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“Dances with Wolves” premieres in theaters

“Dances with Wolves” premieres in theaters

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On November 4, 1990, Dances with Wolves, a film about an American Civil War-era soldier and a group of Sioux Native Americans that stars Kevin Costner and also marks his directorial debut, premieres in Los Angeles. The film, which opened across the United States on November 21, 1990, was a surprise box-office success and earned 12 Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor for Costner. Dances with Wolves took home seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, and solidified Costner’s place on Hollywood’s A-list.

Costner was born on January 18, 1955, in Lynwood, California, and by the early 1980s had racked up a small list of film credits. He was cast in the 1983 hit The Big Chill, but all his scenes were cut before the film was released. Costner went on to co-star in Silverado (1985), with Kevin Kline and Danny Glover; The Untouchables (1987), with Sean Connery, Andy Garcia and Robert De Niro; and No Way Out (1987), with Gene Hackman and Sean Young. Costner then struck box-office gold with the baseball films Bull Durham (1988), in which he starred in the title role opposite Susan Sarandon, and Field of Dreams (1989), in which he played a farmer who builds a baseball diamond in his corn field. Field of Dreams was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

In 1990’s Dances with Wolves, Costner played the Union Army’s Lieutenant John Dunbar, who travels to a desolate Western post, befriends his Sioux neighbors and eventually becomes an honorary member of their tribe. Based on a novel by Michael Blake, the film was shot on location, primarily in South Dakota, and contained Lakota dialogue with English-language subtitles.

Prince Igor

Prince Igor (Russian: Князь Игорь , tr. Knyáz Ígor listen ( help · info ) ) is an opera in four acts with a prologue, written and composed by Alexander Borodin. The composer adapted the libretto from the Ancient Russian epic The Lay of Igor's Host, which recounts the campaign of Rus' prince Igor Svyatoslavich against the invading Cuman ("Polovtsian") tribes in 1185. He also incorporated material drawn from two medieval Kievan chronicles. The opera was left unfinished upon the composer's death in 1887 and was edited and completed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov. It was first performed in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1890.


Originally written as a spec script by Michael Blake, it went unsold in the mid-1980s. However, Kevin Costner had starred in Blake's only previous film, Stacy's Knights (1983), and encouraged Blake in early 1986 to turn the Western screenplay into a novel to improve its chances of being produced. The novel was rejected by numerous publishers but finally published in paperback in 1988. The rights were purchased by Costner, with an eye on directing it. Γ]

Actual production lasted for four months, from July 18 to November 23, 1989. 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. Γ]

She is the daughter of Kevin and his first wife, Cindy.

The bison hunt, using 3,500 bison, 20 wranglers, 24 bareback Native American stunt riders, and 150 extras, took three weeks to film (with seven cameras) at the Triple U Buffalo Ranch outside Fort Pierre, South Dakota. Costner, who did most of his own horseback riding, nearly broke his back in a fall.

Kevin Costner in a scene from the film &aposDances With Wolves&apos, 1990

Tig Productions/Getty Images


St. Louis Park’s Cooper Theater opened on August 8, 1962, at 5755 Wayzata Blvd. Hubert Humphrey and his wife were co-hosts at the invitation-only grand opening. Trustees of the Cooper Foundation (see Other Theaters, below) hosted a dinner at the Radisson Hotel before the showing of “The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.” George Pal, producer of the MGM movie, was at the dinner and the showing of the film, which was the first Cinerama film to tell a story.

The $1 million facility was built on 32 acres by Anderson-Cherne Construction. It had tiered, plush (mohair?) seating for 808 people (146 of which were in the mezzanine), and the lot held 400 cars. The Minneapolis Daily Herald described the theater:

A walnut-paneled foyer of 3,000 square feet is decorated in black brick with bitter-sweet (burnt orange) upholstery fabric and a sky-blue acoustic plaster ceiling. A patterned carpet with a deep blue background lies underfoot. Intermission smoking can be in a special outside patio, divided from the foyer by ceiling-to-floor glass. It has an outdoor black brick fireplace and a lighted fountain. Black Roman brick masonry forms the base of the exterior of the circular building, topped by bittersweet-colored prefabricated Monopanels.

