A documentary about the evolution of the depiction of First Nations people in film, from the silent era to today. Featuring clips from hundreds of films, candid interviews with famous Native and non-Native directors, writers and actors, Reel Injun traces how the image of First Nations people in cinema have influenced the understanding and misunderstanding of their culture and history. Written by
It has some wonderful points to make but sometimes uses bad film interpretation to make a few of these points.
It's important that you understand that this film IS directed by Neil Diamond. However, it is NOT the Neil Diamond that middle-aged ladies love to listen to but just someone with the same name. Do NOT approach the singer and congratulate him on this movie--he'll probably think you are a nut! This film is about the depictions of Native Americans in film and the stereotypes that you'll see in them. The film has some wonderful facts that really are interesting. It also has a really, really good point to make--that too often, they are treated as a monolithic group and not as people. Both the ridiculously noble as well as the crazed, blood-thirsty killer image are one-dimensional and really miss the mark. The film does a GREAT job in pointing this out and featured tones of wonderful interviews and clips of films with positive depictions.
While I heartily recommend the film, I do have one big gripe with it. While it does not destroy the overall message at all, I really disliked how the film unfairly maligned John Ford and John Wayne by making a very broad over-generalization. While there was SOME truth that Wayne popularized killing 'Indians' in film, he and Ford did NOT create this myth of the evil native. In fact, several times Ford and Wayne made films that said the exact opposite. Yet, oddly, the film used one of these wonderfully sympathetic films to try to prove its case--a situation where the film makers either really did NOT see the film or they deliberately misrepresented it. They showed many clips from "The Searchers" and pointed out that Wayne was popularizing the evil Indian myth. This is the exact opposite of the meaning of this film. Wayne plays a man who is crazed--who is obsessed with killing these people. And, he is clearly BAD and the film condemns him for this!!! Also, other examples where Wayne and Ford made the natives real sympathetic people are also ignored in the film--a great example being "Fort Apache"--where Wayne argues with his commanding officer--insisting that the natives be treated with respect and honesty. To me, their anti-Ford/anti-Wayne argument is SOMETIME correct (such as in "Stagecoach") and sometimes not---and is, oddly, a case of stereotyping. Next time, think through your film analysis better--it would have made this a perfect or near-perfect documentary. Instead, it can detract from the film when the viewer is savvy concerning these films.
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