Native Americans back on the scene

June 30th, 2013 by Uri

Happy 237th Birthday, USA!

The United States of America celebrated yesterday, but, as we all know, the land of the free and the home of the brave had some former residents who were mistreated and misrepresented. Although in the few last decades there were attempts to rectify this injustice, The Lone Ranger the newest cinematic incarnation of a Native American hero does look a bit on the campy side.

We, here at Jinni, thought it would be a good idea to reexamine some memorable Native American appearances on film and TV.

Stagecoach

The quintessential Western also provided the template for portraying Native Americans as a faceless marauding horde whose sole purpose is to provide ample danger and excitement, as seen in this classic chase scene.

The New World

The culture clash between the Native Americans and English settlers is handled by Terrence Malick in a subtle and contemplative manner in his award winning historical melodrama which also features one of those regrettably rare good Colin Farrell roles.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

The sensitive subject of the westward expansion and its impact on indigenous life is presented through the prism of animal life in this touching family friendly film.

Walker Texas Ranger

Q: How do you make TV’s toughest tough law enforcer even tougher? A: You give him a wise Native American uncle and the ability to “converse with animals to a point and use his environment to find hidden people” (it’s true, I read it in Walkerpedia)

Walker-Texas-Ranger

Longmire

Another, albeit more respectful, depication of a Native American aiding a tough law enforcer fight crime, is Lou Diamond Phillips as the supportive friend of a Wyoming sheriff.

Last of the Mohicans

18th Century forbidden love and interracial relations serve as the background for Daniel Day-Lewis and director Michael Mann for creating this memorable emotional and epic film.

Northern Exposure
A young Native American cinephile is just one of the eccentric gallery of characters in this sweet, Alaska set Emmy winning series about small town life and human relationships.

Windtalkers

In this underrated film which marked the end of John Woo’s Hollywood career, Native American soldiers play an important part in a heroic mission during World War II, using a unique Navajo language based code.

Dead Man

Stop me if this sounds familiar: Johnny Depp stars in a film about a naïve man being mentored by an ill tempered Native American. Well, this film, by offbeat auteur Jim Jarmusch is a brilliantly bleak and surreal western.

Granted, it might look more like another attempt to cash in on the success of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl – with the same star, director and writers teaming up to creat another humorous adventure, starring Johnny Depp being eccentric and choke-full of special effects, but somehow it doesn’t feel as tiresome as the other 3 (or was it17,865) other Jack Sparrow sequels. As for Native American represantion, let’s just call this one “Pirates of the great spirit”…

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