The theater was meticulously maintained – reportedly the lobby was repainted monthly. The screen was the largest ever installed: 35 feet high with a 105-foot-wide curve. The auditorium was described by the Star Tribune as a “perfect circle without a quivering piece of hardware.” One wag said it was haunted by a workman who died building it. There were smoking platforms on the sides. Usherettes wore uniforms – black dresses with pearls – and special costumes for special films. One former usherette remembers wearing hoop skirts for “Gone With the Wind.” The theater eschewed popcorn and pop for Swiss chocolate (Toblerone – the “World’s Finest Chocolate Bars”) and juice, served during intermission.

The theater was one of three in the country to be specially outfitted for Cinerama (see the bottom of this page for information on the other two).

Cinerama wasn’t new in 1962 in fact, it was a decade old. Cinerama used three film projectors synchronized to make a panoramic image. “This is Cinerama” had premiered on September 30, 1952, at the Broadway Theater in New York City. It opened in April 1954 at the Century Theater at 38 So. 7th Street near Nicollet in downtown Minneapolis, and was the only theater to show it in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Iowa, or Wisconsin. The Century was reportedly only the 11th theater in the country to show a Cinerama film. The new screen was 72 by 28 feet. An article in the May 19, 1954, Park High Echo featured an article entitled “New Movie Invention Now Showing in City.” The article accurately described the process:

The picture itself is played upon a gigantic curved screen, giving the viewer an impression of actual participation in the scene around him.

“This Is Cinerama,” the only movie released to date in this medium, is a travelogue. Beginning with a whirling roller coaster ride, the scene shifts to a beautiful cathedral, the canals of Venice and to Florida’s Everglades, among other places and is climaxed by an airplane tour of the entire United States.

A controversy has been raging in Hollywood over additional Cinerama productions. The latest decision is to continue releasing travel pictures.

“This is Cinerama” closed on July 26, 1955, and a new film, Louis de Rochemont’s “Cinerama Holiday,” made its debut at the Century. In 1963, 70 mm was installed at the Century for the showing of “Cleopatra,” which was presented there for over a year. After another long run of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” the theater was closed in the fall of 1964 and a fire gutted the building a couple of weeks later. It was demolished in February 1965.



A list of all of the movies that played the Cooper, the Cooper Cameo and Cooper 1 and 2 was compiled by three projectionists that worked the Cooper: Francis May, Joseph T. Lewis and Michael J. Varani. Fran May and Joe Lewis worked the Cooper from day one as part of the original Cinerama crew. Mike was hired when Fran May retired in 1980. Joe Lewis worked with Mike part time up until his retirement in 1987. Mike compiled all of the movies and brief equipment and ownership changes from 1980 to the 1991 closing. Fran and Joe are responsible for the content from 1962 to September of 1980.

The following are some milestones in the history of the theater, taken with permission from the database.

The first movie shown was the “Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm,” on August 9, 1962. The ad in the Minneapolis paper had a list of places in outlying cities where one could buy tickets, and a coupon one could send in to buy tickets in advance. When the Cooper played Cinerama, it was a “hard ticket,” meaning a patron bought a ticket for a specific seat.

“How the West Was Won” was shown in 1963-64.

Image courtesy Mike Varani

The local premiere of “Airport” was held at the Cooper, on or around March 5, 1970. The event was a fundraiser for the Minnesota Association for Retarded Children, raising $30,000. The Humphreys were in attendance, as were local celebrities Johnny Canton and Nancy Nelson, who were in the movie. Jacqueline Bisset was also there, and some patrons arrived by small planes that landed right on the grounds. One plane was on the grounds throughout the entire run of the movie.

Airport screening, March 18, 1970. Photo by William Seaman, Minneapolis Star Tribune

On December 25, 1975, the Cameo Theater opened. This smaller theater (300 seats) was built onto the existing structure – the big screen was never divided.

A Dolby CP 100 Unit was installed in December 1978.

On November 19, 1979, the theater was acquired by Plitt North Central Theatres.

In April 1982, a new screen and a Dolby CP 50 stereo unit were installed.

On November 12, 1982, the Cameo name was dropped and the theaters were known as the Cooper 1 and 2.

