The Education of Little Tree (1997) Poster

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beautyfull ,touching story
okoolo30 April 2002
a very touching journey of a little indian boy to discover his place in the world.This is a perfect movie without pretense ,political correctness just the way life is ... I recommend this movie to anyone big or small you will not be disapointed.

we see simple people leading simple life with their own laws and rules often viewed "immoral" by others and the law. This is one of the aspects movie that I really liked ,way it`s show that many of the "laws" society imposes on us are merciless ,unjust and have no basis in reality of people forced upon.
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Education of Little Tree
geoff-26225 October 2005
Despite comments that the author of the book from which this film comes may have had racist tendencies the tale sets out to show the prejudices in us all. The actors, particularly, Joseph Ashton (Little Tree) are adorable as if they are right out of a patchwork quilt. I don't mean to diminish the impact of this film by that comment. James Cromwell and Tantoo Cardinal as the grandparents set out to bring up the young by letting him learn by his own mistakes. The State, as always, has to interfere and its perhaps here that the boy's education really begins. The Appallachan scenery is jaw dropping and adds to the atmosphere that pervades from start to finish. THis a story to curl up with on the sofa on a cold, wet afternoon. It pulls at your heart strings and also has you smiling at tender moments. There is even one great belly laughing scene. I first saw this on U.K. TV and immediately ordered it on video. It's certainly in my top ten films of all time.
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An excellent, magical film
adh2357 April 2000
I have just finished watching the Education of Little Tree. I have to say it was a rare and magical film. It is a very simple story, that had me fixed to the screen. The acting is fluid and easy to watch, especially Joseph Ashton, who for someone so young, was just so real in the part of Little Tree. The photography was great, and had an almost dream like quality. A film that I am so glad to have seen.
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Highly recommended, 4 thumbs way up
plum-63 January 1999
It is too bad that movies like this are not more widely publicized and seen. This movie has far more redeeming qualities and is better for the soul and heart than any blood and gore action packed swear and nudity fest flick. I would even go one better and recommend the book, because although the movie is fairly true the book has alot more that cannot be covered in a 2 hr movie.

The actors are very good, Graeme Green is wonderful as always.

This movie should be nominated for an Oscar, but of course it won't because stories about Native Americans are not nominated, or seen by the movie going public.
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A mixed race child faces challenges growing up in the South in the 1920's
dxndmom-130 August 2006
My husband had told me about this movie for years, and when he rented it I was skeptical, at best since he's not known for his taste in films, television, or music. The movie takes place in the Applachian Mountains where I live. It's almost the story of my husband's family, they are a mix of Blackfoot, Crow, Cherokee, and several other tribes. After seeing the film, I truly understand what they've had to endure over the years. It also makes me think of the crimes that people commit on other people, all in the name of making a group "fit in". The young boy, "Little Tree" did not ask to be born into a family who has both white and Cherokee parents. In the 1920's this was a crime that was beyond forgiveness. The grandparents are also a "mixed" couple, they raise the boy and he is wise beyond his years thanks to them! This move will make you cry, laugh, think, and rejoice. I have to say, that it's even better than MY all time favorite, The Wizard Of Oz! RENT IT, BUY IT, LOVE IT!!!!! THE very best movie I've seen in years!!!!!

P.S. Have PLENTY of tissue on hand!!!
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A great movie that will make you think
doc77-215 January 2000
I first saw this movie when it was on cable while i was doing something else, but i was soon riveted to the screen. And have since watched it twice more. Don't know about the book but this is a powerful film, although i am not quite sure why. Maybe because it tells the story from such a different perspective than most of us tend to look at things. This movie has no big stars or recognizable (to me) faces but many memorable scenes, especially the one with the little boy and girl. Definitely worth watching.
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Good portrayal of how hard life was for Native kids in those days.
BigLaxFan941 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I found this film to be very accurate in that life for Native kids was extremely harsh in those days. It was just too disheartening for them who weren't allowed to speak their own language, practice their traditional ways, at the schools, in front of the teachers, not even when they were all alone sleeping in their dorms! Even if they were caught whispering in their own language in the dorms at night, that earned them the strap. Go figure! It was REALLY THAT BAD!! The biggest question will always remain ...... why the hell were the oppressors so afraid of Native folks and their ways?? Was it so bad for Natives to simply just live their lives in peace without being hassled all the time by white people?!?! I think this is some kind of curse against the First Nations! No other race on Earth has the kind of problems that Native people have thanks to you know who! Trust me when I say this .... no joking here.... I don't think this curse will ever go away in our lifetimes. Who knows if it'll EVER go away! But.... ANYWAYS..... that's my scoop on this film and why I gave it a 7 out of 10.
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A good-looking film drowned beneath stereotypes and shameless bad acting.
BERSERKERpoetry3 May 2010
I'm a big fan of simple films for their ability to distill basic humanity on screen, but "The Education of Little Tree" crosses the line into simplistic. The acting is way too much of the "golly, gee-whiz!" variety for my taste. The good guys are GOOD, the bad guys are BAD. The bad guys litter, and do obvious "bad guy stuff". The characterizations are so clear and flat that they border on the insipid. Nearly every minor role is a stereotype we've all seen a hundred times before. The preacher, the teacher, and the politician are all examples of laziness on the part of the director. Richard Friedenberg hasn't the slightest concept of subtlety, letting each and every performance go way off the deep end. Even the children (who seem to have been picked for cuteness only) wander their way through with mouths agape in a grotesque mockery of real emotions. There are a couple great actors here, though. James Cromwell and Graham Greene are a welcome sight, and there's nothing particularly at fault with their performances. Cromwell, especially, deserves a better film.

