Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
USA/United Kingdom, 1990. Tig Productions, Majestic Films International, Allied Filmmakers. Screenplay by Michael Blake, based on his novel. Cinematography by Dean Semler. Produced by Kevin Costner, Jim Wilson. Music by John Barry. Production Design by Jeffrey Beecroft. Costume Design by Elsa Zamparelli. Film Editing by William Hoy, Chip Masamitsu, Steve Potter, Neil Travis.
It’s been decades since a glorious western has lit up the big screen, and this one manages to do it beautifully. Kevin Costner plays a weary Civil War soldier whose attempt to get himself killed on the battlefield ends up backfiring and garnering him a medal of honour instead. Offered a posting anywhere he chooses, Costner decides to go live on a deserted western frontier where the army forgets him and the nearby Native Americans befriend him. Eventually becoming a member of their tribe, he befriends their holy man (Graham Greene) and loves a white woman (an excellent Mary McDonnell) who was adopted by as a child after her parents were murdered. Stunning cinematography and painfully accurate period detail is combined with excellent characters and a heart-stopping climax that encapsulates the destruction of native culture by oncoming western settlers. White guilt was credited for garnering this film seven Academy Awards, but it would be viewed as worthy of distinction even by somebody with no previous knowledge of America’s history.
Academy Awards: Best Picture; Best Director (Kevin Costner); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Cinematography; Best Film Editing; Best Sound; Best Original Score
Nominations: Best Actor (Kevin Costner); Best Supporting Actor (Graham Greene); Best Supporting Actress (Mary McDonnell); Best Art Direction; Best Costume Design
Golden Globe Awards: Best Picture-Drama; Best Director (Kevin Costner); Best Screenplay
Nominations: Best Actor-Drama (Kevin Costner); Best Supporting Actress (Mary McDonnell); Best Original Score