Books and Movies Reviews

Dances with Wolves

Without question Kevin Costner is one of the most astute directors when it comes to the use of open space. He has a way of making a viewer feel small in the large scale of the location. Several of the camera's pans of the wide open prairie territory with its long, yellow grass and rolling hills makes a person feel fully enraptured in the scenery.
"Where the Cowboy Rides Away: Mythic Places for Western Film" by Gary Hausladen discusses just such a landscape. He says, "And the setting for these stories was the American West, those'particular, picturesque American landscapes' that enhance the confrontations and transformations that take place."
Dances with Wolves is a perfect representation of man versus nature in that it shows a "city boy" who is forced to learn how to survive on the frontier, and he tames it as is symbolized by his befriending of the wolf. Also symbolized by this friendship is man's ability to have harmony with nature, instead of conquering it. This idea is vanquished with the death of the wolf at the hands of a soldier.
Somewhat evident as well is man versus technology in that the Indians are eventually killed off by a technology that they neither have nor embrace-that of the gun. What was formally enough to protect oneself, such as arrows and knives, has now become null and void considering you can be enumerable feet away from a man and still shoot him. Another way that this is addressed is through Costner's mental breakdown while in the army, a situation that eventually pushes him in the opposite direction of technology-the frontier. There is a huge message encoded throughout this film, and I read it as saying, "Technology is the death of true civilization."
Most of all though, the movie is a sadly truthful perspective on the colonization that occurred in America during and after our revolt against the suppression of


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