On November 7, 1985, the St. Louis Park Cooper Theater was the scene of the premiere of “That Was Then, This is Now,” a movie based on a book by S.E. Hinton and co-starring Emilio Estevez. EE did not attend.

On November 22, 1985, Cineplex Odeon acquired Plitt North Central Theatres.

On June 22 and 23, 1987, Screen 1 closed to install Xenon and Platter.

But the market for Cinerama was limited and new and better technology came along. The theater fell into disrepair as receipts could not keep up with maintenance costs. The owners could no longer afford to operate it, and the death knell rang. The opening of the Willow Creek Odeon complex, just three miles away, did not help the situation. There was a concerted but failed effort by many, including architect Gail S. Anderson, to save it as a National or State historic landmark, but the structure was not yet 50 years old. St. Louis Park did not have any similar ordinances, so the theater was done.

The last two movies, “Dances With Wolves” on the Big Screen and “Godfather III” on the small screen, were shown on January 31, 1991. A correspondent who attended “Godfather III,” which got out after “Dances With Wolves,” was over said that when walking out, they were already removing chandeliers and other decorations, but that’s been disputed.

The property, now just 2.2 acres, was razed in September 1992, at the time to make room for an Olive Garden restaurant owned by General Mills. Olive Garden went in elsewhere, though, and the site is now Stahl Construction.

For a web site that at least used to have pictures, see www.cinematreasures.org/theater/930

Lost Twin Cities III has a segment on the Cooper that has many great photos of the building as well as video of its demolition. See their web site for a gallery of photos, some from Keeper-of-the-Flame Mike Varani.

Photo by David Przetycki



1987 Photo courtesy Danny Amis

The Cooper in the Fall of 1990 – photo courtesy Rob Butler


There were two other nearly identical theaters built around the same time, all by the the nonprofit Cooper Foundation of Lincoln, Nebraska, a charitable and educational organization established in 1934 by Joseph H. Cooper, a long-time theater owner and former partner of Paramount Pictures. The Foundation supports nonprofit organization organizations in Lincoln and Lancaster County, Nebraska. The foundation once owned and operated 15 theaters in Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Missouri. It sold off its theater interests in 1975.

The theaters were designed by architect Richard L. Crowther of Denver. The original blueprints for the theaters are in the Denver Public Library Special Collections Department.

The first Cooper Theater was located at 860 S. Colorado Blvd. in Denver. It opened on March 9, 1961. It featured a 146-degree louvered screen (measuring a massive 105 feet by 35 feet), 814 seats, courtesy lounges on the sides of the theater for relaxation during intermission (including smoking facilities), and a ceiling which routed air and heating through small vent slots in order to inhibit noise from the building’s ventilation equipment. It was demolished in 1994 to make way for a Barnes & Noble Bookstore.

The third Cooper-built Cinerama theater, the Indian Hills Theater, opened in December 1962 in Omaha. Wikipedia reports:

The Indian Hills theater closed on September 28, 2000, as a result of the bankruptcy of Carmike Cinemas, and the final film presented was the rap music-drama, “Turn It Up.” Despite an intensive grass-roots campaign by local preservationists, support by film actors and the movie industry including Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Ray Bradbury, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the American Society of Cinematographers, the owner, Nebraska Methodist Health Systems, Inc., went ahead with demolition on August 20, 2001, to make space available for a parking lot for its administration offices. (Ironically, on August 8, the Omaha Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission had voted unanimously to recommend to the Omaha City Council that the Indian Hills be designated a Landmark of the City of Omaha. The building was destroyed anyway before the council met to take action.) The demise of the theater and efforts to preserve others throughout the nation are chronicled in Jim Fields’s documentary “Preserve Me a Seat.”


In 1863, 1st Lieutenant John J. Dunbar is wounded in battle at St. David's Field in Tennessee. Choosing death in battle over amputation of his foot, he takes a horse and rides up to and along the Confederate lines. Confederate forces fire repeatedly at him and miss, and the Union Army takes advantage of the distraction to mount a successful attack. Dunbar receives both a citation for bravery and medical care that allows him to keep his foot. He is subsequently awarded Cisco, the horse that carried him during his suicide attempt, and his choice of posting. Dunbar requests a transfer to the western frontier, so he can see it before it disappears.

