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Dances with Wolves (1990)

PG-13  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Western  |  21 November 1990 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 175,176 users   Metascore: 72/100
Reviews: 372 user | 90 critic | 20 from Metacritic.com

Lt. John Dunbar, exiled to a remote western Civil War outpost, befriends wolves and Indians, making him an intolerable aberration in the military.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Won 7 Oscars. Another 37 wins & 31 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ten Bears (as Floyd Red Crow Westerman)
Jimmy Herman ...
Nathan Lee Chasing His Horse ...
Jason R. Lone Hill ...
Tony Pierce ...
Doris Leader Charge ...
Pretty Shield


Lt. John Dunbar is dubbed a hero after he accidentally leads Union troops to a victory during the Civil War. He requests a position on the western frontier, but finds it deserted. He soon finds out he is not alone, but meets a wolf he dubs "Two-socks" and a curious Indian tribe. Dunbar quickly makes friends with the tribe, and discovers a white woman who was raised by the Indians. He gradually earns the respect of these native people, and sheds his white-man's ways. Written by Greg Bole <bole@life.bio.sunysb.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Lt. John Dunbar is about to discover the frontier...within himself. See more »


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




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Release Date:

21 November 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Danza con lobos  »

Box Office


$19,000,000 (estimated)


$184,208,848 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (extended) | (director's cut) | (DVD special edition)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In the novel the indians were Comanches but were changed in the film due to the need for a large herd of buffalo, which were found in South Dakota, which had one of the largest North American communities in the country, the Sioux. See more »


The Sioux in the movie react to the arrival of the white man as if he was from another planet. In reality the Dakota Sioux had fought whites in Western Minnesota during 1862. 800 hundred whites were killed and 38 Sioux were hanged after hostilities ceased. There is no way that this news would not have reached the Lakota Sioux tribes directly to the west. See more »


Stands With a Fist: [translating for Kicking Bird] He thanks Dances with Wolves for coming.
John Dunbar: Who is Dances with Wolves?
Stands With a Fist: It is the name all the people are calling you now.
See more »


Referenced in Gintberg på kanten: Bogense (2011) See more »


Fire Dance
By Peter Buffett
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

One of the great ones
27 August 2003 | by (Texas) – See all my reviews

People who say this movie is long and boring have obviously never sat through, oh, "Lawrence of Arabia," "Patton," "Doctor Zhivago," "The Godfather," "Ran," "Seven Samurai," or probably even "Braveheart." Thank God that not every filmmaker believes that a car must explode every 10 seconds in order for his movie to be a success. Kevin Costner is one of those directors who prefers the long format. David Lean, Francis Coppola and Mel Gibson, to name a very few, also worked in that format, and produced lasting works of art that also packed theaters. There are plenty of options for people who don't like movies that take the time to build character, drama and suspense, movies like "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," "Freddy Vs. Jason," and "Weekend at Bernie's." I don't think any of those movies has ever been called "boring," but they sure are crap cinema.

Onward. "Dances With Wolves" thrilled audiences way back in 1990 and made so darn much money precisely because people had forgotten the pleasures of the long narrative, the Western genre, and movies that weren't special effects schlock-fests. It remains an inspiring and moving experience, especially on DVD, which preserves the movie's theatrical sound and picture quality.

Costner's direction is first-rate. He's able to blend intimate drama with big, sprawling action that covers a huge canvas. I'm amazed at how smoothly the film segues from movement to movement -- action, alienation, suspense, social commentary, romance. Heck, Spielberg could take a lesson or two from this movie.

He also gets great performances out of his cast. I don't think of these people as actors, but as the characters they play. That's a compliment not just to the actors themselves, but their director. And, yes, Costner is terrific as John Dunbar.

Sure, it's easy to call "Dances" politically correct w/ reference to the Indians. But it also treats them as people and, better yet, as fictional characters whose lives are made part of a fascinating narrative. I just consider all the complaints about the politics of this movie as total hogwash.

Finally, the movie is beautifully shot, has an unforgettable score, and is very well-written. I've never thought of "Dances" as a Western, but a modern action picture/character study that avoids all the boring cliches of the Western genre. Here is a movie that stands for something, means something, and deserves at least as much respect as some of the overrated dreck we've gotten saddled with lately.

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