Dances with Wolves Review
Seen as something as a breakthrough for the Western genre on its original theatrical release (presumably by those unfamiliar with Westerns), Dances with Wolves hasn't quite stood the test of time as well as other modern classics of the genre such as Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven or Maggie Greenwald's The Ballad of Little Jo. Still, while it may not sit on the cutting-edge of film-making anymore, Costner does a good job with his directorial debut in attempting to refocus the genre and make amends for the treatment of the American Indians in the early days of the genre's history.
Costner plays Lt. John Dunbar, a man disillusioned by the American Civil War and attempts to commit suicide on the battlefield. However, his suicide bid is mistaken for an act of heroism, and in reward he is offered a transfer to the post of his choosing. His choice is to head out to the Western frontier, where he will be far removed from the whims and desires of 'civilisation'. After a period of isolation on the frontier, he meets up with his friendly Native American neighbours and slowly wins their respect as he begins his own transformation into a native. Along the way he goes hunting buffalo, falls in love with a white woman living at the Lakota Sioux camp, and helps out the friendly tribe in a battle with the down and dirty Pawnees.
The plot is hardly Shakespeare, and the film insults both us and the Native Americans on numerous occasions (yes it was brave of the filmmakers to allow the Sioux to use their own language throughout the film, but how pathetic is it that Costner's character falls in love with a conveniently available white woman at the camp?), but the sheer epic scale of the story and the way Costner (as director) manages to bring out so many impressive performances from his cast (including Costner the actor) means you will be relatively untroubled in gaining some form of entertainment for the film's 173min running time.
This isn't the longest version of the film available, but as the extended cut adds little apart from even more panoramic vistas to the film's running time, you aren't really missing anything important.