Dunbar is transferred to Fort Hays, a large fort commanded by Major Fambrough, an unhinged officer who despises Dunbar's enthusiasm. He agrees to post Dunbar to the furthest outpost under his jurisdiction, Fort Sedgwick, and kills himself shortly afterwards. Dunbar travels with Timmons, a mule-wagon provisioner. They arrive to find the fort deserted. Despite the threat of nearby native tribes, Dunbar elects to stay and man the post himself.

He begins rebuilding and restocking the fort, and prefers the solitude, recording many of his observations in his diary. Timmons is killed by Pawnee on the journey back to Fort Hays. The deaths of both Timmons and Fambrough prevent other soldiers from knowing of Dunbar's assignment, and no other soldiers arrive to reinforce the post.

Dunbar encounters his Sioux neighbors when they attempt to steal his horse and intimidate him. Deciding that being a target is a poor prospect, he decides to seek out the Sioux camp and attempt dialogue. On his way, he comes across Stands with a Fist, the White adopted daughter of the tribe's medicine man Kicking Bird, who is ritually mutilating herself while mourning for her husband. Dunbar brings her back to the Sioux to recover. Though the tribe is initially hostile, some of the members soon begin to respect him.

Eventually, Dunbar establishes a rapport with Kicking Bird, the warrior Wind in His Hair, and the youth Smiles a Lot, initially visiting each other's camps. The language barrier frustrates them, and Stands with a Fist acts as an interpreter, although with difficulty. She only remembers a little English from her early childhood before the rest of her family was killed during a Pawnee raid.

Dunbar discovers that the stories he had heard about the tribe were untrue, and he develops a growing respect and appreciation for their lifestyle and culture. Learning their language, he is accepted as an honored guest by the Sioux after he tells them of a migrating herd of buffalo and participates in the hunt. When at Fort Sedgwick, Dunbar befriends a wolf he dubs "Two Socks" for its white forepaws. Observing Dunbar and Two Socks chasing each other, the Sioux give him the name "Dances with Wolves". During this time, Dunbar also forges a romantic relationship with Stands with a Fist and helps defend the village from an attack by the rival Pawnee tribe. Dunbar eventually wins Kicking Bird's approval to marry Stands with a Fist and abandons Fort Sedgwick.

Because of the growing threat from the Pawnee and the U.S., Chief Ten Bears decides to move the tribe to its winter camp. Dunbar decides to accompany them, but must first retrieve his diary from Fort Sedgwick, as he realizes that it would provide the army with the means to find the tribe. When he arrives, he finds the fort reoccupied by the U.S. Army. Because of his Sioux clothing, the soldiers open fire, killing Cisco and capturing Dunbar, arresting him as a traitor.

Two officers interrogate him, but Dunbar cannot prove his story, as a corporal has found his diary and kept it for himself. Having refused to serve as an interpreter to the tribes, Dunbar is charged with desertion and transported back east as a prisoner. Soldiers of the escort shoot Two Socks when the wolf attempts to follow Dunbar, despite Dunbar's attempts to intervene.

Eventually, the Sioux track the convoy, killing the soldiers and freeing Dunbar. They assert that they do not see him as a White man, but as a Sioux warrior called Dances with Wolves. At the winter camp, Dunbar decides to leave with Stands with a Fist because his continuing presence would endanger the tribe. As they leave, Smiles a Lot returns the diary, which he recovered during Dunbar's liberation, and Wind in His Hair shouts to Dunbar, reminding him that he is Dunbar's friend, a contrast to their original meeting where he shouted at Dunbar in hostility.

U.S. troops are seen searching the mountains, but cannot locate Dunbar or the tribe, while a lone wolf howls in the distance.

