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Report reaches the US cavalry that the Apache leader Ulzana has left his reservation with a band of followers. A compassionate young officer, Lieutenant DeBuin, is given a small company to find him and bring him back; accompanying the troop is McIntosh, an experienced scout, and Ke-Ni-Tay, an Apache guide. Ulzana massacres, rapes and loots across the countryside; and as DeBuin encounters the remains of his victims, he is compelled to learn from McIntosh and to confront his own naiveté and hidden prejudice. Written by
David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>
Although technically not credited as such, Burt Lancaster was virtually a producer on the film, helping bring it to screen, taking points instead of an upfront salary and having a say in the editing stages. See more »
When the platoon sets out from the fort, Macintosh's Indian girlfriend is watching them depart, with her face half-hidden by the shawl she is holding tightly under her nose. The next shot cuts straight to a close up of her face, but her hands are not in view and more of her face is hidden by the shawl. See more »
This is one of those movies that seems to have a lot more action than it does. It follows a young cavalry lieutenant, sent to bring a renegade Apache back to the reservation. Ulzana, reminiscent of Geronimo, leads a small band of Indians on a bloody raid of settlers homes. This is one of those rare movies that has a very methodical plot and very few illusions. Lancaster is pretty good as the tired veteran, and Bruce Davidson turns in a pretty good performance as an idealistic soldier whose views of the world are deeply shaken by what he sees.
Even more surprising is the portrayal of the Apaches. They're not menacingly evil subhumans as in some early westerns, but neither are they the always humane and sensitive pseudo flower children caricatures as in "Little Big Man" or "Dances With Wolves". They're extremely violent, ruthless, and cruel--however the movie doesn't set them up as necessarily the bad guys. They're just the adversary.
At one point Lancaster's character says "Hating the Apache is like hating the desert because there isn't any water in it." (Or something similar.) That line really sums up the movie in my view.
There isn't much black or white here, just two groups of men--and it is a masculine movie--using their stamina, wiles, and tactics in a game of cat and mouse. There are some violent scenes, but never gratuitous; the scenes can be unsettling, but its not really gruesome.
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