There are many messages that I remember the first time I saw “Dances with Wolves” that was released in 1990. The most thing I remember was that Dances with Wolves could be one of the best anti-war movies ever made. The story is about a soldier during the Civil war who deserts his unit after being wounded and almost losing his leg. After leaving his unit and living alone in the wilderness, he eventually befriends a local tribe of Indians and over a long period of time, he becomes part of their tribe and eventually part of their family. For me, the best message from this movie was that once you strip away the insanity of war, and being a soldier in an army with the singular goal of killing the enemy, what remains is humanity and how human beings relate to each other as people.
Dances with Wolves was a great movie for many reasons and won for best picture and also won 6 other Oscars, including best Director for Kevin Costner. Most of the movie was filmed on location in South Dakota, mainly on private ranches near Pierre and Rapid City, with a few scenes filmed in Wyoming. Specific locations included the Badlands National Park, the Black Hills, the Sage Creek Wilderness Area, and the Belle Fourche River area. The bison hunt scenes were filmed at the Triple U Buffalo Ranch outside Fort Pierre, South Dakota, as were the Fort Sedgewick scenes, the set being constructed on the property. What I remember the most about this movie are the incredible vistas and cinematography of the midwestern parts of the United States. The story was so well told and compelling that I didn’t even realize that it was almost 3 hours long and in fact, the full version of this film is 4 hours long.
Dances with Wolves is another great example in movie history of a one hit wonder. As with the movies Ordinary People and Terms of Endearment, everybody involved with these great productions all hit a high note in their career and never made a movie even close to this good ever again. Kevin Costner won for best director and this film won for best picture and from there, he went on to make Waterworld and some other very average movies, proving once again that the movie industry is as tough as any profession there is. The movie viewing audience is fickle and creating a great screenplay like Dancing with Wolves should be considered nothing less than a miracle.
It has been almost 30 years since Dancing with Wolves has been released and for all who are reading this movie blog and have not seen this great film, it gets my highest recommendation.