Monday, 6 January 2014

Dances With Wolves

Dances With Wolves, 1990
Directed by Kevin Costner
Nominated for 12 Oscars, Won 7
Wins Include: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score.

Dances With Wolves takes place in Civil War America. Lt. John Dunbar becomes an accidental hero when, choosing suicide over leg amputation, rides his horse up the Confederate Front line, which distracts them and leads the Union Army to winning battle. Dunbar survives, is allowed to keep his leg (which indeed recovers properly) and is given his choice of posting. He requests the Western Frontier so he can see it "before it disappears". He is sent to Fort Sedgewick, but finds it abandoned and in bad shape. While devouting himself to fixing it so he can prepare for the troops to be stationed there, he discovers a tribe of Sioux Indians not far away, as well as a lonely but timid wolf who stays nearby. He quickly becomes friends with the Indian tribe and finds himself getting drawn farther and farther into its lifestyle and culture, while possibly falling in love with the white woman (who was taken in by the tribe as a young girl) who is his only link to communicating with the tribe.

I have never really heard wonderful things about Dances With Wolves. Reading the back of the DVD, it sounded extremely similar to dozens of other movies including Pocahontas and Avatar (among others). I was always disappointed to see it was three hours long, and didn't look overly interesting. I mean, Avatar was pretty good but it didn't need to be nearly as long as it was. As well, I expected this to be an extremely naive story and be terrible with historical accuracy.

I was encouraged to find that the 3 hours weren't so terribly dragged out. It moved at a pretty good pace, even if there wasn't much of  a story. It wasn't terribly inaccurate, and upon reading, there was not much controversy around the content.

Personally, I found the movie moderately enjoyable. It's a story I've heard countless times in movies and books, but it was nevertheless a decent story. I found Dunbar falling in love with the community and the people of the tribe to be quite beautiful. However, am I the only one in thinking the story would've been better without the love story? To me, it would feel almost more impactful had there been no woman, no wife. That he was simply determined to return to "his people", to protect them, and that he fell in love with them, just them, instead of them plus the woman/his wife.

The cinematography is, what I think, the movie did best of all. It really captured the American Frontier in all it's beauty and desolation. The shots of the buffalo heard were incredible. As well, the buffalo hunting scene was beautiful, especially after learning that there was very little CGI/animatronics and most of it was shot was an actual large heard of buffalo. It was shot incredibly well.

The acting was fine, though nothing spectacular. As well with the screenplay.

Like Mel Gibson in Braveheart, Kevin Costner didn't seem like the best choice for Dunbar. When lacking the facial hair, he looked too modern to be a believable Civil War soldier. Even with the facial hair, he didn't look quite right. The acting was very subpar, and I felt someone else may've been a better choice.  

Was this a good movie? Meh, it was okay. Should it have won Best Picture? Probably not. Especially over a classic like Goodfellas. Granted, I haven't actually seen Goodfellas, but I know it is a mobster classic, and is considered one of (if not #1) Martin Scorsese's best films.

This felt a lot like the "safer choice" of that year. While it was an alright film, it was certainly not deserving of anything more than a cinematography or costume award.

Acting- 7/10     
Directing- 7/10     
Screenplay- 6.5/10     
Music – 8.5/10    
Visuals- 9/10     
Captivation- 6/10    
Emotional Connection- 6/10     
Rewatchability- 6/10     
Overall Enjoyment- 7.5/10     
Overall Package- 7/10      

Total: 70.5/100 

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