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Broken Rainbow (1985)

 |  Documentary, History  |  1985 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 164 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 6 critic

Documentary chronicling the government relocation of 10,000 Navajo Indians in Arizona.

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Title: Broken Rainbow (1985)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Narrator (voice)
...
Translator Voice (voice)
...
Historical Voices (voice)
...
Herself (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Mark Andrews ...
Himself
Ruby Askie
Violet Bikadie
Dennis DeConcini ...
Himself
...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Himself
Grandfather Semu Haute ...
Native Voice (voice) (as Semu Huate)
Daniel Inouye ...
Himself (as Daniel K. Inouye)
Winona LaDuke ...
Herself
Manuel Lujan ...
Himself (as Manual Lujan)
Mo Udall ...
Himself (as Morris Udall)
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Storyline

Examines the history leading to the passage of P.L. 93-531, in 1974, to force the relocation of 10,000 Diné (Navajo) from Hopi land. Behind the scenes, argues the film, it was all about mining rights as Peabody Coal used the Hopi tribal council through its attorney, John Boyden, to evict Diné families who had lived in peace with Hopi people for centuries. As context, the film discusses the Long Walk, arbitrary reservation boundaries, the advent of Indian schools, the formation of compliant tribal councils, excavation contracts for coal, uranium, oil and natural gas that paid impoverished tribes pennies on the dollar, and the apologetics of elected officials, including Morris Udall. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Despite some poorly done parts here and there, it's a very effective film.
27 January 2011 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

This film won the Oscar for Best Documentary and I can see why--it does what a documentary should do. It gets the point across, builds sympathy for the Navajo and is hard to ignore. Despite being uneven here and there, it's still worth seeing.

The film is about recent encroachment on land where the Hopi and Navajo people are living within the United States. Coincidentally(?), after various valuable minerals were located on this land, companies came in and tried to gain control of land rights. Even if this was NOT orchestrated by greedy politicians and corporate interests, the end result is very sad as many people have been moved off ancestral lands and flounder as a result. The film is at its best when it shows these people, their despair and their stories. You just can't watch it and not feel for them, as it puts a face on these people.

The downside is the varying quality of the production. The music is rather annoying and the whole "we are SOOOO in touch with the Earth" aspect of the film is a poor decision from my point of view--as it distracts from the horrible lives these people have had foisted upon them. Plus hearing things such as "...they use crystals and prayers for healing..." annoyed me. Whether these traditional practices work (and they don't), it has nothing to do with the rightness of their cause and basic loss of human rights. Who cares what they believe, in other words--right is right and wrong is wrong. Don't try to get me see these natives or anyone as "more in touch with the planet"--that argument is unscientific and unnecessary. Law and right is what the film should have stuck with--as the more scientific and less new age audience wouldn't get distracted by these irrelevant practices--at least irrelevant to the argument. Without this and the annoying 1960s style music, I'd have given the film at least a 9.

By the way, fortunately on the DVD there is an update on how things have gone for these people. It's not all good, but at least you aren't left wondering because the film was set in the mid-1980s.


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