Regardless of how people choose to categorize human beings, the resultant category often displays one unchanging constant. Such diverseness often leads to conflict because of different behavior within the categories. Irrespective of the diverse in beliefs and practice, these resultant categories have to find the way to co-exist. On this note, I examined different movies and books that focus on the issues of race, ethnicity, and culture in American, and came across the movie Dance with Wolves. I aim to review the movie, by exploring its content and shedding light on the main argument. In particular, the primary purpose is to focus on the intercultural themes in the film and how its storyline relates to everyday life. The film demonstrates Native American culture, and the collective consciousness of the American dominance thus promotes a greater understanding of the effect of categorization of people within the society.
Dance with Wolves is an American western film released in 1990 and was directed by Kelvin Costner (Costner, 1990). It has won widespread admiration particularly as in the seven academy award and golden globe award (Matheson, 2017). The movies is an adaptation of Michael Blake book written in 1988 with the same title (Matheson, 2017). It revolves around the life of Lieutenant John Dunbar who travels to the American frontier aiming to find a military post and then his dealings with the Native Americans. It begins with Dunbar wounded in the battle. When he realizes that his leg would be amputated, he chooses death in the battle over amputation; he takes his horse and rides up and along the battle front lines. Despite attempted shots, the Confederates failed to shoot him, get distracted and this way, he allows his side in the battle to attack the line. Dunbar survives the war, and he is recognized for his bravery. Due to his heroic act, Dunbar is offered a choice of posting. He requests to be sent to the western frontier, where the army commander assigns him to the most distant outposts.
When he arrives at the post, he is surprised to find it completely deserted, and in despair, nevertheless, he chooses to stay. He keeps a journal of his experience within the community. In this area, he makes friend with a wolf and gets to know the local tribes who accepts him but name him ‘Dance with Wolves. ‘ He also falls in loves with a woman in the local tribe, and when the white settlers move in the territory, Dunbar is forced to make hard choices; he has to decide to whom his allegiance belongs. He eventually departs into the wilderness to defend the community against the white dominance. However, he is consistently threatened, imprisoned, and hunted down until he and his wife decide to live. The striking epilogue at the end of the film reveals that the white American has taken the natives. The central theme of this film is about love and friendship, loyalty and racism. In particular, the movie shows the audience, the origin of racism in the United States, but also demonstrated the existing stereotype associated with the two conflicting groups. In particular, the movies expose the audience of the sharp contrast between peace and the thoughtful nature of human being in exercising dominance. In essence, this shows a substantial misunderstanding of Native American tribes and the white United States. It is however clearly depicted in the film that one of the reason one group exercise dominance to the other is because of miscommunication or lack of intercultural communication, which leads to intolerance to the other group.
The film depicts how communication barrier has led to warfare, bloodshed and even complete assimilation of the culture and their entire way of life. Dunbar chooses to act as an ambassador to the native Indian; his desire to create a channel of communication between the groups shows that the only way conflict could be resolved through a proper channel of communication. Dunbar is able to have a better relationship with the community because he understands their culture and their value, he is acting based on knowledge and experience; however, the white settlers are acting based on stereotype or generalization. Today, such stereotype and generalization have continued to hurt a various community, but this movie shows if the dominant community attempts to understand the other community and takes issues from their perspective, there could be understanding, and the society as a whole would be united as one. In my opinion, Dance with Wolves has shown an accurate sense of racism, particularly between the white men and Native Americans. It provides the audience with an opportunity to move from the comfortable world which was founded on the established stereotypes.
Arguably, the film may have exaggerated the stereotype between the two groups, but it has effectively begged the audience to deal with people from their perspective and from the position of knowledge as well as understanding rather than from ignorance that emerged with superiority. The movies have an ambition that is rare in many Hollywood cinemas. It is a captivating adventure and a thoughtful composition from filmmakers who understand the consequences of stereotyping and racism. The director seems to be savvy when taking sentimental and romantic chapters of Dunbar narrative and turn them into an education drama filled with vivid climaxes. Dance with Wolves may not be a formula film, but it has been carefully designed to deliver a certain theme and ultimately educating the audience about concerning issues within the society. This movie was produced more than thirty years ago, but the lesson deduced from it can still be applied today. It begs people to be open-minded, and see their shortcomings rather than point fingers to other people. Everyone could be a victim of generalization, this may not be associated with race as the film depicts, but it could be based on physical disability or based on certain behavior. The message of this movies is that everyone needs to appreciate others regardless of their race, culture, behavior, language or other differences. The barrier may exist between two people from different groups, but no one should feel superior without understanding other people.
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