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Smoke Signals (1998)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Drama | 26 June 1998 (USA)
Young Indian man Thomas is a nerd in his reservation, wearing oversize glasses and telling everyone stories no-one wants to hear. His parents died in a fire in 1976, and Thomas was saved by... See full summary »

Director:

Writers:

(book), (screenplay)

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11 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Evan Adams ...
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Suzy Song
...
...
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Young Victor Joseph
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Young Thomas Builds-the-Fire
Monique Mojica ...
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Chief Leonard George ...
Lester Fallsapart (as Leonard George)
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Junior Polatkin
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Boo
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Velma
...
...
Cathy the Gymnast
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Storyline

Young Indian man Thomas is a nerd in his reservation, wearing oversize glasses and telling everyone stories no-one wants to hear. His parents died in a fire in 1976, and Thomas was saved by Arnold. Arnold soon left his family (and his tough son Victor), and Victor hasn't seen his father for 10 years. When Victor hears Arnold has died, Thomas offers him funding for the trip to get Arnold's remains, but only if Thomas will also go with him. Thomas and Victor hit the road. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A new film from the heart of Native America.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some intense images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

26 June 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$43,574 (USA) (26 June 1998)

Gross:

$6,719,300 (USA) (16 October 1998)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Irene Bedard and Michelle St. John both have roles in the film. They also co-starred in Disney's Pocahontas, where Bedard voiced Pocahontas and St. John voiced her best friend Nakooma. See more »

Goofs

There is no way that one bus driver could have driven the same bus continuously from Idaho to Arizona. Federal law would prohibit it. See more »

Quotes

Thomas Builds-the-Fire: You know there are some children who aren't really children at all, they're just pillars of flame that burn everything they touch. And there are some children who are just pillars of ash, that fall apart when you touch them... Victor and me, we were children of flame and ash.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Any similarity to actual persons, living, dead, or indigenous, is purely coincidental. See more »

Connections

Featured in Moyers & Company: Living Outside Tribal Lines (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

A Million Miles Away
Written and Performed by Jim Boyd
Lyrics by Sherman Alexie
Courtesy of Thunderwolf Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Amazingly misunderstood
24 November 2002 | by (Penn Yan, NY) – See all my reviews

I have read some of Sherman Alexie's work, although admittedly not "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven." I don't want to ruin a movie that I enjoyed so thoroughly by loving the book more. In any case, I think that this film is largely misunderstood. Non-Indian people tend to look at this film as a "coming of age" story about finding Victor finding not only his father, but himself as well. Yes, that's there, but there is so much more. For example: the very real and very sad quality of life on the rez. The ones who are fortunate enough to have a car don't care if it drives in reverse only. The kids watch their parents drinking, and often grow up to drink with them. Alcoholism is a very real disease that affects everyone associated with an alcoholic...and it runs rampant throughout many reservations. Imagine knowing that once you had so much, and now are only allotted a certain patch of a certain number of acres; imagine knowing that more than half of your history was oral tradition and people made you stop speaking your native language. Imagine the elders watching the children grow up to try to be white and fail, and imagine them watching their history slip away with every word or nuance forgotten. Imagine the desperation of a people as a whole and individually to have so much and really have nothing at all. That, I believe, is the underlying theme in Smoke Signals. The title alone is a cryptic message from Alexie: smoke signals were used to communicate across open plains, plains now destroyed and whithered as though a fire raged across them, which it did in the form of the white man. Victor's father died in a fire, perhaps sending his spirit up in the form of a smoke signal to his gods. And Thomas' narration at the beginning is about children born of fire and ash. Watch this movie again and again, and see how so many suffer...


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