Epilogue Edit

Thirteen years later -- their homes destroyed, their buffalo gone -- the last band of free Sioux submitted to White authority at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. The great horse culture of the plains was gone, and the American frontier was soon to pass into history.

    as Lt. John J. Dunbar/Dances with Wolves (Lakota: Šuŋgmánitu Tȟáŋka Ób Wačhí) as Stands with a Fist/Christine Gunther (Napépȟeča Nážiŋ Wiŋ) as Kicking Bird (Ziŋtká Nagwáka) as Wind in His Hair (Pȟehíŋ Otȟáte) as Chief Ten Bears (Matȟó Wikčémna) as Black Shawl (Šiná Sápa Wiŋ) as Stone Calf (Íŋyaŋ Ptehíŋčala) as Smiles a Lot (Iȟá S'a) as Otter (Ptáŋ)
  • Jason R. Lone Hill as Worm (Waglúla) as Lt. Elgin as Timmons
  • Tony Pierce as Spivey
  • Larry Joshua as Bauer as Edwards as Sergeant Pepper as Major Fambrough as Toughest Pawnee
  • Wayne Grace as the Major as Captain Cargill (extended version)
  • Doris Leader Charge as Pretty Shield, Chief Ten Bears' wife
  • Donald Hotton as General Tide
  • Frank P. Costanza as Tucker
  • Annie Costner as Christine Gunther as a child
  • Otakuye Conroy as Kicking Bird's daughter as Doctor (uncredited)

Originally written as a speculation script by Michael Blake, it went unsold in the mid-1980s. However, Kevin Costner had starred in Blake's only previous film, Stacy's Knights (1983), and encouraged Blake in early 1986 to turn the Western screenplay into a novel to improve its chances of being produced. The novel was rejected by numerous publishers, but finally was published in paperback in 1988. The rights were purchased by Costner, with an eye on directing it. [7]

Costner and his producing partner, Jim Wilson, had difficulty in raising money for the film. The project was turned down by several studios due to the Western genre no longer being popular as it was during the 1980s following the disastrous box office of Heaven's Gate (1980), as well as the length of the script. After the project languished at both Nelson Entertainment and Island Pictures due to budget reasons, Costner and Wilson enlisted producer Jake Eberts to manage foreign rights in several countries for Costner to retain final cut rights. [8] The two then made a deal with Orion Pictures, in which the studio would distribute the film in North America. [8]

Actual production lasted from July 18 to November 23, 1989. 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. [7]

Defying expectations, Dances with Wolves proved instantly popular, eventually earning great critical acclaim, making $184 million in U.S. box office and $424 million in total worldwide. [9] As of 13 July 2019 [update] , the film holds an approval rating of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 76 reviews, with an average rating of 7.58/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "A grand, sweeping epic with inarguably noble intentions and arresting cinematography, but one whose center, arguably, is not as weighty as it should be." [10] Metacritic gave the film a score of 72 out of 100 based on 20 critical reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". [11] CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film a rare "A+" grade. [12]

Dances with Wolves was named one of the top-10 films of 1990 by over 115 critics, and was named the best film of the year by 19 critics. [13] Only Goodfellas was included on more lists in 1990. [ citation needed ]

Because of the film's popularity and lasting impact on the image of Native Americans, the Sioux Nation adopted Costner as an honorary member. [14] At the 63rd Academy Awards ceremony in 1991, Dances with Wolves earned 12 Academy Award nominations and won seven, including Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay]] (Michael Blake]), Best Director (Costner), and Best Picture. In 2007, the Library of Congress selected Dances with Wolves for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. [15]

Native American activist and actor Russell Means was critical of the film's technical accuracy. In 2009, he said, "Remember Lawrence of Arabia? That was Lawrence of the Plains. The odd thing about making that movie is that they had a woman teaching the actors the Lakota language, but Lakota has a male-gendered language and a female-gendered language. Some of the Natives and Kevin Costner were speaking in the feminine way. When I went to see it with a bunch of Lakota guys, we were laughing." [16] Other Native Americans, such as Michael Smith (Sioux), the director of San Francisco's long-running annual American Indian Film Festival, said, "There's a lot of good feeling about the film in the Native community, especially among the tribes. I think it's going to be very hard to top this one." [17]

Some of the criticism was inspired by the fact that the pronunciation is not authentic, since only one of the actors was a native speaker of the language. The dialogues in the native language have been lauded as a remarkable achievement. [18] Other writers, though, have noted that earlier otherwise English-language films, such as Eskimo (1933), Wagon Master (1950), and The White Dawn (1974) had also incorporated Native dialogue. [19]

Accolades Edit

In addition to becoming the first Western film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture since 1931's Cimarron, [20] Dances with Wolves won a number of additional awards, making it one of the most honored films of 1990. [21]

