Posts Tagged ‘South Dakota’

Dances With Wolves” (1990)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the epic western directed by and starring Kevin Costner as Lieutenant John Dunbar / Dances With Wolves, Mary McDonnell as Stands With a Fist (his wife / romantic interest), Graham Greene as “medicine man” Kicking Bird, and Rodney A. Grant as Wind In His Hair (Dunbar’s initial antagonist and then friend).  This is a LONG (3 Hrs.) movie about a civil war Union officer who fails to commit suicide during a Civil War battle and instead ends up a war hero.  For his “reward” he is granted any post he wishes (shades of “Top Gun“).  Dunbar asks to be assigned to a post on the far ends of the plains (South Dakota) so he can see the open frontier “before it is gone.”  He is granted his request.
Dunbar ends up in a small post in-between two warring factions of Native Americans (the “good” Sioux, and the “evil” Pawnee).  The post appears to have been destroyed by Indian attack.  Dunbar makes friends with the Sioux and eventually becomes a valued member of the tribe / nation.  Ultimately, Dunbar takes his wife and leaves the tribe as a personal sacrifice because his presence will only bring retribution / retaliation from the Army who are tracking him down for desertion and treason.  The movie ends with a closing note about the end of a free Sioux Nation on the open plains.
So, is this a “good” movie?  Is it entertaining?  Did I like it?  Well, it won “Best Picture” and “Best Director” at the Oscars, so that kind of answers that…  Is it entertaining?  Yes, mostly.  It’s a long movie and you have to be prepared for that (physically and mentally).  You have to watch the movie or you miss subtle dialogue and facial exchanges.  Visually, I found it very reminiscent of “Lawrence of Arabia” with the colors and scenic vistas.  Story wise, I found it very reminiscent of “The Last Samurai“: U.S. Calvary officer goes native after spending time with the locals and discovering himself.
And, did I like it?  Mostly.  I tend to like my epics with happy endings and a triumphal hero.  This is not that kind of movie.  Although both the hero and the tribe “win” the last battle, the closing screen makes clear the tribe loses its battle for survival (they get confined to a reservation).  There is no mention of what happens to the Dunbar and his wife.  This appears to have been left open as a lead in for a sequel, but Costner doesn’t do sequels, the role has never been recast, and he has made clear his opposition to participation in a sequel.
Final recommendation:  highly recommended!  If you are into the “heroic journey” story, this will be your cup of tea.  It was for me.  The movie was “kind of” a surprise hit.  Westerns had a big fall-off after a number of bombs in the 1970s and 80s, and this movie is credited with breathing new life into the genre.  I like westerns, even if they are rarely realistic portrayals of their periods, so this was a good thing for me.
One last comment:  I have seen some of the parts of this movie over the (last 30) years, but had never seen it straight through from start to finish.  This is my loss.  If you have not seen this movie, but enjoy Westerns, hero’s journeys, or even just epic video story telling, don’t let this be your loss, too.
On This Day In:
2019 Imagine If…
2018 How Many Now?
Day 29: Tied (By The Time You Read This)
2017 Earn The Gift
2016 Still Loud
2015 Surprise! No Evidence
2014 Real Ideals
2013 A Happiness Weapon
2012 An Eagle Has Departed
And In My Prayers
2011 Welcome Doubt
2010 Talk, Talk, Talk…
Every Day At Least
Democratic Suicide
Pleasurable Reading
Loose Joy
Do, Er, Write – Whatever
This Glorious Company
Relax With A Good Book
Neither Vice Nor Weakness
That’s Rich!
Man Will Prevail!!!
Frankly Speaking to Arizona
Brother By Another Mother

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My mechanic told me “I couldn’t fix your brakes, so I made your horn louder.”
  —  Steven Wright
[Without any significant accomplishments (which the majority of Americans actually supported) during his first two years as President, #IncompetentDonald chose to use the mid-term elections campaign to spread hate and fear.  The results were a (not surprising) repudiation of the President where the number of Americans voting against Republicans increased from three million votes (Trump vs. Hilary popular vote loss count) to over six million (nationwide total – see image below) in the House and twelve million (nationwide total) in the Senate.  It is only the fact that Republicans outnumber Democrats in States with smaller populations which has allowed them to retain control of the Senate.  In the United States, each State gets two Senators irrespective of the State’s population.  The House, on the other hand, gets Districts assigned based on populations with a minimum of one.  Some of the States with smaller populations (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming) only have one Representative (called “at large”) with their “District” being the entire State.  The Senate is “inherently” less “democratic” for the nation by design.  Additionally, by only having one-third of its members up for re-election in any given election, it is also “inherently” more moderating (i.e. “conservative”) in representing the overall population of both the State and the nation.  (The Senate is the “brake” in this metaphor.)  Because the entire House of Representatives is up for re-election each election period, the House tends to reflect the political swings in the electorate more quickly and more radically – direction and degree – when the country is shouting “Stop” or “Speed-up”.  (The House is the “horn”.)
Image showing Democratic nationwide vote difference in 2018

Democratic nationwide vote difference in 2018

Of course, the comparison of vote totals above – numbers for President, House and Senate – are comparing apples to oranges to bananas.  And / but, they also do NOT take into account the significant gerrymandering done as of the 2010 census, which heavily tilted the House Districts in favor of the Republicans.  This makes the wins by the Democrats even MORE impressive!  It remains to be seen if those changes will remain when we go back into a Presidential turnout.  It also highlights the importance of Democrats working at the State level to regain control of as many State governorships and legislatures as possible heading into the next (2020) census and subsequent House redistricting.  The number of seats is controlled at the Federal level, but the actual redrawing of the Districts is done by the individual States.
This last part, the census and the redistricting is why it is vitally important for the electorate (the voters) to stay active during the run-up to 2020 (the census) and then immediately after through 2022, when the redistricting will normally occur.  In other words, you (voters seeking to make a progressive difference) can’t go to sleep between now and 2022 or the Republicans can continue and increase their relative positions through 2032.   By the way, the gerrymander is not (by any means) unique to the Republicans.  The Democrats have also used it to protect their seats.  The difference is the modern day use of computers to track voters and then specifically target the isolation of opposition voters to maximize their count while minimizing their effect.  For example, one State (Pennsylvania) had 51% of the vote (Democrats), but seated 5 out of 18 Districts (28% of the House seats) in 2012 because Republicans controlled the State legislature.  So, a word to the wise…  If you want to keep the house after 2020, stay awake and stay active!
Finally, for an excellent explanation of Gerrymandering, please read the linked article:  “This is the best explanation of gerrymandering you will ever see“, which appeared in the Washington Post a few years back.  I re-read it every year to remind myself of what is at stake.   —    KMAB]
On This Day In:
2017 He Says, It Says
2016 Marriage Advice
2015 To James (and ‘Tasha)
2014 Ssshhush, You Are Not Alone
2013 So I Chose Living…
2012 For However Short A Time…
2011 Take A Deep Breath And Continue (Or Not)
2010 Tootsie-Roll Day

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