Dances with Wolves

Dances with Wolves

Kevin Costner (1990)

173min
12 Certificate
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Review

Our Score
Kevin Costner's directorial debut, the first western to win the best picture Oscar for 60 years, is a heartfelt attempt to create a frontier epic and to atone for Hollywood's shameful depiction of native American life. Costner himself plays the depressed, battle weary Union officer John Dunbar, a Civil War hero who, given the choice, opts for a remote posting in South Dakota to see the frontier before it disappears. After befriending the Sioux Indians he decides to join them, and marries Stands with a Fist (Mary McDonnell), a white woman also adopted by the tribe. Although the film is three hours long, Costner directs his pet project with a clear passion for the subject, and in so doing proves that epic westerns can still work if their heart is in the right place, the characters are real, and the cinematography is stunning - take a bow Dean Semler, another deserving winner of one of the seven Oscars awarded to Costner and co. Costner demythologises the westerns made by such directors as John Ford (for instance, much of the dialogue is in the Lakota Sioux language) to re-create the genre and present a wistful and poignant look at a way of life and a people that have all but disappeared. Admirably supported by fellow Oscar nominees Graham Greene, as Kicking Bird, and the brilliant McDonnell, Costner gives Dunbar an essential decency with which viewers cannot fail to empathise, right up until the moving climax. This is a marvel from beginning to end.

Summary

A Union army officer during the American Civil War requests a posting to a remote outpost on the frontier. Left to man a deserted fort single-handedly, he is gradually adopted into a local Sioux tribe - but they are endangered when his former comrades come looking for him. Oscar-winning Western, directed by and starring Kevin Costner. With Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene, Rodney A Grant and Floyd Red Crow Westerman.

Cast & Crew

Lieutenant John Dunbar / Dances with Wolves Kevin Costner
Stands with a Fist Mary McDonnell
Kicking Bird Graham Greene (2)
Wind in his Hair Rodney A Grant
Chief Ten Bears Floyd Red Crow Westerman
Black Shawl Tantoo Cardinal
Timmons Robert Pastorelli
Lieutenant Elgin Charles Rocket
Major Fambrough Maury Chaykin
Stone Calf Jimmy Herman
Smiles a Lot Nathan Lee Chasing His Horse
Otter Michael Spears
Worm Jason R Lone Hill
Spivey Tony Pierce
Pretty Shield Doris Leader Charge
Sergeant Pepper Tom Everett
Sergeant Bauer Larry Joshua
Edwards Kirk Baltz
Major Wayne Grace
General Tide Donald Hotton
Christine Annie Costner
Willie Conor Duffy
Christine's mother Elisa Daniel
Director Kevin Costner
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Other Information

Language: English, Sioux +subtitlesColourTheatrical distributor: Guild Film Distribution LtdGuidance: Violence, language, sex scenes.Available on: video, DVD and Blu-ray
Drama