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Reviews & Ratings for
Thunderheart More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

This flick has it all.

Author: wliptrot from Canada
17 July 2005

A great plot that is loosely based on actual events. Great performance by Val Kilmer and an Oscar worthy performance by Graham Greene. A great debut performance by Sheila Tousey (as Maggie Eagle Bear) as well. There's a plot twist or two and if you enjoy movies related to or concerning fate, then this is for you especially. Val Kilmer (Ray) is great to watch as his loyalties move from staunch, to divided, then finally to the opposing side. The only drawback would be the fact there was no happy ending to the tale it purports to depict. Leonard Peltier remains in prison despite no evidence and those who murdered Anna Mae Picton Aquash remain unpunished.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:


15 March 2003

Just watched this again on DVD for the first time in 10 years and it's still an excellent film, probably Apted's best. The (based on fact) story is engrossing, the acting from Kilmer, Greene and Shepard first rate and the screenplay, photography and music all top notch. Highly recommended.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Excellent Film

Author: Frank_Keane from London, England
8 March 2003

I really enjoyed watching this movie. Excellent directing and acting. This is the best movie I have ever seen. Highly recommended.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

I still love this movie

Author: theotherwhitemeat from Cocoa Beach
30 October 2002

I still have no idea why I rented this video. The cover art is terrible and I'm not a huge Kilmer fan yet for some reason I rented this movie several years ago, and have seen it probably a dozen times since.

This is a great film, make no mistake. Kilmer is very good, as is Fred Ward (in something of a limited role). This is by far, Graham Greene's best performance, and he absolutely steals the show. His "Tofu-pilaf type" dress down of Kilmer is an all-time classic, and those who have seen the film will agree. Some very good humor as well as a lot of action and suspence.

Great film, and still one of my favorites.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Great deal of truth in this powerful film.

Author: lopingbuzzard from Earth, Sol system
11 September 2002

Based on actual events on and around Sioux reservations in the Dakotas, this film reveals injustice Native Americans suffer at the hands of government. The names have been changed, but all the facts and players are there. The American Indian Movement (AIM) is referred to in the film as ARM (AmerIndan Resistance Movement), traditional natives who are at odds with the corrupt capitalist natives of the Guardians of the Oglala Nation (GOONs). Jimmy Looks Twice (played by real-life American Indian Movement leader John Trudell) is the Leonard Peltier character, framed for a murder he didn't commit. Throw in a plot involving greed, uranium, pollution, the high mortality rate on the reservations, and a government that is either unwilling to investigate or is participating in the whole thing, and you've got an only slightly fictional portrait of life on the Rez For the documentary approach to the same subject, see "Incident at Oglala" narrated by Robert Redford and featuring Leonard Peltier himself an extensive comments by John Trudell.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:


Author: chris bell from Corvallis, Oregon
29 June 2002

I can see Thunderheart being an under appreciated film that is dismissed

in the the video store because of its terrible cover art. It is

interesting, compelling and never gets boring as the plot gets more

elaborate in its revelations while at the same time presenting the

obvious racism and mistreatment of the Sioux. No doubt that there should

be more films that address the persecution of Native Americans in the

century we just left and the tragic centuries before then.

It is greatly rewarding to see Graham Greene (Dances With Wolves'

Kicking Bird) as the intelligent and witty res' policeman. The

partnership between him and Kilmer shows a great evolution as the first

meeting involves Kilmer aggressively pinning Greene to the ground and

interrogating him - while there last scene together is almost as

touching as the final goodbye between Green and Costner in Wolves. Equally great supporting roles involve the strong willed Maggie and the

wise and at times even comedic old Medicine Man.

One little thing I have to mention. Why is it that Kilmer, with all his

witty comebacks to Greene's character, gives a pathetic "I knew that."

when Greene tells him about the necessary gift of tobacco to the old

Indian man.

If you are shocked or feel the need to question the reality of such

atrocities depicted in this film, a great book to read would be Lakota

Woman by American Indian activist Mary Crow Dog which tells of events

quite similar to those this

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A consciousness-raiser for non-native Americans

Author: michaela-5 from Springfield, MA
5 February 2000

Blending the mystical with the political, Thunderheart manages to cover a lot of ground while developing a real sense of place. The script is respectful without romantizating native americans, and with the exception of Val Kilmer (to the best of my knowledge) native characters are played by native people (even Fred Ward!) The prolific James Horner's score never dominates but moves the story along well.

