Dances with Wolves

Amanda Nall

19-April-2020

Text Review Assignment: Dances with Wolves

Dances with Wolves is set in 1863 (filmed in 1990) and depicts the meeting and development of multiple relationships between a Union Army lieutenant, John Dunbar, and the Sioux people across South Dakota and Wyoming.

Most generally there is a difference in power between the Americans and the Native Americans that resides all throughout the movie. It is the preface through which the actions of John Dunbar are decided upon and it is the top concern for the Sioux chief, Kicking Bird. Relative to this class, the Native American people are seen as the Other by the Union Army and experience aggressive take over of the land that the Native Americans call home. They are dehumanized and seen as savages. At the end of the movie, Dunbar returns to his post and is dressed as a Sioux person but he is shot at and his horse, Cisco, dies because the Union Army blindly shot at someone who resembled a “savage”.

One intimate relationship develops between John Dunbar and an American woman, Stands with a Fist, who was taken in by the Sioux chief, Kicking Bird, at the age of six. Stands with a Fist is challenged by meeting another white person after having grown up and married within the Sioux tribe. She has to remember how to speak english and to open herself back up after losing her pervious husband. Stands with a Fist is battling her identity and trying to understand it after she has intimate feelings for John Dunbar but is, temporarily, banned from relations by the chief. Once the chief grants her freedom, she experiences an overwhelming affection for Dunbar and they are married soon after.

Throughout Dances with Wolves the main themes, discussed above, are morphed into a beautiful story and the development of personal relationships. I think that the director wants the audience to understand that getting to know someone is a rewarding experience and forming new relationships, keeping and open mind, and placing trusting others can bring rewards that reach beyond even the largest power struggles. I think that this movie is a perfect example to talk about identity and power and it is interesting that I found less injustice that expected. Perhaps there was less injustice on the plains of America before is was colonized by immigrants. The power struggle between the Union Army and the Sioux is clearly developed throughout the film and is a basis for many of the tribes actions and thus the plot of the movie. The identity struggle of both Stands with a Fist and John Dunbar is portrayed and both people learn to develop their identities in order to understand each other and be together.

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