Friday, 31 December 2010

Film Review: DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990)

Director: Kevin Costner
Running time: 173 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

UK release date: 8th February 1991

Watched on Sky+ Friday 31st December 2010.


I have only seen this film once before, it was on a commercial station and (with commercials) it was so long they had to split it over two nights. The BBC finally got the rights and we get it over one afternoon (thank you BBC!). The trouble is, because it’s shown in the afternoon, we get a slightly tamed down version, not that I’m complaining. But more of my nonsense later, here’s a very brief summary first (summary haters please wait back at fort Hays while I write the next paragraph).

Having fought and been decorated in the American Civil War, Lt. John Dunbar is offered any posting he would like. He decides to go and see the frontier, in his words, “Before it’s gone.” He gets a posting to Fort Hays where the commander, clearly insane, posts him on to a far-flung outpost, which he finds deserted. Finding himself alone, he is befriended by a lone wolf he calls “Two-Socks”. Eventually he attracts the attention of a tribe of Sioux Indians. After a rather faltering start the two sides slowly learn to trust one another. Dunbar makes friends, including, Kicking Bird and Wind In His Hair who show him the ways of the Plains people. There is also a white woman among the tribe, Stands With a Fist; she was taken in when she lost her family at a very young age. She acts as interpreter and, eventually, she becomes very close to the young Lieutenant. There is a cloud on the horizon, however, Dunbar knows that the white men are coming and this cannot be good for the tribe.

This is an epic film with some tremendous vistas; I would love to have seen it on the big screen. I love the way that Costner made all of the white people in the picture particularly loathsome (with two notable exceptions). Decent performances all round, so honourable mentions go to; Kevin Costner as Lieutenant Dunbar, Mary McDonnell as Stands With A Fist, Graham Greene as Kicking Bird, Rodney A. Grant as Wind In His Hair and Floyd 'Red Crow' Westerman as Ten Bears.

I think you have to be prepared beforehand to watch this film… Three hours is a long time so plenty of refreshments and control of the remote is always good (for bathroom breaks). There is a pretty slow pace to the way the story unveils, but it’s worth sticking with. The final chapter does go on a little and I feel could have been cut slightly. Apart from that, it’s an epic film that is well worth a viewing… Recommended.

My score: 8.3/10

IMDb Page:
Official Site:


Nathanael Hood said...

I personally adored this film.

It gets a LOT of hatred for beating out "Goodfellas" for the Academy Award for Best Picture...but you know what...I...kinda liked this film more.

It was more epic and sweeping. It seemed like the more mature, developed, and wholly conceived film.

That's no slam against Scorsese, of course.

SteelMonster said...

Both fine films... It's a shame they were both up in the same year...