Undoing Stereotypes in the Movie, Dances With Wolves
Hollywood has helped create and perpetuate many different stereotypical images of the different races in the world. Those stereotypes still continue to affect the way we think about each other today and many of those stereotypes have been proven to be historically inaccurate. The movie Dances With Wolves, directed by actor Kevin Costner, does an excellent job in attempting to promote a greater acceptance, understanding, and sympathy towards Native American culture, instead of supporting the typical stereotype of Native Americans being nothing but brutal, blood thirsty savages.
The film Dances With Wolves focuses mainly on one man named Jon Dunbar and his growing relationship with the Lakota Sioux Indian tribe. The Lakota Sioux Indian tribe migrated in the 1700's to different areas in South Dakota. For over one hundred and sixty years, the Lakota tribe held a massive piece of land in the plains to support their numerous herds of bison, which they also hunted in order to survive. They lived in the typical teepees and were exceptional horsemen, hunters, and warriors. They culture contained no written language and their heritage was trusted upon storytellers and drawings made on the bison hides. One bison hide could represent over fifty years of Lakota history.
The film, Dances With Wolves, was very cleverly written in my opinion. For most of the introduction, before John Dunbar begins to get friendly with the Sioux Indians, you are given an emotional expression of hatred and dislike towards the Native American Indians as they are slowly introduced into the script. There were a few scenes of brutality and savagery that triggered these emotions. For example, there was a scene when the Pawnee Indian tribe attacked a man named Timmons, as he was on his way home from Dunbar's military base. He was first shot with about four or five arrows until he was hanging on to life by a thread and then they scalped him. You then see the Pawnee Indians carrying off their new "trophy", which was a piece of Timmons' head. Another scene was when the camera first introduced the Indians into the movie by focusing in on a human skeleton that had an arrow stuck in the abdomen. Through scenes such as these, we are given an impression that the stereotypes about Indians being savages were indeed true. These ideas are changed as the movie begins to take a 180-degree turn and begins to focus on helping the viewer understand what the Indians were really all about.
The Lakota tribe was very humane and had fairly strong familial bonds. It wasn't easy to be accepted by their tribe at first but once you were accepted then you were considered to be one of the family. In the film, Jon Dunbar tries to make friends with the Lakota Indians but is unsuccessful at first. Being a very persistent and kind hearted man he slowly gains the acceptance of the tribe. The first witness of this is when some tribesmen pay a visit...