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For those of us who appreciate historical accuracy
"The Broken Chain" is a very different movie from others you might expect about the plight of First Peoples. It offers, not only a unique perspective on the American Revolutionary War, but the perspective of women in Iroquois society. They play a far greater role in their people's way of life than normally believed. This is not often depicted in movies or television.
When watching this film, one gets the feeling that this movie's objective is to teach rather than entertain. This is not to downplay the theatre: the acting, direction, and writing are top-notch. But as my friends point out, the movie drags on as it recounts the history of Joseph Brandt (Eric Schweig) and Lohaheo (J.C. White Shirt) from teenagers to their pivotal moments in North American history and the eventual fall of the once mighty Iroquois Confederacy. These two are "brothers", well supported by Gesina (the talented Buffy Sainte-Marie) and Seth (Wes Studi), who provide the necessary splash of reality for the two leads, as well as Catherine (Elaine Bilstad) and Sir William Johnson (Pierce Brosnan), who are essentially their foils.
What I'm fond of most about this movie are the women's interaction with each of the characters. Gesina and Catherine are not easily defined. In most movies that concern the First Peoples of the Americas, the women are often shadows of their community. This is not the case in "The Broken Chain" for the scenes that include Sainte-Marie and Bilstad, as well as Grace C Renn and Kim Snyder, offer fresh insight into the life of their community and even become the brighter spots of the movie itself. This in turn allow these actresses to show audiences how talented they truly are.
For teachers who wish to include video supplementary material for their classes, this movie should be your first pick. However be warned that some of your students may fall asleep. Despite what the publicity for this movie may suggest, Brosnan does not play an action hero.
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