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

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

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.