This is a blog which primarily gives some attention to movies that I find were overlooked (for whatever reason) or are simply underrated. I also comment on other, mainly movie-related issues as well. I welcome any suggestions for films to be added to this distinguished list.

One word of warning: The films listed below contain spoilers, so caution during reading is required.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee (1994)

"After 73 days, the siege at Wounded Knee was over. Once we put down our guns and the television and the news reporters went home, the arrests began. They could say anything they wanted. Whatever we said was gone on a cold Pine Ridge wind. Here, where I found my life, my center, my people - where I found my first-born - nearly everything is gone now. The government tried to extinguish all signs that Indians once made their stand here. It will do them no good, because the world saw, the world heard. Even though, in time, Annie Mae Aquash and Pedro Bissionte were murdered by GOONS. Even though once again the government lied and betrayed us. Even though some of our leaders are still in jail, in the end it, will do them no good at all to try to hide it, because it happened. Today is still not ours but tomorrow might be because of that long moment those short years ago at Wounded Knee where we reached out and touched our history. I was there. I saw it. It happened to me. So that our people may live. So that our people may live."
-Mary Crow Dog.

Just before she endeared herself to children everywhere as the voice of Disney's Pocahantas(1995), Irene Bedard earned a Golden Globe nomination for her work as Mary Crow Dog in this film, which depicts the events leading to the 1973 standoff at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.
The title location was also the site of the massacre of hundreds of Sioux in 1890 when the U.S. government broke the treaty it had established with the tribe by announcing that gold was in the area and, subsequently, sent in forces led by General Custer to remove any Sioux.
Mary's part of the story begins with her at boarding school during the 1960s. She later obtains and promotes literature telling how tribes were horribly treated as white men pioneered America. This leads to Mary being expelled.
But she later meets people who are affiliated with the American Indian Movement, led by Russell Means (Lawrence Bayne) and Dennis Banks (Michael Horse). With AIM, Mary becomes a fierce advocate of Native American rights, which culminates with the title standoff that began Feb. 27 and lasted over two months. Over 200 AIM supporters were surrounded by the U.S. military.
During that time, many (Indians and otherwise) were drawn into the plight of AIM, whose supporters demanded the re-opening of treaty negotiations with the government.
The entire cast is excellent, but Bedard truly carries the movie with her transformation into someone who embraces who she is and will do all she can to keep her heritage alive. The real Mary, who wrote the book this film was based on, also makes an appearance. She died in 2013.
I must also mention Peter Weller's nice cameo as a Colonel who advises the military about the stupidity of another massacre at Wounded Knee.
The standoff ended with Banks and Means being arrested and brought to Washington, although the charges against them were later dismissed.
This event would also be mentioned when Marlon Brando famously refused to accept his Oscar for his work in The Godfather (1972).
This film reminded me somewhat of In the Name of the Father (1993) in that it has a protagonist who is both incarcerated and goes through great loss at the hands of a government but emerges from the ordeal more determined than ever.
In recent years, Bedard's career has been sidetracked by (this is the short version) personal issues, but films like this show that she can and should be regarded as a great artist.

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