The clichés keep coming as the film progresses. The old "magic Indian" idea is brought up again, something that seems to appear in the majority of such films - and states that all members of the native population must be wise storytellers and able to appear and disappear at will. The one good point is the cinematography, by Anastas Michos. This is a very nice looking film, if nothing else. It could almost be worthwhile as a silent collection of moving photographs. That's just about all it has to offer in the end.
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Beautiful movie lost in the big studio shuffle
Lenny-1815 November 1998
I thought this movie was beautiful and moving. Fantastic acting by James Cromwell and Tantoo Cardinal. I think the movie got lost amongst the big studio dribble. Too bad. There should be more movies like this.
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Touching movie.
ledford_259 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
It was very interesting to see a movie depicting the aftermath of ethnic cleansing of a people in the Great Depression and their life lessons taught to a young man of both worlds. The hatred and goodwill of the few remaining Cherokee in the mountains of North Carolina is reflected both by the dirt poor white trash and the white friends that the young man encounters. He learns valuable lessons of love, loyalty and sadness. As a Cherokee who grew up in the same mountains in the 50's with a white grandmother and a full blood grandfather, I felt a kinship as the lessons that I learned have guided me and allowed me to view people as they are. It's too bad that the author of the original book was a virulent racist and a member of the KKK and the story is a stereotypical sham.
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Same old, same old
ntfrenk25 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I'll give this movie two stars because it teems with beautiful photography. Otherwise, it teems mainly with clichés and stereotypes: mountain people are either dumb white trash of the fanatically religious or ragged racist kind, or wise white Indians. Indians are magical people who move around without a sound, can disappear in the blink of an eye, talk to animals, and read minds over large distances. And so on and so forth.

Throughout the movie I kept wondering what the point of the film was (other than showing me pretty pictures of mountains, log cabins, woods, an assortment of animals, free-spirited mountain-dwellers and freaky people in church).

The plot touched a whole range of issues but explored none of them in depth. This was neither a story about growing up during the depression, nor about about being an orphan, nor about a struggle for identity. It tried to be all of those things and more, which made it superficial and unsatisfactory.

Although the movie was supposed to be about Little Tree's education, we learn almost nothing about it. He was given a brief summary of the history of his people (who were brave and stoic) and a distillery demonstration; tried his hand at chopping wood (at which he failed) and whiskey running (literally); learned how to read (and maybe to write) with the help of grandma and her dictionary - and that was it. Apparently he didn't learn much during his stint in boarding school because he was locked up in the attic.

However, grandma and grandpa and Graham Greene's character made sure that in the end Little Tree became a very spiritual person whose main goal as an adult - after, and I'm paraphrasing here, "riding with the Navajos" and "getting caught up in a couple of wars" - was to "catch up" with grandma and grandpa and Graham Greene's character in heaven (instead of, say, dating girls, getting married, having children or other such nonsense).

Last but not least I must say that I found grandpa's trade offensive. Why of all things did it have to be a whiskey still? To counteract the stereotype of the "drunken Indian"?
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Sweetly Sentimental; Beautiful Scenery; Just Not Much of a Story, Unevenly Told
mobile70730 November 2009
I loved the novel and wanted so much to love the movie, too. And it does have some lovable parts. But all-in-all, I am sorry to say, the movie is let down by (1) the incredibly syrupy portrait (diabetics beware) of the Cherokee; (2) the ponderous tones of the narrator (Little Tree as an adult looking back, much like John Boy on "The Waltons"); and (3) the much-too-broad portrayals of the white characters (James Cromwell aside), ranging from despicable to oblivious. Watch out in particular for some hardcore stereotypes when the Preacher gets wound up in the little church, when the Politician stops by and makes a speech about the "Jews and the Catholics," and when Little Tree encounters a trio of white "lawmen" in the woods.

Left totally unexplained is why -- if, as the story implies, the deck is perpetually stacked for the white, against the Cherokee -- a 1/4-Cherokee child would be taken from his white relatives (against their wishes), and given to the Cherokee side of the family. A quite curious omission for a story in which the Cherokee/white distinction is a central -- in some ways, THE central -- theme. Passed over in similar silence is why -- if the white-man's church is such a festering sore of hypocrisy and hysteria (and it is definitely portrayed that way, with all the subtlety of the Three Stooges) -- Little Tree's grandparents (and Willow John) choose to attend it, much less why they would want the young boy himself exposed to it at such a formative age (the ninth year of his life).

