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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>
I saw "Soldier Blue" quite recently on British Television. About 2 hours before it was aired, the BBC did a program on George Armstrong Custer, which dispelled the story of a 'Last Stand' using archaeological evidence: The Seventh cavalry made a cowardly dash for it when the Indians attacked. Unfortunately(or fortunately depending on your point of view) the cavalry troopers and Custer were swarmed by Indians as they attempted to escape. Complete disorder swelled through the ranks of troopers. The last stand was more of a chaotic melee than a heroic action. Moreover the Indians were better armed, using repeating rifles whereas the Cavalry were using single shot Springfield carbines. My boyhood notion of Little Big Horn was shattered within a matter of minutes. I lost so much respect for Errol Flynn!!! But nothing, absolutely nothing could prepare me for what was to come later on that night. My watching Soldier Blue coincided with the climax of the tragedy in Soham, England. Therefore I was already upset.
The haunting opening song is a portent of a terrible tragedy. I got the feeling that something truly horrific was going to happen. It's a song that I won't forget for a long time. The film's two protaganists(Candice Bergen and Peter Strauss, a US cavalry trooper), escape from Indians who have attacked an Army wagon train(carrying amongst other things The soldiers wages). The subsequent storyline lulled me into a false sense of security. Bergen and Strauss begin to fall in love whilst deliberating about the plight of the Indians (Bergen feels they have been mistreated. She knows this. She had lived with Cheyenne Indians for 2 years. Strauss feels differently. His naivety does show...Great acting!!Well done Peter!). Actually I got very bored with this, thinking that the movie was turning into one of those slushy 'opposites attract' stories. But the introduction of Donald Pleasance as the sadistic gunrunner changed that. Strauss and Bergen are abducted by him. This point in the movie is important. I feel the tone begins to change. Those haunting lyrics returned to my head as I watched Bergen and Strauss attempting to escape from their abductor(respite is given by the sight of Candices' wonderful rear end). Strauss, being a soldier is obliged to burn the gunrunners wagon. The gunrunner has a large number of guns which he is going to sell to the Cheyenne indians. Bergen tries to stop him, but fails. The two escape and hide out in a cave. Bergen then leaves Strauss, possibly feeling that their relationship can come to nothing as she's due to marry another Soldier. She's found by cavalry scouts and brought back to their camp. Here she learns that the Cavalry troop are about to attack a Cheyenne village a few miles away. Coincidentally the village is the one she lived in for 2 years. She leaves the cavalry troop and heads straight for the village, hoping to warn them of the pending attack. This leads us to the finale. I won't describe it as I think it is beyond me. I don't think I can describe the effect it had on me either. Before this I had some idea of how the American Indians had been treated by the Europeans. The documentary on the ill fated Custer and his troop had only hinted at this type of treatment, and of course increased my capacity for cynicism.
The finale of Soldier Blue confirmed what that haunting song had hinted at. It's like nothing I've ever seen before. I was shocked beyond belief, and as an avid movie fan I have seen some shocking movies. Even the finale in "Don't Look now" comes nowhere near this. The director should be credited. He rams his point home (although some people may feel a little exploited). Forget all that nonsense about this movie referring to the My Lai atrocities in Vietnam. It's a poignant testament to human innocence(The Indians) and a disturbing testament to a successful act of genocide. Namely the systematic destruction of the native Americans.
I recommend this movie. Although it's not for everyone. The plot line rambles a bit at times. The photography is beautiful. Although some might think it typically 1960's. The acting is top notch. But it's NOT for the squeamish or faint hearted. Keep well away from this movie regardless of the fact that you bore the brunt of the opening 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan.
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