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The Last of His Tribe (1992)

TV Movie  -   -  Drama | Romance  -  28 March 1992 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 269 users  
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The story of Ishi, the last survivor of the Yahi Indians of California. Befriended by an Anthropologist (Jon Voigt) who is able to speak Ishi's language... See full synopsis »

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Title: The Last of His Tribe (TV Movie 1992)

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Professor Alfred Kroeber
...
Ishi
...
Dr. Saxton Pope
...
Tom Waterman
...
Henriette Kroeber
...
Mr. Whitney
Christianne Hauber ...
Miss Edna Block
Charles Martinet ...
Carl D. Parker ...
Sheriff Weber
...
Mrs. Gustafson
Benne Alder ...
Mrs. Whatley
Marie Bain ...
Nurse
Loryn Barlese ...
Ichi's Young Sister
Gilbert Bear ...
Ichi's Father
Lance Brady ...
Reporter #4
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Storyline

The story of Ishi, the last survivor of the Yahi Indians of California. Befriended by an Anthropologist (Jon Voigt) who is able to speak Ishi's language... See full synopsis »

Add Full Plot | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

They murdered his people . . . stripped him of his dignity. Graham Greene is trapped in a white man's world. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

28 March 1992 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Den sidste kriger  »

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Version of Ishi: The Last of His Tribe (1978) See more »

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User Reviews

NOT "true", and an insult to boot
14 September 2002 | by (Lincoln, Nebraska) – See all my reviews

I usually try to avoid overstating my case, but this is probably the worst film ever made. The true story of Ishi is a story of a life well lived and a sensitive ambassador of one culture to another. But this film is so full of falsehoods about Ishi, and clichés about Native Americans, that it should probably be banned. And I have never said that before about any work of art or literature.

Until his encounter with the Saltu (us), Ishi was merely a good citizen (so to speak) of his harassed and harried nation, simply doing what he was supposed and expected to do as a Yana man. Period. After that encounter, he took up his destiny as a bridge between two utterly different cultures and fulfilled it with dignity and competence. He did NOT at any time freak out and run around shouting "No! No!"---what baloney! Almost everyone who knew him commented on the low-keyed, self-controlled manner in which he conducted himself in his strange surroundings. He never lost his cool. Nor did he babble ridiculous Hollywood-Indian clichés about "our Mother Earth", etc., as appears in the film. The most insulting lie in the film is the sequence in which Pope (who was, by the way, certainly not the clownish idiot portrayed here) brings in a prostitute to service Ishi. Actually, Ishi had much too great a sense of dignity to indulge in any such thing, and was always very cool and formal in the presence of women, as his culture demanded.

The portrayal of Kroeber is almost as offensive. The film makes him into a stereotype of the emotionally starved anthropologist who regards Indians coldly as mere objects of study, and allows him to really respect Ishi only after the latter is dead. Again, nonsense. Kroeber did use the kind of language that was common in his day: he wrote that when Ishi made his first acquaintance with Saltu society "he was absolutely ignorant" (of Saltu ways, that is), and used unfortunate expressions like "wild Indian." But everybody knew what he meant. He and Ishi were friends, and Kroeber made it clear that knowing Ishi was one of the great experiences of his life---Ishi, he made clear, not as an object of study but as a warm, generous and gracious human being. There is no evidence that Kroeber's wife Henrietta looked down her nose at Ishi or that she was the racist snob depicted in the film. In fact, as Kroeber's second wife Theodora recorded in her memoirs, Ishi's sensitivity and compassion helped Kroeber greatly in dealing with Henrietta's death. I guess the makers of this film avoided depicting that because it would have interfered with their disorted portrayal of Kroeber as an insensitive lout. (Speaking of Theodora, she wrote two very readable and informative accounts of the life of Ishi, whom she had never met, consulting extensively with her husband. And by the way, these two were the parents of the fantasy writer Ursula K. LeGuinn.)

If only this film had been based on Theodora's writing! This film, I say again, is an atrocity. It makes me so angry that I feel like committing mayhem.


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