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Bernard L. Kowalski
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In the wilderness of early Colonial days, trapper Tom Hutter lives with his two daughters in an isolated floating fort. Tom's one-man vendetta against Indians has brought the wrath of the Hurons down on him...thereby garnering the reluctant aid of wilderness wanderer Deerslayer and his Mohican blood-brother, Chingachgook. Among adventures, violence and escapes, a batch of dirty secrets emerges... Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Old Tom Hutter:
Thank ye, oh Lord, for delivering my enemies into my hands. When them blood-lustin' heathen Hurons come loping this way, I'm going to give 'em hellfire and damnation right out of the mouth of my cannon. I'm going to smite 'em hip and thigh like the Good Book says... and teach 'em the error of their sinful ways. Amen, Lord.
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"The Deerslayer," much like the novel that came before it, is perhaps one of many politically INcorrect movies in America. Sure, the guy who wrote the book lived 150 years ago, but he had an excuse; he and the rest of the settlers were probably so busy trying to survive in unknown territory that they could afford to be completely ignorant of the fact that the Native Americans were people just like him. Civil Rights were the LEAST of their problems.
The people who made this horrible movie, however, have absolutely NO excuse for the crude, offensive portrayal of Native Americans. It seemed at first that they were *trying* to be politically correct (or PC, as I usually abbreviate it), but it sank to using terms like "savages" and kept the focus entirely on the white characters and the "good Indian."
Speaking of Indians, here's one of the many ***SPOILERS*** I warned you about; Hetty Hutter (played by the brilliant Rita Moreno) is NOT Judith's sister - Hetty is actually an Indian that the old guy took from a camp he would later set fire to (she was just a baby when this happened). I have two MAJOR problems with this. First of all, if the old guy hates Indians so much, WHY WOULD HE BOTHER TO TAKE ONE OF THEIR BABIES??? The movie says it's because he thought he could raise her to be "normal," and not like one of her "savage race," and by now we all should know that this is SO RACIST. At best, this establishes the old guy as a villain (though not THE villain). I found myself wanting him to die and I loathed the main character for wanting to save him, but the old guy's final death took so darn long, I couldn't enjoy it. Second, prior to the discovery of Hetty's true heritage, everyone thought she was just stupid (or crazy). The idiot screen-hog who plays Deerslayer tries to comfort her (she's *saddened* by this discovery) by making up some gibberish about Indians having some sort of 6th sense that's unique to their genes and that it's okay if she wasn't "one of us." I don't remember the exact wording - it came off sounding completely racist (more so than the old guy), and when I tried to think about it, the characters had moved on to the next problem.
And, not surprisingly, this movie's also UNBELIEVABLY SEXIST! Rita Moreno constantly looks like she wants to get in on some of the action, but the white male screen-hogs are the ones who get to do the fight-scenes. All Hetty gets to do action-wise is dive into a lake and carry a knife in the hopes of rescuing Judith - but Hetty gets captured, as all female leads before 1973 did. Poor Rita. I had hoped her character would get to be one of the heroes, too - but it turns out that all Hetty was there for was to;
1) look odd (or "exotic," as I've heard her be described),
2) add to the pathetic drama,
3) make Deerslayer LOOK like he's all for equal opportunity (when he's really just like the old racist guy).
Rita Moreno, one of my favorite actresses, persevered through a movie that both degraded and exploited her. I have to give her 8 stars for her bravery. However, as a staunch supporter of Civil rights, I cannot
in good conscience - give "The Deerslayer" more than one star.
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