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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 175,242 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


The journey begins this November. Discover it for yourself. See more »


PG-13 | See all certifications »

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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?


That is Rodney A. Grant's real long, flowing hair. He does not wear a wig in the film. See more »


Throughout the movie, Lt. Dunbar wears the yellow shoulder boards of a cavalry officer on his army jacket. In the scenes leading up to just before the Sioux war party leaves camp to attack the Pawnee, Lt. Dunbar has traded this jacket with Wind In His Hair for a breast plate. In the next sequence, the Sioux war party is leaving camp to attack the Pawnee and Wind In His Hair is seen wearing this jacket while on horseback, but the shoulder boards on it are now blue, the color worn by infantry officers. See more »


John Dunbar: Guns would make one warrior like two.
See more »


Featured in Special Collector's Edition: Bailando con lobos (2010) See more »


Fire Dance
By Peter Buffett
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Lt. Dunbar's worst fears have come true.
8 July 2003 | by (Omaha, NE USA) – See all my reviews

This film is a sweeping epic that you'll never forget whether you liked it or not. It tells the tale of love, loyalty, friendship, and self-realization in a magnificent setting among a great people, and during a time of strife. This film put Kevin Costner on the map as a Hollywood star. He could use a hit like this one right about now.

The first thing a viewer is struck by is the amazing landscape of western South Dakota. If any of you have never been out that way, do your self a favor and check it out. It will blow you away. The musical score is also very beautiful. The Indians look so authentic that they almost blend into the scenery even as we get to know them as individuals. It's hard to imagine that Plains Indian culture could have been depicted more realistically.

The story deals with Lt. John Dunbar (Costner), a disillusioned Civil War vet who asks to be transferred to a western post so he can see the west "before it's gone". He is then sent to a deserted fort where he finds himself in the precarious position of being the only white man in a land of Indians who seem intent on stealing his horse. He decides to try to get to know the local Sioux tribe and eventually becomes one of them. In finding a place in their society, he finds himself, so to speak.

Dances With Wolves is a very good film. I think it belongs in the top 250 to be sure. It is a little slow at times, but so what? A lot of great films are. Other than Dunbar, there are really no positive white characters. This is understandable considering the subject matter, but the barbarism of some of the soldiers seemed a little over the top. Other than that, no real gripes.

For me, the most memorable scene was when Dunbar and Kicking Bird were discussing the number of whites who would be coming into the territory.

Dunbar: You've often wondered about how many white people will be coming. There will be a

lot, my friend.

Kicking Bird: (in English) How many?

Dunbar: Like the stars. It makes me afraid for all of the Sioux.

Unfortunately, this fear has come true. All one has to do is drive out to White Clay, Neb. and see them sitting there. Along the street. Drunk by mid morning. The descendants of people like Kicking Bird and Wind in His Hair. These men would have been out hunting buffalo or battling with their enemies 150 years ago. Now, there is nothing for them to do. They have two choices: Stay on the reservation and live out a life in poverty while keeping their traditions alive, or try to make it in the cities and cast off their traditional ways. A tough choice to be sure. Watch the movie Thunderheart to get an idea of what these reservations are like. It's not a pretty picture.

The destruction of Indian Culture was not the goal of the United States. It is merely a CONSEQUENCE of the idea of Manifest Destiny. The Sioux are a magnificent people. What has happened to them could be summed up in one word: tragic.

10 of 10 stars

So sayeth the Hound.

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