Don Smith’s review published on Letterboxd:
I am perhaps irrationally attached to the Indians' cause - back in grade school, I loved the Indians and hated the White Man. I gave myself an Indian name.
Read "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," by Dee Brown.
One small chapter of that book deals with the subject of this movie, the Nez Perce flight through Idaho and Montana to escape inevitable extermination by the U.S. Army.
Chief Joseph made his famous remark at his inevitable surrender, as did Chief Logan, long before, in Ohio. I have been to see the Logan Elm in Ohio - it no longer exists:
"One day a party of Indians was camping at the mouth of Yellow Creek. Some white men were camping on the other side of the Ohio River. The Indians, consisting of five men, a woman and a babe, crossed over to the white camp. The whites gave them rum and when they had made them drunk, they killed them. The Indians on the other side of the stream, hearing the shooting, started over to see what was the matter. These were also shot. Among the killed were Logan's relatives: his father, brother, and sister.
Logan Elm State Memorial, along Highway 23 in central Ohio, is said to be the site where, in 1774, Chief Logan of the Mingo tribe delivered his eloquent speech on Indian-white relations. The speech was supposedly delivered under a large elm tree. "Considered to be one of the largest elms in the U. S., the tree stood 65 feet tall, with a trunk circumference of 24 feet and foliage spread of 180 feet. It died in 1964 from damage by blight and storms."
But enough about the extermination of Indians in Ohio. The noble Indians come off well in this movie. The murderous, treacherous White Man, less so. As I said, this movie took place in the West.
I watched this because it was named as one of Sam Elliott's best roles, when he recently died. He portrays Capt. Wood, who is sympathetic with the Indians' cause, and also speaks the language. Played against "One-Armed" General Howard, who also sympathizes with the Indians, but must do his duty.
The Indians, in this case, are truly Noble Savages, even when they kill white settlers in retribution. They speak perfect English. I was going to knock them as being portrayed by white actors, but the credits claim that is not the case. But they have truly misogynist views:
"My SON would have grown up to be a great warrior."
"A GIRL pleases me."
"Are we all MEN?"
"Do we make war on the rain?"
"Do we make war on the wind?"
But here is a truly important question. Throughout the movie, Sam Elliott displays his trademark handlebar mustache - completely black. Yet on the cover of the DVD, his trademark handlebar mustache is completely white. What's up with that?