Film Clips for Ling 057 'Language and Popular Culture'

H. Schiffman, Instructor

All clips from Dances With Wolves

    John Dunbar, who has come close to death in the civil war, wishes to experience the frontier before it disappears. On a lonely isolated outpost he acquires new friends - firstly a 'savage' wolf and secondly, 'savage' Indians. This deliberate parallel recurs throughout the film and the more Dunbar 'dances' with these savages, the more he recognises that these wild creatures are civilised and that white civilisation is savage.

    In the Dakota Territory, he settles into a derelict "fort" and eventually meets some Lakota, whose language is featured prominently in this movie.

    1. Dunbar has his first encounter with Indians who turns out to be not the friendly Lakotas, but unfriendly (to put it mildly) Pawnees, who then attack the trader and kill him. Dunbar is scared to death. (This sets up a contrast between 'good' Indians and 'bad' ones.)

    2. Dunbar meets his first Lakota, Kicking Bird, who is poking around his cabin. Dunbar scares him off, although unintentionally.

    3. Wind in his Hair, a young, rambunctious guy, who is not very welcoming, comes to Dunbar's cabin and shouts at him.

    4. Dunbar comes to the Lakota village for the first time, carrying the limp body of the Caucasian woman (Stands with Fist) who has tried to commit suicide.

    5. Lakota bring Dunbar a present of a buffalo coat, and he tries to communicate with them.

    6. Dunbar acts the part of a buffalo, and learns the Lakota word 'Tatanka' from the friendlier of the Lakotas (Kicking Bird); the wilder one, Wind in his Hair, thinks Dunbar has lost his mind, but the more sensible man (Kicking Bird) knows better.

    7. Dunbar makes coffee for the Lakota.

    8. Lakota have a discussion about Dunbar and why he is there, whether he can be trusted, etc. Wind in his Hair says he can't, but the Chief tells him he will have to learn otherwise.

    Read a Review of this movie by Moira Gray.