Broken Rainbow (1985)

 |  Documentary, History  |  1985 (USA)
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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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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »


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


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 <>

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User Reviews

Nice Documentary
1 June 2010 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Broken Rainbow (1985)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Oscar-winning documentary narrated by Martin Sheen tells the story of the U.S. government's relocation of over 10,000 Navajo Indians. The documentary covers the people who lost their land, their homes and their animals due to what was probably greed and money on the governments part. As an Indian I was interested in watching this documentary but I must admit that I think the film's great reputation is for its heart and not really the quality of the film itself. I didn't hate it as much as Roger Ebert did but I agree with him that there are a few cheats here including some statistics thrown out without anything backing them up, several clips from Hollywood movies that are meant to be seen as actual footage and even some of Sheen's narration seems to be going against what we're actually seeing. This movie tells an interesting story but it seems like the director wasn't sure what she wanted to show. Is this meant to be about the reasons why the relocation was forced? Is she trying to show the people who were harmed by this? I guess it tries to do both but many times it just feels lost in what it's trying to do. There's no question that anyone who watches this is going to feel pity for those being forced to give up their land. It goes without saying that the Indian has had more damaged done to them in this country yet the film should have centered more on this. We are introduced to some families that were forced to move and are having a hard time with their new lives. This is the best part of the movie as we get to know them but then we get forced stuff like blaming one elderly woman's death on a broken heart.

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