Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Man Called Horse

Last time I saw Elliot Silverstein's A Man Called Horse (1970), I was a little kid -- and I loved it. This time, turns out I still love it!  This movie does well in bringing its audience into the reconstructed world of the Sioux before the "Plains Wars."  By observing the representatives of three worlds (Anglo-American, Sioux and French or First Nation/French Canadian) in action together, we can see cross-culturally, like anthropologists. A Man Called Horse is a sort of hybrid cultural achievement in its own right, in that the Sioux are the main players, but two characters, John Morgan (Richard Harris) and Batise (Jean Gascon) open up a "dialogue" for non-Sioux viewers. I love in particular that the oft-spoken Sioux is not translated, so Morgan must try to figure out what is meant (with the help of Batise, usually). Some of the later plot points in the film are skewed and unfortunate, but overall, this is a cool flick, released within days of the very first Earth Day.
Rosebud Sioux were employed in the film. Shoshone parties are introduced as "natural enemies" of the Sioux, and there is no US military presence in the area during the events depicted.

Clyde D. Dollar served as history liaison. His papers are in the Archives of the University of Central Arkansas, 201 Donaghey Ave., Conway, AR  72035.  I'd love to peruse them. One file is called '“Hollywood and Its Indians: The Story of the Making of the Film A Man Called Horse,” by Clyde D. Dollar, 1971.'  Looks like he did a lot of historical and archaeological surveys and oral histories in Arkansas and elsewhere. For more about what's in his papers, here's a link: 

Today's Rune: Gateway.


Charles Gramlich said...

I read this book too, years ago. I no longer remember it if was much different from the movie. Did enjoy the movie, though.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Not sure I ever saw this one. Knee deep in babies about then.

jodi said...

Erik, A fish called Wanda? teehee!