As always, Spoiler Alert
I’m tempted to say the fact that I fell asleep multiple times while watching Dances With Wolves is review enough. But a combination of advancing age and working night shift mean I almost never manage to stay awake through an entire film these days, so if I’m being honest, me nodding off isn’t entirely Dances With Wolves‘ fault.
It’s pretty close, though.
Now, I’m a sucker for westerns. My father loved them, and watching them together is one of a vanishingly small number of positive memories I have of him, so when a new one comes out, I tend to watch it. He always said he liked them more for the scenery than anything, and I’m sure his love of horses was a factor, as well. Dances With Wolves has both those things in big measure, so while I don’t remember for sure, I suspect my father likely enjoyed it.
But the things that appealed to my father didn’t do much for me. We used to spend a lot of time joking about the silliness onscreen – getting shot in the front and falling forwards (off a balcony, of course), for example – so that’s what I associate with westerns. As a result, as far as I’m concerned, the western is a genre that shouldn’t take itself too seriously.
And my word, does Dances With Wolves ever take itself too seriously. And it does it for, like, three hours.
As a general rule, I don’t have an issue with long movies. But three hours of watching Kevin Costner monotone his way through a movie with about 20 minutes worth of actual events is painful. (I’ll never understand why anyone would associate Kevin Costner with the word ‘epic.’) Couple that with the film’s white saviour storyline, in which the main character, John Dunbar (Costner), joins a Lakota tribe on the American frontier, essentially becoming its most important member, and the movie is all kinds of cringe.
It does have its good moments. Graham Greene (as Kicking Bird) is always great to watch, and I love listening to Mary McDonnell speak. She plays Stands With a Fist, a white woman who was taken in by the tribe as a child after her family was killed, and it’s clear she put a great deal of work into her accent. And it does have beautiful scenery, and lots of horses.
But that’s not enough.
Ultimately, Dances With Wolves is the perfect movie to nap through.
To see other posts in my venture to watch my movie collection in alphabetical(ish) order, click here.