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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
When we watched the Indians getting slaughtered at the end of every movie... well, my brother would refuse to watch it. Every time that bugle went off and the charge started, my brother - he was a year and a half younger than me - he'd go like this...
[bending over, head between knees]
...and he wouldn't look. He wouldn't watch. And we'd come out of those theaters after the, uh, cavalry had rescued the white people, and all of a sudden we'd hear, "There's those Indians," and we'd start fighting....
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(I originally intended this to be a discussion post, but I figured it was more of a review, so that's why it's here) I came here hoping to see via the MovieConnections which films were referenced, so I could remember to seek out certain ones that intrigued me, particularly from the silent era. However, this film doesn't seem to get many viewers, and that section remains empty so far.
This film can currently be seen on CBC's website for "The Passionate Eye", in the section for viewing online. I'm not sure how long it will be there, but it's been there at least for a week or two. There are some annoying and painfully loud commercials inserted in it (if Dove thinks this will make me their customer, they should be aware it's having the opposite effect on me, and I'm switching to store brands) but if you can ignore those, it's a good way to see it. (EDIT: Actually, this is NOT a good way to see it, if you have any other choice. They seem to have cut about 10-15 minutes from the film, as they appear to have done for most or all films they currently have online. There's no excuse for chopping up someone's work and representing it as the real thing. Shame on them.)
I agree with both of the previous IMDb reviews. I was very surprised to learn about the varied history of native American "Injuns" on screen. But at the same time I felt that the narrator posed questions he didn't answer, and the travelling metaphor simply didn't work. Still, I give it an 8/10 for being crammed with information. I think with some additional work, it could be re-edited and expanded into a new film that could be 9 or 10.
I've seen almost no films prior to late 1960's, having native American characters. But I have seen some of the more recent films they mentioned. I did like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Dances With Wolves, Smoke Signals, and Black Robe, but did not think much of Little Big Man, and I was bored almost to death by Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner). That one is probably loved for historical purposes, and a lack of competition, but it's bad cinema.
Probably the best film I've seen where the main characters are native American would be Ce qu'il faut pour vivre (The Necessities of Life). But maybe it was too recent to be included in Reel Injun.
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