Movie: Dances with Wolves
Release Date: November 9, 1990
Director: Kevin Costner
Starring: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene, Rodney Grant
Personal History: Watched Before
Rating: 8.5 Oscars out of 10
‘Dances with Wolves’ was more than just a movie, it was an event. It was a film that everyone seemed to be talking about during its theatrical run and there after. It was the fourth highest-grossing film of 1990. When you look at the top three films of that year, ‘Ghost,’ Home Alone’ and ‘Pretty Woman’ respectively, you can see its impact just by being in that company alone.
The movie is one of my favorites of all time and was included in my 365 Movie Day Challenge back in 2020. Below is an edited version of what I wrote about it over three years ago. You can click here to read the unedited version.
From A Movie a Day Keeps the Doctor Away January 11, 2020:
I saw ‘Dances With Wolves’ in the theater when it was first released in 1990. It wasn’t something that I needed to see, but friends were going so I tagged along. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the film as I wasn’t a huge Kevin Costner fan and it was a Western that ran over three hours long. Westerns by generalization are my least favorite genre of film, if I were to choose one. But as I always say, a good, entertaining story is a good entertaining story no matter the genre.
The movie was well received and eventually won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture. It is credited as an influence for the resurgence of the western genre and was selected for the National Film Registry in 2007. For me, it is an example of how to remain open-minded about art. Even if you are not a fan of something, try it. You may be pleasantly surprised and you just might like it. That is why this film made my list of the most influential movies of my life. I try to keep that open mind at all times when dealing with art and thankfully I am most successful with that type of thinking when it comes to film.
Interestingly enough when I was going to watch this movie today, no one wanted to watch it with me. Everyone I was with said that they had no interest in seeing it, they tried watching it before and didn’t like it, that it was long, that it was boring and finally, “What the hell is that?” (That last comment was my son.) So I watched it alone.
I was still entertained. I hadn’t seen it in many, many years so a lot of the story had been forgotten. It kept my interest and I was still quite moved at the end of the film. The friendship that is established between Lt. John Dunbar and the Sioux, although at first thought enemies, is still quite relevant storytelling for today’s generation. There are some gorgeous and iconic scenes throughout the film and overall it is beautifully shot.
After watching ‘Dances With Wolves,’ I looked across the internet for some general feedback on it. I did find some criticism of the film as far as representation of Native Americans. As a non-Native American, I can’t agree or disagree with that argument. I would love to have a discussion on this topic though, not to be debated, just to observe and see the movie through someone else’s eyes. This is another reason why film is so important. It makes you think, makes you look at things with a different perspective and it forces dialogue on important issues.