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Easily one of the finest American documentaries ever, INCIDENT AT
OGLALA is also something of a companion to Peter Matthiessen's
exhaustive and controversial book 'In The Spirit Of Crazy Horse.'
Complementing each other perfectly, they both relate the details
surrounding the trial and imprisonment of Leonard Peltier.
Beginning with depictions of the appalling social conditions on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, the film builds through depictions of the stand-offs and confrontations on the res between AIM members (American Indian Movement) and authorities both local and federal. If nothing else, INCIDENT AT OGLALA underscores the harsh truism that there's plenty of nasty injustice to be found in the US, and that fairness can be an elusive and nebulous concept with distressing regularity.
See this film (and also director Michael Apted's excellent follow-up, MOVING THE MOUNTAIN).
When I first saw this film, I was not terribly informed re the Peltier
As soon as the credits rolled, I knew that I would have to own this film,
only so that I could lend it to everyone I knew. As I had known would
happen, each new person I showed it to became angry and incredulous: how
Leonard Peltier still be in prison? The snow job this soft-spoken,
good-humored Ojibwa was given by the U.S. government makes me feel ashamed
to be an American. It becomes painfully clear that the FBI popped Leonard
because they needed to pop an American Indian, preferably an AIM Indian -
and Leonard was there. But if you ask me, no justice has even been done
the 2 dead FBI agents Peltier's conviction was intended to avenge; jailing
the wrong man - KNOWING he is the wrong man - is far worse, I feel, than
jailing anyone at all. I think Coler and Williams are still waiting for
their killer(s) to be brought to justice; by the same token, Leonard
Peltier's supporters are still awaiting justice for Leonard himself. This
film clearly shows the mockery made by the U.S. government of its own
judicial system; any self-respecting American - of any ethnic background -
should cringe at some of the statements made, freely and willfully, by
government staff and spokespeople in this film. I hope they all watched
this, and could see just how ignorant, unconscionable, and utterly hateful
they sounded, with no regard whatsoever for true justice. The bottom line?
Watch this film. Then show it to everyone you love. If we continue to
awareness, then maybe someday, Leonard will find justice - and
With "Incident at Oglala", Robert Redford and Michael Apted exposed how
American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier was unjustly
convicted of murder. It was obvious that the whole thing was
politically motivated. And regardless of who committed the murders,
they were intimidating the Indians. And anyway, the white people stole
the Indians' land to begin with, so the Indians had every right to
stand up for themselves.
The point is that any time that the US government talks about freedom and democracy, it's pure hypocrisy. An innocent man sits in jail while thugs rule the White House. This is an important documentary for everyone.
After seeing this film it is unbelievable that
Leonard Peltier is still in prison. How is it possible that
is possible nowadays.
See this film and let it open your eyes and then do something
FREE LEONARD PELTIER!!!!
Ries "A Dutchman in Ireland"
It's unbelievable that Leonard Peltier remains sitting in prison to
this very day. A classic example of extreme oppression and injustice
dealt out by the federal government. Though this film was originally
released in 1992, it's no less riveting today. The documentary makes
its case clearly and logically, unraveling the intricate details like a
thriller. This film is not slick--and that is precisely its strength.
Without using cheap visual gimmicks, it relies on the power of story
Few documentaries can match the intense content of this story. Every American needs to see this film to realize exactly what's happening in this country. The war waged against native people continues from centuries ago. You'll also see how this injustice was only a warm-up for the current Green Scare campaign against political activists and ordinary citizens defending earth from destruction. Learn more about the Green Scare in articles by journalists Dean Kuipers and Will Potter.
Leonard Peltier is still in prison to date for a crime he didn't commit. He was railroaded with government lies and used as a scapegoat. Injustice still reigns in America. See how the FBI fabricated evidence and coerced and strong armed people during the trial. This movie shows how the US Government can bend justice to suit them at any time. If you sit in your safe warm homes without empathy for the Native American people then you are the problem. Not part of the problem but all of the problem. People need to get involved and stand up against such tyranny and make it into a true democracy. For the people, for all the people and not just the rich white powers that be.
I own this documentary on VHS and DVD.
What I'd like to see is Michael Apted do another on the same subject 20 years later.
Can't give it 10/10 because the "incident" has NOT been resolved. Michael Apted has apparently forgotten to seek an ending for the story he felt adamantly about 20 years ago.
I would like to see a final chapter... 20 years imprisoned... Leonard Peltier... FREE... pardoned... and compensated... for the crimes against him... and his Nation.
Watching this documentary brings out the Warrior Spirit in me. And we all should contact the President of the United States... before he categorizes all Warriors as terrorists.
Incident at Oglala (1992)
*** (out of 4)
Documentary about the June 26, 1975 shooting at the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in Oglala, South Dakota where two FBI agents chased a truck onto the property and minutes later they were shot dead. Two people were found not guilty but a third, Leonard Peltier, was found guilty and sentenced to prison but much evidence shows that he wasn't the man pulling the trigger. I had never really heard of this case, although Apted's THUNDERHEART is loosely based around the events here and my main reason for watching this was because of the director as well as narrator/producer Robert Redford. I think those already familiar with the case are going to be the ones who really benefit from this film. As someone not overly familiar with it, I found the documentary to try and show every side of the debate and quite often the stories got mixed together and were rather hard to follow. This hard to follow stuff is perhaps due to the actual case, which seemed to be all over the place in terms of what really happened. Every witness seems to be telling a different story and many of them have changed their stories over the years. The evidence showing that Peltier is pretty interesting but at the same time you have those who are dead certain that he was guilty. The film clearly wants to show him as an innocent victim but I guess it will always be a mystery as that what really happened and in what ordered the events occurred. Director Apted does a very good job at getting many of the original people together for this, including Peltier, who is still in prison.
Solid, interesting, if slightly dry documentary about a shootout on a
Sioux reservation that killed two FBI agents and the government's
attempts to blame someone for the crimes, finally railroading Leonard
Peltier, using a lot of clearly falsified evidence.
Just as interesting as the trial itself is the examination of the deep political and philosophical split between the 'modern', more white-world assimilated Native Americans, who worked hand in hand with the US government, versus the American Indian Movement (AIM) who were fighting to protect and keep alive Native American heritage -- the conflict leading to a reign of terror by the modern Native American tribe leader.
There is one key element, the mysterious 'Mister X' who supposedly actually confessed to the killings that's awkwardly and strangely under-explored.
In all, this feels like a good episode of PBS's great 'Frontline' series, which - for me- is actually pretty high praise.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was very intense you could say. Two sides to this story and for the most part it is pretty obvious which one was right and which was wrong. In my opinion the FBI and government was wrong for sure. They just made up a bunch of bullshit to put somebody in prison. There was many lies during the case. Like for example the van and pick up mix up. I don't know anyone who mixes those up. especially when they have other colors on them. But of course they say whatever they want to get what they want. I don't think that I agree with Leonard being in jail if he really didn't do it. If he knows the person that did it and knows for sure that they did it I think that it should be investigated and have the person who really did it in jail. I think that the government just comes up with whatever they want so they can have things go their way. Overall it was a good movie and I learned lots of information on what happened. I would recommend it to pretty much anyone so that they could see how corrupt the government is.
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