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Dances with Wolves (1990)

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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
948 ( 373)
Won 7 Oscars. Another 44 wins & 37 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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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English | Sioux | Pawnee

Release Date:

21 November 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Danza con lobos See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$22,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$598,257, 11 November 1990, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$184,208,848

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$424,200,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (extended) | (director's cut) | (DVD special edition)

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39:1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Close to a million feet of film was shot in total. See more »

Goofs

When Dunbar brings Stands with a Fist into camp (after Dunbar found Stands mourning alone and injured) and Wind In His Hair takes Stands hand and drags her back to the people gathered at the edge of the camp. Problem is that her armpits are clean shaven and not only did that not occur at this point in history, it especially was not a habit of Native American Indians. See more »

Quotes

Sergeant Pepper: [at the inactive battlefield] Some of the boys are saying that if we ain't gonna fight we could just settle the whole business with a little high stakes poker. Wouldn't that be a sight... a bunch of fellas sitting in the middle of this field drawing cards...
See more »

Alternate Versions

The 236-minute "extended version" has been released on DVD, containing the scenes that were missing from most of the previous VHS releases. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Better Call Saul: Marco (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Fire Dance
By Peter Buffett
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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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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