Home media Edit

The film was released on home video in the United States in September 1991 and beat the rental record set by Ghost, renting 649,000 units. [22] Dances With Wolves was released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 11, 2011, and was re-released on Blu-ray on January 13, 2015 and again on November 13, 2018. [23]

The Holy Road, a sequel novel by Michael Blake, the author of both the original novel and the movie screenplay, was published in 2001. [24] It picks up 11 years after Dances with Wolves. John Dunbar is still married to Stands with a Fist, and they have three children. Stands with a Fist and one of the children are kidnapped by a party of White rangers, and Dances with Wolves must mount a rescue mission. As of 2007, Blake was writing a film adaptation. [25] Costner, who has refused to do sequels to any of his films, including The Untouchables, stated he would not take part in this production. [26] A third book titled The Great Mystery was planned, but Blake died in 2015.

Judith A. Boughter wrote: "The problem with Costner's approach is that all of the Sioux are heroic, while the Pawnees are portrayed as stereotypical villains. Most accounts of Sioux–Pawnee relations see the Pawnees, numbering only 4,000 at that time, as victims of the more powerful Sioux." [27]

The history and context of Fort Hays is radically different from that portrayed in the movie. Historic Fort Hays was founded in 1867, with the iconic stone blockhouse being built immediately. [28] Its predecessor, Fort Fletcher (1865-1868), was abandoned for only a few months and then relocated only a short distance in 1866. [29] Fort Hays was founded in Cheyenne territory rather than Sioux. Rather than a desolate site, the fort was host to thousands of soldiers, railroad workers, and settlers from the start. The Kansas Pacific Railway and the settlements of Rome and Hays City were built next to the fort in 1867 each was a perceived violation of Cheyenne and Arapaho territory, resulting in immediate warfare with the Dog Soldiers. [30] The fort was Sheridan's headquarters at the center of the 1867-68 conflict. A historic seasonal Pawnee tipi village had been located only 9 miles (14 km) from Fort Hays, but the Pawnee had been excluded from it by other dominant tribes for some time by the 1860s. [31] [32]

The real John Dunbar worked as a Christian missionary among the Pawnee in the 1830s–40s, and sided with the Native Americans in a dispute with government farmers and a local Indian agent. [33] It is unclear whether the name "John Dunbar" was chosen as a corollary to the historical figure. [34]

The fictional Lieutenant John Dunbar of 1863 is correctly shown in the film wearing a gold bar on his officer shoulder straps, indicating his rank as a first lieutenant. From 1836 to 1872, the rank of first lieutenant was indicated by a gold bar after 1872, the rank was indicated by a silver bar. Similarly, Captain Cargill is correctly depicted wearing a pair of gold bars, indicating the rank of captain at that time. [35]

In an interview, author and screenwriter Michael Blake said that Stands with a Fist, the White captive woman who marries Dunbar, was actually based upon the story of Cynthia Ann Parker, the White girl captured by Comanches and mother of Quanah Parker. [36]

One year after the original theatrical release of Dances with Wolves, a four-hour version of the film opened at select theaters in London. This longer cut was titled Dances with Wolves: The Special Edition, and it restored nearly an hour's worth of scenes that had been removed to keep the original film's running time under 3 hours. [37] In a letter to British film reviewers, Kevin Costner and producer Jim Wilson addressed their reasons for presenting a longer version of the film:

Why add another hour to a film that by most standards pushes the time limit of conventional movie making? The 52 additional minutes that represent this "new" version were difficult to cut in the first place, and . the opportunity to introduce them to audiences is compelling. We have received countless letters from people worldwide asking when or if a sequel would be made, so it seemed like a logical step to enhance our film with existing footage . making an extended version is by no means to imply that the original Dances with Wolves was unfinished or incomplete rather, it creates an opportunity for those who fell in love with the characters and the spectacle of the film to experience more of both. [38]

The genesis of the 4-hour version of the film was further explained in an article for Entertainment Weekly that appeared 10 months after the premiere of the original film. "While the small screen has come to serve as a second chance for filmmakers who can't seem to let their babies go, Kevin Costner and his producing partner, Jim Wilson, hope that their newly completed version will hit theater screens first."

