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David James Elliott
An epic tale of two figures during the American colonization of the west, one white and the other Native American. Jacob Wheeler leaves his dull life behind to strike out west, while Loved By the Buffalo faces his destiny to try to fight a prophecy that his people will be wiped out by the settlers. Jacob marries Loved By the Buffalo's sister Thunder Heart Woman, uniting the two families while around them relations between the two races crumble. Written by
To tell the story of the "West" you have to cover a period as long as the life of one man, but no one person ever experienced everything. Instead this mini series tells the story of a family. Some reviews have said two families, one The Wheelers, Wheelrights from West Virginia and the Lokato Indians, but they are related marriage.
The problem with telling the story of the West is that most of time it was grueling hardship, and not exciting action. What was recorded in people's letters and journals were these simple hard facts of life, while the myth makers, story tellers and newsmen made the west something it never was.
So since "Dances with Wolves" historical westerns tend towards the slower pace of life of the time. Of course this is accompanied by sweeping panoramic camera shots and a stirring sound track.
It starts by telling the story in two ways, one from the point of view of "The White Man" and other in terms of dreams and mysticism of the Indian people. But it doesn't go behind the facade of Indian story telling methodology or stay true to that methodology.
It all adds up to slightly disappointing tale, yet one that manages for maybe the first time I know of, to personalize much of the story that made up "The West". From the trail blazers, to the cover wagons of the first settlers, to Californian gold rush, building the railroad, and of course the Indian wars and massacres.
This is perhaps a goal so high, that if the film makers failed to hit their mark, the achievement is still of note.
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