Dances with Wolves – 1990 – English
Film directed in 1990 by Kevin Costner, and starring Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene, Rodney A. Grant, Maury Chaykin, Tantoo Cardinal, Wes Studi, Robert Pastorelli, Floyd ‘Red Crow’ Westerman, Steve Reevis, Charles Rocket…
Synopsis: Lieutenant John Dunbar is considered a hero after he accidentally led Union troops to victory during the Civil War. He applies for a position on the western border, but finds it deserted. He soon discovers that he is not alone, but he meets a wolf he calls “Two Socks” and a curious Indian tribe. Dunbar quickly befriends the tribe and discovers a white woman who was raised by the Indians. He gradually gains the respect of these natives and gets rid of their white male customs.
Review: Many people regard a lot of films as “top class” but I always keep a little shelf in my mind for the films that I regard as the best films of all time – films that are simply timeless masterpieces. Welcome to the top of that shelf! There are certain criteria by which films are judged and greatness is only obtained when all the criteria are satisfied in full. Dances with Wolves is the greatest timeless masterpiece of cinema to date because it satisfies all these criteria:
- Cinematography: the sweeping landscape photography of the Frontier combined with the subtle night-time photography earns top marks. Aside from Oscars for Cinematography and editing, it also won the ASC award for Outstanding achievement in Cinematography – as well as a host of other industry recognition awards. In short – the cinematography is breathtaking.
- Sound/Score: the score is one of the best ever written. Again, awards rained from the sky for magical and moving score that combined seamlessly with the film/story.
- Screenplay: The dialogue and plot is magnificent. The film does not fall into the common plot formulas found in other films that attempt to pass themselves off as epics. The story combines as both of celebration of life and a somber rumination of the history of mankind. There are comical moments, dramatic moments and tear-jerking moments – that all make their entry (and exit) into the story with flawless timing.
- The Acting: for all that has been said about Kevin Costner, this was the peak of his career and he played the role of John Dunbar to perfection. A relatively unknown band of actors gave magnificent, heart-felt and down-to-earth performances in support. It was actually refreshing to see an “EPIC” where the producers didn’t feel the need to throw famous actors in with cameo roles to improve it marketability. As far as I was concerned, there were no weak links in the chain on the acting side of things. Kevin Costner certainly proved his worthiness as a director by getting the best out of the cast.
- The ONLY film in history to…. Have an extended (director’s cut) version that was better than the original. Due to concerns about the length of the film, Dances with Wolves was stripped back to three hours. Some complained that it was still too long, but I thought that the film was patient – it included good relevant detail but managed to keep the story moving at a good pace. The director’s cut added an hour to the cinematic release and was, without a doubt, better than the original. It somehow added more intrigue to the story and included many sobering insights into the destruction of the American Indian race.
Over all, I regard it as the greatest most masterful epic of all time.