprise this overly-long-but-not-long-enough epic didn't drag. The narrative arc was too predictable — I knew the wolf was going to get it from the get-go — but the cinematography and editing redeemed this a lot. They make the prairie look both alluring and adversarial, justifying the bonding and xenophobia of the native American tribes and the way Costner develops a relationship with them. The score was more intrusive than I expected.

Even so, Costner is a ham actor. He overplays the American pioneer self-stereotype: the rugged individual worthy of respect who everyone truly respects, and gushes respect at everyone and everything around him. There is simply too little contention after he is initiated into the tribe for it to be any more realistic. I was hoping they would explore the politics between the native tribes, the local economies and also the civil war itself. Why was the soldier's fort where it was? — after the initial suicide-run the confederacy is MIA.

Worth a look. The frontier is a grand American myth.