DIRECTOR: MICHAEL APTED
COUNTRY: USA (1992)
CAST: Val Kilmer, Sam Sheppard, Graham Greene, Fred Ward, Fred Dalton Thompson, Chief Ted Thin Elk,Sheila Tousey.
SUPER FEATURES: Superb Story based on various incidents on Indian Reservations in the 70's.
PRODUCERS: ROBERT DENIRO, JOHN FUSCO, JAMES ROSENTHAL
MUSIC: JAMES HORNER
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: ROGER DEAKINS
WRITTEN BY: JOHN FUSCO
I am so very glad that films of this kind are being made. And for once, the good guys are in a position to win, and will win. And finally, it is nice to see that a few people who have gained much from the film resources are finally putting some of their money into pieces that really count. If actor Robert De Niro produces stuff like this in exchange for the over rated Godfather roles, then he has provided both himself and his country a chance to redeem itself from elements in corruption, which Hollywood itself is famous for.
The story centers around an FBI agent sent in to help close a murder case which supposedly is setting Native Americans at war with themselves, only to find in the end that the real enemy are the those who stand to gain from the discoveries of valuable mineral ore, and the money they will make from it. And their lack of regard for the Indians is as acute as their desire to gain a financial reward for their services in a scheme to wipe out all the Indians that get in the way and resist the changes for the future. To accomplish this, another FBI agent has already been on the case, and he is the culprit that is leading the case (Sam Sheppard) with the help of a few land owners who wish to buy (or steal) from the Indian lands, whose rights they own. There is a murder rap on one Indian, and he is chased until he is found, or ensnared into his final trap. The question still remains if he will be able to be let go off his charges, given that he was set up. The other agent is reassigned, which suggests that the whole thing is not finished, and probably will not be, until the federal government admits it is playing hokey with the Indians, and has done much to foster the image that the Indians are still playing the role of outlaw in the land.
The FBI's attempt to set a quick fix, is to send an agent who has past affiliations with Indians. The new agent (Kilmer) is a descendent of a group of Indians that was killed around the time when the federals were doing a complete housecleaning of all Indians. The film suggests that Kilmer is the spirit of THUNDERHAWK, one of the courageous fighting Indians who was murdered for his actions. The new agent has little trouble connecting with the Indians, and strikes up a partnership with one Indian (Graham Greene) whose abilities go beyond those of a chief and medicine man. He is intuitive enough to do his police duties without having to use the likes of radar and any other equipment ... while teasing the young man into getting in touch with his past, and help find a way to resolve the whole conflict, which is done as the group of corrupters themselves finally get trapped into a canyon and admit that they are at fault.
In between moments in this film are a few scenes about shape shifting and the dream world which can be confusing to work with if one is not prepared to work with them. And the film is very faithful to making sure that all these ways and abilities are clear, and well preserved, and that they can also survive in a modern space, used in a different manner. The character that Graham Greene plays is one such example, of the blend of the intuitive side and a modern day person. While having to keep his humor and ways, he still has time for a little ornery behavior, which in a way is justified since he knows what is going on, and himself is a medicine man.
There are similarities between this story and that of Mr. Banks who was incarcerated in the Dakotas for the same type of reasons. And whether this is the true story or not, is not for me to say, although I tend to believe that the Indian in his modern day despair of loss of language and character has much less to gain from lying, than he does from being honest and truthful to his nature. I am of the opinion that most of them are honest and truthful, but leave room for the few who aren't. History has been more in favor of those who have taken from the Indians than otherwise. This film reverses the trend and deserves much credit for its approach, although the width of its fame and reach has been quite limited.
The sad part of this film is that the real victims are the innocent ones who know the whole thing because they have the intuition to see it. They get clearly wiped out by a group of modern day outlaws, who no doubt believe they are right, and probably have a good reason to do so.
A MUST SEE FILM.
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