A young mixed-blood FBI agent is assigned to work with a cynical veteran investigator on a murder on a poverty-stricken Sioux reservation.

Director:

Michael Apted

Writer:

John Fusco
2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Val Kilmer ... Ray Levoi
Sam Shepard ... Frank Coutelle
Graham Greene ... Walter Crow Horse
Fred Ward ... Jack Milton
Fred Thompson ... William Dawes (as Fred Dalton Thompson)
Sheila Tousey ... Maggie Eagle Bear
Ted Thin Elk Ted Thin Elk ... Grandpa Sam Reaches (as Chief Ted Thin Elk)
John Trudell ... Jimmy Looks Twice
Julius Drum Julius Drum ... Richard Yellow Hawk
Sarah Brave Sarah Brave ... Maisy Blue Legs
Allan R.J. Joseph Allan R.J. Joseph ... Leo Fast Elk
Sylvan Pumpkin Seed Sylvan Pumpkin Seed ... Hobart
Patrick Massett ... Agent Mackey
Rex Linn ... FBI Agent
Brian A. O'Meara Brian A. O'Meara ... FBI Agent
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Storyline

An FBI man with Sioux background is sent to a reservation to help with a murder investigation, where he has to come to terms with his heritage. Slowly he rejects the intimidating tactics of his fellow FBI agents, who are not so interested in solving the crime as covering up an incriminating situation with the locals, and as he becomes more tuned to his heritage, the locals begin trusting him. Based on actual Reservation occurrences of the '70s. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Two men from different worlds. Two cops after the same killer. Together they must uncover the secrets. Together they must discover the truth.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, and for some areas of violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Two hundred and fifty Native Americans worked as extras on the movie. See more »

Goofs

After Maggie Eagle-Bear's son is shot in the arm, the volume and pattern of blood covers nearly his entire upper arm. In the next camera shot, the volume of blood is significantly less and a different pattern. In the third camera shot, the blood volume returns to the same as the first shot. See more »

Quotes

Ray Levoi: This land is not for sale!
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Alternate Versions

The version prepared by Tristar for commercial television showing featured 270 separate cuts, removing 22 minutes of footage. To shorter the film even further, the film was time-compressed to gain an additional 4 minutes, and the credits speeded-up to lose another 2 minutes. Director Michael Apted asked to have his name removed from the mutilated TV version, or have a disclaimer shown before the title credits, stating that he disowned that version. After legal litigation, Tristar opted to remove Apted's name and credit the TV version to pseudonymous director Alan Smithee. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Big Hit (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Badlands
Written and Performed by Bruce Springsteen
Courtesy of Columbia Records
by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
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User Reviews

 
Apted's best outing as a director
22 May 2000 | by ipswich-2See all my reviews

Michael Apted has had a few indifferent movies, but Thunderheart is in my view his best. Apted spotlights the tribal Indian community in Badlands, South Dakota, exploring the mysticism of the Sioux culture and examining the impact of its forced co-existence with the modern American way of life. This juxtaposed mix of two cultures is best exemplified by Val Kilmer, who plays a young, brash and cocky FBI investigator with Sioux blood sent "back home" to investigate a homicide.

The murder investigation proves to be the tip of the iceberg, revealing a greater conspiracy to steal the land away from the Sioux. There is a surreal edge to the movie throughout, balanced well with an engaging and gripping story line. Kilmer is at his best here, aided well by a great supporting cast. The action was thick and fast, surrounded by an aura of mystical magic that was best supplied by James Horner's thumping soundtrack. For two hours I was enthralled. This is an excellent movie.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Sioux

Release Date:

3 April 1992 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Thunderheart See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,507,425, 5 April 1992

Gross USA:

$22,660,758

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$22,660,758
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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