People who want to honor the core spirit of this movie owe it to themselves to do some exploring about what can be done TODAY to preserve native rights and lands. Use the Internet! Battles still rage.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Well-worth watching

Author: tpring28 from United States
12 May 2006

Thiw excellent film has turned out to be one of my all-time favorites--very under-rated and under-seen. It cams the closest to giving me a true picture of Sioux life and beliefs. "The res" as shown in the beginning of the movie, and again later, has the stark beauty of a moonscape. Sam Shepard as Frank Coutelle is a great heavy--sleazy and slimy. When he gets bitten by a badger, you almost want to cheer for the badger. Sheila Tousey as Maggie Eagle Bear plays a strong and sympathetic part--fighting for her people's rights legally in the white man's world. Val Kilmer starts out as an FBI agent, at first ashamed to admit he has American Indian blood. Chief Ted Thin Elk as Grandpa Reaches is a "natural"---he plays the part of a medicine man. And Graham Greene is, as always, a treat to watch. Give this movie a watch---you'll never regret it.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Thunderheart makes you think about what we do not know

Author: conniekaack from United States
22 October 2005

I have been interested in native Americans since I was very young and this movie I have watched with my sons 26 and 31 and my husband over and over. It is real as it gets. Chief Ted Thin Elk was wonderful and is missed since his passing in 1997. Val Kilmer was also very good as was everyone in the movie. It seems good to see a movie with native Americans portrayed in a manner that is true, believable, honest and due the respect they deserve since the taking over of America. Maybe if more of us respected the earth as it should be we would not be having all the problems we are facing. The scenery was wonderful. It makes you wonder what we do not know that is going on in this country of ours. The government was not honest with the native Americans then and is still using them to this day. This whole land was their reservation and unfortunately they have ended up with very little and very selected land. They may not be praised in this day in age by all but will be in the next life.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A sure 10 - Opens eyes to a tragic reality in the USA

Author: Maciej Mezynski ( from El Cajon, California
27 January 2002

This is not a film that attempts to portray events entirely realistically; instead it creates caricatures out of characters in order to present a very real and indeed true-to-life issue. There is some fantasy depicted in the film, which might throw some viewers off guard, though again this is because realism is not the issue the film addresses. Action scenes are shot in a dramatic manner very much like that in the typical Hollywood action film, but the overall excitement of the film is created with the purpose of catching the attention of a mass audience, and then leaving this large audience with something to think about. In this the film succeeds splendidly. The action, however, is not the central point of the picture, it is a philosophical movie rather than an action flick. Films like Little Big Man, and Dances With Wolves were both excellent, but they concerned events that occurred in the past, hence were not especially relevant to what is going on right now. Many people who watch films like Little Big Man do not fully realize that the situation for Indians has not changed all that much, some even choose to believe that there are no problems at all any longer. Those films, especially Dances With Wolves, were also highly sentimental, and therefore almost impossible to watch due to the fake sense of creating emotional appeal. Thunderheart does not bother with sentimentality; one can watch the entire film absorbing even the scenes of death and sadness without having to shed a tear. The drama is not undermined, but it isn't put into the focus of the film as if attempting to make the entire audience cry, instead it focuses on the important issues. Thunderheart is set in the 20th century, and it comments on the state of life for Native American Indians today. The United States is one of the richest countries in the world, yet life on Indian reservations is far more like that in third world countries. It is a life almost without any hope, and the only way out seems to be an abandonment of their traditions and their own language. A people should never be forced to forsake their own religion and beliefs in order to live decently, just imagine if someone suggested that all Christians abandon their belief in Christ or otherwise be subjected to living in third world conditions. I have been involved with the Indian community since I was twelve years old, and I have spent months at a time living on reservations. I have seen the inhumane conditions that the people at Viejas Reservation lived under ten years ago, and I witnessed the change as the casino was opened. Most reservations, however, are not allowed to have casinos, and life for them has not improved at all. Thunderheart is an excellent film because it opens the eyes of people in regard to an issue that deserves to be experienced by a mass audience; and the film achieves its objective flawlessly.

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