"I spent seven months working on it," Wilson says of the expanded Wolves. He's quick to defend the Oscar-winning version as "the best picture we had in us at the time," yet Wilson also says he's "ecstatic" over the recut. "It's a brand-new picture," he insists. "There's now more of a relationship between Kevin and Stands with a Fist, more with the wolf, more with the Indians—stuff that's integral all through the story." Of course, exhibitors may not want a longer version of an already widely seen movie, but Wilson remains optimistic. "I don't think the time is now," he acknowledges, "but ideally, there is a point at which it would come out with an intermission, booked into the very best venues in America." [39]

Costner later claimed that he did not work on the creation of the 4-hour cut at all. [40]

Film Review: ‘Dances With Wolves’

In his directorial debut, Kevin Costner brings a rare degree of grace and feeling to this elegiac tale of a hero’s adventure of discovery among the Sioux Indians on the pristine Dakota plains of the 1860s. Despite its three-hour length, pic stands a good chance of being a word-of-mouth hit and one of the season’s most widely popular pics.

Costner stars as Lt. John Dunbar, a Union officer in the Civil War invited to choose his own post after an act of heroism. Opting for the farthest reaches of the frontier because he “Wants to see it before it disappears,” he transplants himself from a weary and cynical war culture to the windswept clarity of the Dakota plains.

Arriving at the remote outpost assigned him by an insane major (Maury Chaykin), Dunbar finds it deserted and, to the disbelief of his wagon driver (Robert Pastorelli), opts to unload his provisions and stay.

His only company as he passes the days are his horse, a gangling wolf who keeps a nervous distance, and, finally, a Sioux Indian who tries to steal the horse and is frightened off by Dunbar.

Because whites and Indians automatically killed each other upon meeting, each party lived in ignorance of the other. Dunbar’s virtue is that he resists violence, putting himself at risk with the Sioux until they trust him and accept him.

Popular on Variety

Dunbar keeps a journal, hoping to create “a trail for others to follow.” He discovers a culture so deeply refreshing to his spirit, compared with the detritus he’s left behind, that, by the time the U.S. Army bothers to look for him, he has become a Sioux and his name is Dances With Wolves.

Of course, the Union soldiers completely misunderstand his purposes, giving pic the tragic cast this saga historically deserves.

Script by Michael Blake portrays the Sioux culture with appreciation, establishing within it characters of winning individuality and humor. Design team accents the diverse beauty of the actors (all Native Americans) with striking combinations of paint, feathers and deerskin in costuming.

Unfortunately, the script seems to have run out of understanding by the time the Union soldiers arrive to do a job on the “traitor” Dunbar, and portrayal of this loutish and brutal mob, who refuse so much as to hear him out, is pic’s weakest and most manipulative passage.

Still, it makes effective drama and, if interpreted metaphorically, the scene conveys the spirit of rape and plunder that had vanquished the Sioux culture within a mere 13 years of this story’s unfolding, according to the screen epilogue.

Lensed on location in South Dakota over 17 weeks, pic is infused with the natural grandeur of the plains and sky, captured in all their variance by cinematographer Dean Semler.

Score by John Barry makes a major contribution, varying from the elegiac tone of the main theme to the spirited adventure of classic Westerns, to the heart-racing primal rhythms of the buffalo and scalp dances.

Costner’s directing style is fresh and assured. A sense of surprise and humor accompany Dunbar’s adventures at every turn, twisting the narrative gently this way and that and making the journey a real pleasure.

Perhaps he is a bit precious with himself as star. One wonders how many times he’s going to tip over backward in mock defeat to show us he’s a playful guy, or how much masochism he’ll indulge in when Dunbar is imperiled.

But making up for it are scenes of mystical power and beauty, such as Dunbar’s first earth-shaking nighttime encounter with the buffalo as they hurtle past him through the fog.

Contrasting the gentle Sioux with the savage and aggressive Pawnee who made war on them, pic lends a sense of history to their ultimate vanquishment.

Project, first from Costner and co-producer Jim Wilson’s Tig Prods., reps a teaming of three longtime friends — Costner, Wilson and writer Blake, who first collaborated in 1981 on “Stacy’s Knights,” Costner’s first starring pic.