It is quite improbable, bordering on incredible, that a 1/4 Cherokee child, born in rural east-Tennessee of 1927, would not have been given a name at least partly "American" (either first, middle, or last). Yet that is the necessary implication of the scene in which the Indian School headmaster peremptorily strips Little Tree of his "Indian name" and pronounces his new, "American name" to be Joshua. Otherwise, he could have reclaimed the "American name" he had prior to, or in addition to, Little Tree. At any rate, the audience is left to sort this out on its own.

I know what I have said up til now is quite harsh, so let me add that the performances by James Cromwell, Graham Greene, and Tantoo Cardinal are all outstanding. The scenes of the mountain-type men gathered in Jenkins' Store in "the settlement" are nicely played, as are the domestic scenes in and around the grandparents' cabin in the hills. The music and scenery are beautiful, and finally the the child-actor Joseph Ashton is splendid in the title role. He was apparently 10 years old at time of filming, and his performance is thoroughly credible from start to finish.
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Read it!!!
jtur883 January 2001
I didn't even know that this book had been filmed, until I stumbled across it on cable. The movie is hokey, mostly, but the story is so incredibly powerful that it is worthwhile, no matter how it is conveyed. The book is on my all-time top-20 list. The film is not. But it is still worth seeing, for it does represent the social facts of life encountered by Forrest Carter, as described in this autogiography.
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I think this film could have been better
Mothy-323 November 1999
The Education of Little Tree was a very well crafted film but I found some of the plot disappointing. We're supposed to wish that little tree stay with his grandparents forever, but the way they were raising him made it impossible for me to do so. Why should I want him to be able to stay with grandparents who preach hatred for white people and teach him disrespect for the law and how to make moonshine in a hidden mountain still. Seems to me this would make a misfit in society who is bound to end up in jail.
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Love Little Tree
waasookwe-510-7088124 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is so calm & spiritual. The mountains, the music, the slow easy way of life this family shares. I love the way Grandma deals with her grandson Little Tree. She teaches him what she knows with grace & patience. Little Tree is very blessed to have his Grandma & her brother Willow John show him his heritage. And Grandpa is a wonderful character. From his moon-shining business to his rescuing Little Tree from that stupid boarding school, Grandpa had my heart. Every time I need to slow down from this crazy world, I watch Little Tree. And dream of the beautiful life they share in those beautiful mountains - yeah....calms me down.
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Weak compared to book
Brett-114 October 1998
The movie was disappointing. The book was powerful. The views and the learning of Little Tree were powerfully portrayed in the book. The movie just coasted along and finally dribbled away. Still a nice tale for kids.
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Morally Unsound
staupitz8 August 2005
The Education of Little Tree is just not as good as it could have been. Little Tree's education is about things like the circle of life and how you should look at a star to help you. Whatever happened to the three R's? Readin' 'Ritin' and 'Rithmetic? When the idiot back talks the teacher at the boarding school place he starts crying and talking to the sky. Oh my gosh. Sure, the lady was a little harsh, but then James Cromwell's character comes and takes him away, leaving the audience thinking that Little Tree was absolutely right. He should learn to adapt to new discipline. Those were the times! Talking to a star is not going to change a thing! Little Tree needs to learn that his adoring guardians are not always right.
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Fine acting in nice story
SnoopyStyle4 November 2014
It is 1935 in the mining town of Jericho City, Tennessee. Little Tree (Joseph Ashton) lost his mother a year after his father died in the Army. His grandparents (James Cromwell, Tantoo Cardinal) take him away from his white trash Aunt Martha into their mountain home. They live an Indian life. He makes moonshine whiskey with his good friend Cherokee Willow John (Graham Greene). Little Tree befriends a little girl (Mika Boorem). They face discrimination from the powerful and racism from everybody. Eventually the authorities force Little Tree into a residential school where they rename him Joshua.

It is a little distressing to find out the authorship of the book. However I can't actually find any deliberate racism in the movie. It's a fine little movie but not that compelling. The little kid is fine. Cromwell is great as always. It's about their relationship and it's a nice little story about that.
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Great Movie
tommyhwang9522 January 2013
Seriously one of the best movies I've seen, the storyline the acting work well with each other and the scenery enhances the viewers experience, although the movie may have some backlash about the author, it should not ruin or degrade this movie. The story of one boy finding his sense of belonging through family and heritage. Its a great movie filled with tears, laughter, education and many more.

I recommend watching it at least once by yourself as there is a lot to take in and to think about, one can reflect on his/her own life while watching it, although I'd recommend a certain age limit as there is need of a much wider understand and perspective which can only be seen through maturity and knowledge. Nevertheless a great movie to enjoy with family and friends.
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