Lieutenant John Dunbar, assigned to a remote western Civil War outpost, befriends wolves and Indians, making him an intolerable aberration in the military.

Director:

Kevin Costner

Writers:

Michael Blake (screenplay), Michael Blake (novel)
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Popularity
491 ( 144)
Won 7 Oscars. Another 44 wins & 38 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kevin Costner ... Lieutenant Dunbar
Mary McDonnell ... Stands With A Fist
Graham Greene ... Kicking Bird
Rodney A. Grant ... Wind In His Hair
Floyd 'Red Crow' Westerman ... Ten Bears (as Floyd Red Crow Westerman)
Tantoo Cardinal ... Black Shawl
Robert Pastorelli ... Timmons
Charles Rocket ... Lieutenant Elgin
Maury Chaykin ... Major Fambrough
Jimmy Herman ... Stone Calf
Nathan Lee Chasing His Horse Nathan Lee Chasing His Horse ... Smiles A Lot
Michael Spears ... Otter
Jason R. Lone Hill Jason R. Lone Hill ... Worm
Tony Pierce Tony Pierce ... Spivey
Doris Leader Charge Doris Leader Charge ... Pretty Shield
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Storyline

Lt. John Dunbar is dubbed a hero after he accidentally leads Union troops to a victory during the Civil War. He requests a position on the western frontier, but finds it deserted. He soon finds out he is not alone, but meets a wolf he dubs "Two-socks" and a curious Indian tribe. Dunbar quickly makes friends with the tribe, and discovers a white woman who was raised by the Indians. He gradually earns the respect of these native people, and sheds his white-man's ways. Written by Greg Bole <bole@life.bio.sunysb.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Lt. John Dunbar is about to discover the frontier...within himself. See more »


Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

All in all, Kevin Costner spent five years and thousands of dollars of his own money working on the film, having to turn down multiple major film roles (including The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), Dick Tracy (1990), The Hunt for Red October (1990) and, Presumed Innocent (1990)) while facing ridicule for what was seen as a vanity project. See more »

Goofs

One of the wolves can be seen wearing a choke collar. See more »

Quotes

[Repeated line]
Timmons: [after they have reached an abandoned fort] There ain't nothing here, lieutenant.
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Alternate Versions

The 236-minute "extended version" or "Director's Cut" has been released on home video, altering the movie as such:
  • 38 x new scene
  • 15 x extended scene
  • 12 x alternative footage
  • 5 x alternative text
  • 1 x new text
  • 3 x postponed scene
  • 3 x altered arrangement of scenes
  • 3 x shortened scene.
There is also a 233-minute version which cuts out the 3 minute Intermission at around 133 min featuring John Barry music. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Night Court: Pop Goes the Question (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Fire Dance
By Peter Buffett
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User Reviews

 
One of the great ones
27 August 2003 | by reporterman2000See all my reviews

People who say this movie is long and boring have obviously never sat through, oh, "Lawrence of Arabia," "Patton," "Doctor Zhivago," "The Godfather," "Ran," "Seven Samurai," or probably even "Braveheart." Thank God that not every filmmaker believes that a car must explode every 10 seconds in order for his movie to be a success. Kevin Costner is one of those directors who prefers the long format. David Lean, Francis Coppola and Mel Gibson, to name a very few, also worked in that format, and produced lasting works of art that also packed theaters. There are plenty of options for people who don't like movies that take the time to build character, drama and suspense, movies like "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," "Freddy Vs. Jason," and "Weekend at Bernie's." I don't think any of those movies has ever been called "boring," but they sure are crap cinema.

Onward. "Dances With Wolves" thrilled audiences way back in 1990 and made so darn much money precisely because people had forgotten the pleasures of the long narrative, the Western genre, and movies that weren't special effects schlock-fests. It remains an inspiring and moving experience, especially on DVD, which preserves the movie's theatrical sound and picture quality.

Costner's direction is first-rate. He's able to blend intimate drama with big, sprawling action that covers a huge canvas. I'm amazed at how smoothly the film segues from movement to movement -- action, alienation, suspense, social commentary, romance. Heck, Spielberg could take a lesson or two from this movie.

He also gets great performances out of his cast. I don't think of these people as actors, but as the characters they play. That's a compliment not just to the actors themselves, but their director. And, yes, Costner is terrific as John Dunbar.

Sure, it's easy to call "Dances" politically correct w/ reference to the Indians. But it also treats them as people and, better yet, as fictional characters whose lives are made part of a fascinating narrative. I just consider all the complaints about the politics of this movie as total hogwash.

Finally, the movie is beautifully shot, has an unforgettable score, and is very well-written. I've never thought of "Dances" as a Western, but a modern action picture/character study that avoids all the boring cliches of the Western genre. Here is a movie that stands for something, means something, and deserves at least as much respect as some of the overrated dreck we've gotten saddled with lately.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English | Sioux | Pawnee

Release Date:

21 November 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dances with Wolves See more »

Filming Locations:

Kansas, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$22,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$598,257, 11 November 1990

Gross USA:

$184,208,848

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$424,208,848
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (extended cut)

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby SR (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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