Dances With Wolves

"Extraordinary"

Dances With Wolves Review


Upon the release of the four-hour Dances with Wolves, the question naturally arises: Why?

That's not me, talking, that's producers Kevin Costner and Jim Wilson, writing in the promo material for the multi-disc DVD release of their watershed film about a man who goes a little native after the end of the Civil War. Sent on a questionable "mission" by an insane major (Maury Chaykin), John Dunbar (Costner) finds himself alone in a remote outpost on the frontier, where the Sioux still rule. Already a little suicidal (having surivived his last Civil War battle by openly goading the Confederate army -- twice), Dubar's right at home amid the fear of being scalped, buffalo stampedes, and of course the threat posed by the white man when it's found he's befriended the Indians.

Notable among them is Mary McDonnell's "Stands with a Fist", a white woman captured as a young girl and now fully "one of them." It's through her rough English skills that Dunbar becomes "Dances with Wolves," on account of his friendship with a scraggly mutt that inhabits his camp. When not fighting off the Pawnee, Dances and Stands become friends and eventually lovers. And then there's the nagging issue of Dunbar going AWOL from his post

The 1990 Wolves marked the beginning of the impressive revival of the western, one which would last until 1992's Unforgiven. Both films would win Best Picture and inspire a disastrous teen-ification of the genre with movies like American Outlaws. The story is compelling, Costner's performance is top-notch, and his direction is impressive. But what's most notable is that this cowboys and Indians flick doesn't demonize the Indians. Here, Dunbar makes the cautious steps toward peace a show-stopper, and even though Dances with Wolves has its share of bow-and-arrow battles and buffalo hunts, it's the peacetime tale that is ultimately the most memorable part of the film. (Not to mention, the movie has one of cinema's great, memorable lines from Chaykin: "Sir knight? I've just pissed in my pants... and nobody can do anything about it!")

Wolves is not without its lingering problems. The "romance" is on the mild side and difficult to relate to. Costner's voice-over is stilted, sounding like he's reading from the back of a bag of frozen brocolli. And John Barry's Oscar-winning score is appropriately grand, but without even checking I could tell it was lifted wholesale from the brassy baritones he used in, of all places, A View to a Kill.

Now about that four-hour business... The new cut of the film comprises two sides of a DVD, with a second disc containing extras. The extra scenes blend in seamlessly -- it's hard to know exactly where they fall; I haven't seen this film in a decade, after all. Two commentary tracks (one from Wilson and Costner, one from the editor and the D.P.) are so-so but a little stale; I know I'd run out of things to say after four hours. Better to flip to the second disc, where a retrospective documentary says the same things in a fraction of the time.



Dances With Wolves

Facts and Figures

Run time: 181 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 21st November 1990

Box Office Worldwide: $424.2M

Budget: $22M

Distributed by: Orion Pictures

Production compaines: Orion Pictures, Tig Productions, Majestic Films International

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 51 Rotten: 12

IMDB: 8.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Lieutenant John Dunbar, as Stands With A Fist, as Kicking Bird, Rodney A. Grant as Wind In His Hair, Floyd Red Crow Westerman as Ten Bears, as Black Shawl, as Timmons, as Lieutenant Elgin, as Major Fambrough, Jimmy Herman as Stone Calf, Nathan Lee Chasing His Horse as Smiles A Lot, Michael Spears as Otter, Jason R. Lone Hill as Worm, Tony Pierce as Spivey, Doris Leader Charge as Pretty Shield, as Sergeant Pepper, as Sergeant Bauer, as Edwards, Wayne Grace as Major, Donald Hotton as General Tide, as Christine, Elisa Daniel as Christine's Mother

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.