Neither Wolf Nor Dog (2016)
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All of the actors did a wonderful job bringing the characters in the book to life on the big screen! David Bald Eagle was masterful! Looking into his eyes you could tell he is wise beyond his years with a hint of mischief. No one on this planet could have played Dan except David Bald Eagle.
This movie should be required watching for every person and I highly recommend it!
Well done Steven and the team for such a touching couple of hours as I was transported back to the novel and to get a gasp of some of the life my fellow Native American have.
Seeing the film I felt like I had a true glimpse of present day Native life, and another glance at what America has lost.
This is a remarkable film, especially knowing it was shot in just a few days on a threadbare shoestring budget with a handful of actors and crew - and yet every minute is so meaningful and alive.
The message that we can still help one another and work together to provide a beautiful world for our children's children has never been more needed....thank you to all involved for the reminder, which could save our lives and our planet, "We are all connected".
Well, I worried needlessly. Steven Lewis Simpson and Kent Nerburn collaborated to write a screenplay that, while adjusting to necessary film adaptation, has retained the message and the flavor of the original and is the beautiful, moving film I had hoped it would be.
The acting of every single actor is superb – it really would not have been the same with any one of them replaced with another. In particular, Christopher Sweeney as Nerburn and Richard Ray Whitman as Grover are exceptional. Zahn McClarnon's all-too-brief appearance is electric. And words are not sufficient to acclaim the work of Dave Bald Eagle. He is truly a treasure.
I highly recommend this film not only because the message is one that needs to be heard, but also because the film itself is extremely well-made and showcases the beauty of the country that is South Dakota. Well done to all participants – you should be proud of this fine work.
Simpson does a fantastic job adapting th version of the book to the big screen. The acting was great, and the cinematography was outstanding. I thought the script was very good too, but I felt it could have used a few more of the 'impactful scenes' in the book to have a touch more profoundness...(not that the ones in the movie don't)... but I understand, there's only so much you can take from a book and put into a 2 hour movie. Those are tough decisions to make, and overall.. it a great job was done!
All in all, this was a great movie, especially considering the timeframe/budget that they had to work with. Thanks Steven for putting your heart and soul into this and making it happen. You did a wonderful job.
From the moment we originally viewed the prospective trailer, we knew this project was special; after having discovered the Kickstarter campaign we knew we had to contribute what we could. We were being spoken to, from where we're not sure. Now, we've had the benefit of a special screening of the finished movie. It's not possible to find the words to express the impact on both our minds and Spirits, on our Beings! The story begins slowly, almost plodding, yet gradually intensifies to a magnificent crescendo produced by Dave Bald Eagle's powerful and penetrating soliloquy so surprising in its intensity that it literally sweeps over you. It is at precisely that point that the full meaning of it all crashes down creating the intense emotions that only facing such truth can produce.
The story behind "Neither Wolf nor Dog" was expertly interpreted by all of the cast, the cinematography skillfully executed, the scenes and setting masterfully selected, the editing beyond professional. In short it is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences and we've been so blessed to have had a small part in its creation.
Please see it when it comes to a theater near you. It's a story that needs telling by people who deserve the recognition.
That's what exudes from this film.
It's a movie told with love and you can see all the hard work and passion because it's right up there on the screen.
The novel, Neither Wolf Nor Dog, is one of my favorite books. Not only did I enjoy the story but I GREW from the story. It opened me up in ways that few pieces of literature have ever done before.
And this film is no different.
It the perfect accompaniment to the novel.
Because it gets right what so many adaptations get wrong - it matches the novel's heart rather than duplicate its story.
I honestly can't see how this film could be any better.
Go see it. Watch yourself grow too.
It starts off slowly, but that is to be expected and in doing so the film draws you into the world subtly. This is the second movie I have watched in the last several months that made me feel like I was watching a documentary more than a movie (the other movie was Loving). Everything felt so real! I felt like a fly on the wall simply watching Dan, Grover, and Nerburn. They felt like real people and not actors. The music, cinematography, use of sound, all of it coalesced to create this real world. It almost seemed like if I talked they would all be able to hear me.
