1990 • Dances With Wolves

Dances With Wolves, 1990For the second time in our Best Picture project, Lauren and I watched two movies back-to-back, as we followed up 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy with 1990’s Dances With Wolves on Friday night. This movie hits home for me moreso than any other, as it was filmed in South Dakota, albeit in the western part of the state. There was much hoopla going on in the state when this movie was released, and I think even today there are tours given of the areas the movie was filmed. I thought, but maybe I’m wrong, that we watched this movie in grade school when it came out. One way or another, I know I’d seen it before many years ago.

Kevin Costner stars as Lt. John Dunbar, who during the Civil War rides his horse through enemy fire in hopes of being killed rather than wind up an amputee. When he manages to avoid being shot dozens of times within close proximity, he is instead praised as a hero and as a reward can choose any post. Dunbar chooses a desolate fort on the western frontier because he wants to see the gateway to the west. From here, Dunbar and his horse Cisco are harassed by the local Sioux until one day he rescues Stands With a Fist and returns her to be treated. Later he earns his keep for good when he alerts the Sioux to the buffalo in the area, and even rescues Wind in His Hair from a stampeding buffalo. Dunbar is now a friend of the Sioux and is given the name Dances With Wolves due to the wild wolf who follows him everywhere. He even marries Stands With a Fist. But what happens when US soldiers arrive at the fort and discover Dunbar has turned Indian?

In the end I was a little choked up! Dances With Wolves was amazing! It was a really great story with excellent acting and of course brilliant scenery. The transition of Dunbar from enemy to friend was very well done. Apparently there was no CGI used, each and every of the 3,000 buffaloes were real. Dances With Wolves won 7 Oscars, including Costner for Best Director (but not Best Actor). It was a long movie (I fell asleep with 40 minutes remaining) but I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any shorter.

Those who follow our project and my rankings will probably be surprised, but of the 60 movies we’ve seen so far, I ranked it second on the list behind only 1973’s The Sting, and even then it was a really close call for #1. Most movie buffs would probably have a difficult time accepting my rankings if I put the Godfather movies behind Dances With Wolves, but in my opinion it was almost the very best that we’ve seen so far.


  1. Your 2nd to last paragraph ends oddly. I’m not 100% sure about your comment regarding all of the buffalo being real. Opening day of the movie was huge in Pierre. I specifically remember a mechanical buffalo in the theatre, and I’m pretty sure it was one from the movie.

  2. […] watched the next few movies on our Best Picture project, 1988-1991: Rain Man, Driving Miss Daisy, Dances With Wolves, and The Silence of the Lambs (soon to be reviewed). There have been two strings of four […]

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