Film and Food

Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy

Best Picture – Dances With Wolves (1990)

Dances with wolves

Starring Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell & Graham Greene

Rating 10/10

Beautiful, historical, watchable, soulful, this film is a true Best Picture winner. It’s not often you get a great story with brilliant storytelling skills, especially from a first time director. With minimal dialogue, Director, Kevin Costner and the gang used music, images and space in such a simple way… it was breathtakingly beautiful.

It begins in 1863 when the American Civil War is raging. Injured First Lieutenant John Dunbar (Costner) escapes the incompetent field surgery, choosing his own fate. He ends up doing something brave and, in return, he is offered any post he likes. He chooses to go West and ends up at the abandoned Fort Sedgwick.

In this lonely land, his only friends are his horse and a slightly wild wolf that visits him every day. Soon he encounters a Sioux tribe and decides to befriend them. He finds a Sioux woman, Stands With A Fist (McDonnell), bleeding and returns her to her tribe. Friendship is soon established with Kicking Bird (Greene). It is revealed that Stands With A Fist is actually a white woman who was rescued after her family was attacked by the Pawnee when she was a kid.

Then there’s buffalo, battles, gross stuff, love and snow. The plot rocks so I won’t ruin it for you if you haven’t seen this masterpiece.

Monotonal Costner was born to play this part. He’s a much better actor when he’s not talking so this was a perfect role for him. McDonnell gave a convincing performance as the Sioux convert. Her translation of Sioux into English was convincing and that hair! Don’t get me started on the hair.

The stars would have to be the Native American actors in the beautiful Sioux community. None of the performances were awkward or forced. It just seemed real. Grahame Greene, Rodney A. Grant and Nathan Lee Chasing His Horse (and of course many others) portrayed a noble peaceful people, threatened by the influx of white people. In comparison, caucasian people appeared rough and cold hearted, blood thirsty and ignorant.

I cannot rave enough about this film. Though it is long, it is so watchable. I can’t wait to see the 4 hour version. It is disturbing but not devastating. It is soulful but not sappy. It is minimalist but not boring. It harks back to the Gone With the Wind films without the melodrama.

It is simply a masterpiece and if you haven’t seen it yet, shame on you!

Dances With Wolves Trivia:

  • Budget – $22 million (worth every cent I tell ya!)
  • It took only 4 months to film but they experienced delays due to unpredictable weather in South Dakota
  • The buffalo scene had not CGI. There were very few animatronics. Most were real buffalo, during a real stampede.
  • Costner was thrown off his horse during the stampede and almost broke his back
  • The Sioux language has male/female gendered and the Sioux expert on the set was a woman, which meant that Costner was speaking female Sioux instead of male.
  • Water was brought in to fill up the pond as there was a drought on the Fort Sedgwick location
  • One of the wolves actually bit the trainer in the scene where Two Socks is being told to go home. When Costner is running away from him, he had to throw meat to the animal to keep him from nipping him too.
  • The buffalo in the charging scene was actually running towards a pile of his favourite snack, Oreo Cookies. Go figure!
  • With the film over budget, Costner had to kick in $3 million of his own money. But the film was so successful, he earned $40 million in return. A sound investment indeed.
  • Costner’s 6 year old daughter plays the young Stands With a Fist
  • McDonnell asked for the love scenes to be tamed down, as she wasn’t comfortable making tha lurve as explicitly as the script suggested

Now we must leave the wild west behind and head into another kinda wild. Next time we’re watching… gulp… hide behind hands… The Silence of the Lambs! Nightmare stuff. See you then.


One comment on “Best Picture – Dances With Wolves (1990)

  1. Pingback: Academy Awards- Best Pictures 1927-2009 | Guide to be a winner

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