I love movies and have several that engross me every time I watch, but only a select few (this and Loving) have hit me with how subtle and yet how very real they were. Watching this made the book come to life in a truly real way and it was wonderful. The slow pace worked perfectly as, like the book, you want to soak it all in and really hear and absorb what is going on and being talked about. Just like the book it leaves a lasting impression that ripples far beyond the end credits.
Like the book, there were moments that I found myself laughing out-loud one minute and shedding a tear the next. This was a beautiful tribute to the Lakota community.
Would love to see the next two books on the big screen.
The Depths of the South Dakota Land: The Drifting of Prairie Grasses, Sky and Clouds, Harsh Rain, Insect and Bird Songs, Prairie Dog Chatter, The Metal Pump Handle's Clang, Rock and Hills, and the Persistent Wind Stand Prominent in the Film. The Land is not the Backdrop but Where you place your feet and are Summoned into the Lives of Dan, A Lakota Elder, (Dave Bald Eagle) and Kent Nerburn (Christopher Sweeney). "Neither Wolf Nor Dog" is Honest, Awkward, Painful, Humorous, Reflective and Ultimately An Education of the Human Heart and Hopefully Our Hearts Also.
To Kent Nerburn & Steven Lewis Simpson: You, "Got It Just Right!"
Why? I could not imagine an actor that could portray Dan. Others maybe, but not him. It turns out the casting of all is perfect, but Dave Bald Eagle transcends acting, or role playing, and becomes Dan.
Another why... I had a hard time imagining how a screenplay could capture the themes of stillness and quiet that permeate the Kent Nerburn novel. It is every bit as much about place, the land, as it is the people, and the land is so open that almost the only sound is the wind.
During our screening not one person left the room, we never saw a phone screen light up, and no one even stirred until several seconds after the credits ended.
If you are a human who cares about humans, check it out. For people like me who grew up in South Dakota and now live in other areas, you'll want to check it out. For anyone who wants to learn more about the Native/European relationship, watch it. Just do. You don't need to read the book first, just find a way to watch it - at a theater or online. It's real. It's beautiful and it's honest. It's native and white. It's learning about learning about anyone you might view as "other" and particularly, of course, it's about the complicated relationships between Native people and those of European descent. I was anxious going into the theater. Knowing the book, I hoped it would be beautiful and powerful, but I was worried about the filmmaker - what if he screwed it up?!
... He didn't...It was better than I had ever imagined it could be. I grew up in South Dakota. That's where it takes place. The sounds, the land, the cars, the truth of filming of the South Dakota setting was profound to me. It took me right there - the gravel roads, the prairie, the rolling hills, the badlands, the shacks, the random, small museum in a near ghost town, the sounds of grasshoppers! - it's all there. You're right there in the midst of so much honesty.
The honesty of the story telling in the film is so gorgeous and heartbreaking and, at times, humorous - it's powerful. The truth of characters and the acting was profound. As it needed to be.
This story, having made its way out into the world again, for new and repeat audiences, morphed from paper to film media, is the kind of story that changes people - sometimes subtly, sometimes profoundly.
Grateful it's out in the media maelstrom again! When media makes a positive impact on the world, that's media to value. I every audience member left the theater as better person than they were before viewing the film.
I was a bit worried this might be another "white savior" film about Native Americans but rest assured it is anything but!
The way that reservation life is depicted, and the cluelessness the white man has about that culture, really gives a levity to the story. As a non-savior white person who used to work on a reservation I thought the filmmaker really nailed the tempo and rhythms of res life.
But just when you are sort of rolling along being amused by the white man fish-out-of-water the movie reveals its purpose and it is profound and moving. I really recommend watching this. Especially if you are white.