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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 175,261 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?


Graham Greene's first reaction when he learned that most of the film was going to be in Lakota was, "I don't speak that". See more »


When Sgt Bauer is running away from the river fight, he is holding a Remington Model 1858 Revolver, but when he encounters Smiles A Lot on the bank of the river and tries to shoot him (the gun misfires), he is holding a Colt 1860 Army revolver See more »


John Dunbar: How did you get your name?
Stands With a Fist: When I came to live on the prarie, I worked every day... very hard... there was a woman who didn't like me. She called me bad names... sometimes she beat me. One day she was calling me these bad names, her face in my face, and I hit her. I was not very big, but she fell down. She fell hard and didn't move. I stood over her with my fist and asked if any other woman wanted to call me bad names... No one bothered me after that day.
John Dunbar: [smiles] I wouldn't think so. Show me......
See more »


Referenced in Doogie Howser, M.D.: Dances with Wanda (1991) See more »


Fire Dance
By Peter Buffett
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The best film of all time
28 May 2006 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Many people regard a lot of films as "top class" but I always keep a little shelf in my mind for the films that I regard as the best films of all time - films that are simply timeless masterpieces. Welcome to the top of that shelf! There are certain criteria by which films are judged and greatness is only obtained when all the criteria are satisfied in full. Dances with Wolves is the greatest timeless masterpiece of cinema to date because it satisfies all these criteria: 1) Cinematography: the sweeping landscape photography of the Frontier combined with the subtle night-time photography earns top marks. Aside from Oscars for Cinematography and editing, it also won the ASC award for Outstanding achievement in Cinematography - as well as a host of other industry recognition awards. In short - the cinematography is breathtaking.

2) Sound/Score: the score is one of the best ever written. Again, awards rained from the sky for magical and moving score that combined seamlessly with the film/story.

3) Screenplay: The dialogue and plot is magnificent. The film does not fall into the common plot formulas found in other films that attempt to pass themselves off as epics. The story combines as both of celebration of life and a somber rumination of the history of mankind.

There are comical moments, dramatic moments and tear-jerking moments - that all make their entry (and exit) into the story with flawless timing.

4) The Acting: for all that has been said about Kevin Costner, this was the peak of his career and he played the role of John Dunbar to perfection. A relatively unknown band of actors gave magnificent, heart-felt and down-to-earth performances in support. It was actually refreshing to see an "EPIC" where the producers didn't feel the need to throw famous actors in with cameo roles to improve it marketability. As far as I was concerned, there were no weak links in the chain on the acting side of things. Kevin Costner certainly proved his worthiness as a director by getting the best out of the cast.

5) The ONLY film in history to.... Have an extended (director's cut) version that was better than the original. Due to concerns about the length of the film, Dances with Wolves was stripped back to three hours. Some complained that it was still too long, but I thought that the film was patient - it included good relevant detail but managed to keep the story moving at a good pace. The director's cut added an hour to the cinematic release and was, without a doubt, better than the original. It somehow added more intrigue to the story and included many sobering insights into the destruction of the American Indian race.

Over all, I regard it as the greatest most masterful epic of all time.

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