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After a cavalry group is massacred by the Cheyenne, only two survivors remain: Honus, a naive private devoted to his duty, and Cresta, a young woman who had lived with the Cheyenne two years and whose sympathies lie more with them than with the US government. Together, they must try to reach the cavalry's main base camp. As they travel onward, Honus is torn between his growing affection for Cresta, and his disgust for her anti-American beliefs. They reach the cavalry campsite on the eve of an attack on a Cheyenne village, where Honus will learn which side has really been telling him the truth. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <email@example.com>
In order to recreate the gory Sand Creek massacre of Cheyenne Indians, director Ralph Nelson sought the services of orphaned amputees. Various prosthetic limbs were affixed to missing body parts of these amputees, and then, in one of the most blood-and-guts sequences in film history, these "limbs" were mercilessly hacked off as the cameras rolled. See more »
The voice-over at the end of the film describes the events we have just witnessed as taking place in 1864.However,earlier in the movie Honus tells Cresta that his father was killed at the battle of Little Bighorn which occurred in 1876. See more »
When I see young people today behaving like that I just... I can't help wondering what this goddamn country's coming to.
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One of the Most Hideous Crimes of North America History
While riding through the Cheyenne territory transporting a safe to Fort Reunion and protecting the white woman Cresta Marybelle Lee (Candice Bergen), who had lived in a Cheyenne village for two years and sympathize with them, the twenty-two men of the cavalry are attacked by the Indians. Only Cresta and the naive, idealistic and clumsy private Honus Gent (Peter Strauss) survive, and together they walk to Fort Reunion, where Cresta is supposed to meet her fiancé Lieutenant McNair (Bob Carraway). Along their journey, Honus protects Cresta against Kiowa Indians, destroys the shipment of a trader of weapons and falls in love for Cresta, but he does not believe in Cresta words that the Cheyenne village is peaceful. When the cavalry attacks, he witnesses the hideous massacre of five hundred peaceful Cheyenne, more than half composed of women and children, and realizes that Cresta was telling the truth.
In 1970, I was in my first year of high-school, and my classmates and I went at least three times to the movie theater to see this fictional story based on one of the most hideous crimes of North America history, the Sand Creek Massacre on 24 November 1864, in this awesome and controversial motion picture. This movie rewrote the Western genre, in a period of Vietnam War, "peace and love" and "Billy Jack", and for the first time the Indians were disclosed as human beings and owners of a land invaded by the "white men". Further, the director Ralph Nelson does not spare the savage action of the cavalry, depicting the rapes, scalps, decapitations, mutilations and shots with gore in very graphic and impressive images. In that occasion, I felt in love for gorgeous Candice Bergen and her natural beauty in the best role of her brilliant career. At least in Brazil, this movie has never been released on DVD; I own a very rare VHS in my collection, released by Globo Video distributor. Unfortunately the edition is cut (it seems that somebody has censored the movie), reducing the impact of the violent scenes, and has terrible mistakes in the subtitles written by Maria Tereza Nocera, who translate for example "private" by "sargento" (sergeant in Portuguese) among other "atrocities" like the Brazilian title. My vote is ten.
Title (Brazil): "Quando é Preciso Ser Homem" ("When It Is Necessary to be Man")
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