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21 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

devastating

10/10
Author: jimi99 from denver
27 April 2007

I can't believe I'm the first person to comment on this 1985 Oscar winning doc, it should be seen by every American. The depth of the tragedy inflicted on the Navajo to this very day by the US Government through the BIA is hard to comprehend. The Euro-American race has long proved its prowess in human rights violations, but there is a particular cruelty in its methods against the Navajo and Hopi nations, who they tried to set against each other in order to pillage the incredible wealth under the land and poison it in the process. It could certainly be construed as torture, with shots of BIA bulldozers destroying even the desert vegetation to deprive the people of their food and medicine. When they could have given them much more than the peanuts (2 to 3% of the value of all that coal, gas, oil, and uranium!!!) and given them a few mesas on which to live their old dignified ways. Which is all they ever really wanted. Exploited for their beautiful weaving and jewelry too, ripped off, people!

The documentary is nearly perfect in execution, with wonderful narration by Martin Sheen and character voices by Buffy St Marie and Burgess Meredith(!). And a special treat for Laura Nyro fans, she wrote and sings an original song, a beautiful piece that weaves in and out of the film. Please watch it.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Hopi-Navaho-US history in a nutshell

9/10
Author: Jambo-6 from Oregon
23 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film from 1985 documents the relationship of the US government with these 2 tribes, clearly explaining much of the culture, spirituality and lifestyle of these native peoples. This is, at times, painful to watch. Our tax dollars gave them tract homes, but took away their way of life when they were forced to relocate so mining companies could strip their ancestral lands. It is very recent and current history with the extras on the DVD bringing the viewers up to date on the latest legislation (2006). I would highly recommend this documentary for anyone interested in native American studies, history of the US, and those who care for the environment. The first review says the rest.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful Movie that Brings Important People to Light

10/10
Author: Misty Moon from United States
7 April 2012

This is an excellent movie, a well deserved Academy winner! Having watched it for the first time in 2012, I wish I'd watched it earlier. The production is wonderful. It was made in 1985 and updated in 2004 ("Extras".) Expect the quality of a film released in 1985, but the message, is timeless. What have we allowed to go on here? (Will leave out details for those who haven't seen the movie.) I've seen comments regarding the land, crystals, medicinal/food plants as not being relevant to the Hopis and Navajo's plight. That couldn't be further from the truth. I encourage those who haven't experienced a deep connection with nature to spend quiet time purposefully connecting with an open heart and open senses. Then you may better feel how connected we all are. To know nature at that level, is to realize that nature is part of our family. To leave land that one has been living with as family for most of their lives is to experience the death of a dearly beloved one, a death as part of your own heart, as all is interconnected. The abuse of the Indian people is one of the great tragedies of this era. What can we do now to change this? Thanks to the movie makers and participants for sharing their stories and creating awareness.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Despite some poorly done parts here and there, it's a very effective film.

7/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
27 January 2011

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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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Flawed but not without value

6/10
Author: John Seal from Oakland CA
1 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When this Academy Award winning film (and what a weak crop of films it must have been in 1986) concentrates on the economic and environmental pillage wrought on the Hopi and Navajo peoples by the Peabody Mining Company, it's powerful stuff. Unfortunately, however, Broken Rainbow reflects the period in which it was produced, and is weighed down with numerous references to then trendy 'New Age' philosophies. There's a bunch of junk about the healing power of crystals and the gathering wrath of the Great Spirit, all of it conveyed with utmost seriousness by narrator Martin Sheen. It's a great shame, because the crimes committed against Native Americans by the United States government are heinous and well worthy of a hard-hitting documentary. Broken Rainbow prefers to romanticize the Hopi and Navajo, and at times even feeds the stereotype of the Noble Savage. A disappointment, but not a total write-off.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Nice Documentary

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
1 June 2010

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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