From its three-hour length, which amazingly does not become tiresome, to its bold use of subtitled Lakota language (the Sioux tongue) for at least a third of the dialogue, it’s clear the filmmakers were proceeding without regard for the rules. Their audacity in doing so, because they knew what they had, is as inspiring as the film itself.

Mary McDonnell (“Matewan”) is impressive as Stands With A Fist, an emotionally traumatized white woman adopted by the Sioux who helps Dunbar communicate with them. Her perf is particularly notable for the technical accomplishment of her tremulous, flat-sounding delivery of English, a language she hasn’t heard since early childhood.

Native American actors Graham Greene (as the holy man Kicking Bird) and Rodney Grant (as the warrior Wind In His Hair) give vivid, transfixing performances, bringing much spirit and skill to Orion’s early entry in the Christmas derby.

Bernstein recounts the segregated Atlanta premiere of 'Gone With the Wind'

On Dec. 15, 1939, "Gone With the Wind" premiered in Atlanta at Loew's Grand Theater. It was one of the most momentous occasions in Atlanta history — a star-studded gala with Vivien Leigh, Clark Cable and Olivia de Havilland. But there were some key players missing from the premiere, including Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy (the first African-American actor to win an Oscar), and Butterfly McQueen, who played Prissy.

Matthew Bernstein, professor and chair of film and media studies at Emory, will discuss how the premiere's segregated Southern location lead to fretful, fearful and complex negotiations between Hollywood companies and city leaders in his lecture " 'Selznick's March': 'The Gone with the Wind' Premiere in Atlanta" on Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. in White Hall 205.

Just in time for the film's 75 th anniversary, Bernstein's lecture will provide a detailed exploration, from Hollywood's point of view, of the difficulties involved in mounting this unprecedented extravaganza in a segregated Southern city.

Emory will also host a free screening of the film on Saturday, Dec. 6, at 1 p.m. in White Hall, room 208.

Below are portions of an interview with Matthew Bernstein about the premiere written by Alicia Dietrich for the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin earlier this year.

December marks the 75th anniversary of the premiere of "Gone With the Wind" in Atlanta. Why, all these years later, does this film evoke such a strong response from audiences?

The hold "Gone With the Wind" has over certain audiences is extraordinary. I've known people who moved to Atlanta because of it, and I know people here in Atlanta take great offense if one mounts any criticism of it. There are many reasons for it.

Some are obvious: its landmark status as an Academy Award winner and one of the highest grossing films, adjusted for inflation, in Hollywood history. There is its technical achievement as an extremely well made and spectacular film in one of Hollywood's strongest years — it's simply a great pleasure to watch. There are the terrific casting and performances by the leads and the secondary cast.

But the film has such a hold over audiences for other reasons as well. The film's ambivalent treatment of Scarlett is one — she is a modern, brash woman in a genteel society who flouts convention to get what she wants however she can, with little introspection. The film admires her energy and drive, but simultaneously mocks her selfishness, her pettiness and her pretensions, largely through Rhett Butler's witty and clear-eyed deflation of her airs. She's a classic melodramatic heroine, one who makes so many mistakes in her life and loves and ultimately comes to realize the opportunities she has missed.

Its deepest appeal, I believe, resides in its portrayal of the tremendous loss and suffering Scarlett endures — the film was a source of inspiration to women struggling through the Great Depression and then World War II across the globe. That portrait endures, even as it is woven into the less-than-progressive racial politics typical of the plantation genre of the 1930s (an area where we should note the film is less offensive than Margaret Mitchell's novel).

You spent some time in the Ransom Center's David O. Selznick archive researching the premiere in Atlanta. What surprises did you find?

The Ransom Center has always been one of my favorite places to undertake research. The Selznick collection is exceptional, and I found many surprises. One might have predicted the amount of work and energy that went into staging the premiere, but it was still extraordinary to see the details that had to be attended to. Selznick let his staff plan away, swooping in only at the end to question and in some cases criticize their work. Another big surprise was a letter I found from one Robert Willis, a member of a theater club on one of Atlanta's black college campuses this student invited the Selznick group to visit the black side of the city. No one to my knowledge had discussed this aspect of the premiere. I had read Selznick's last-minute memos about giving Hattie McDaniel a page in the souvenir program for the premiere, but never knew what inspired that. Overall, the most delightful surprise to me was to see the extent to which Margaret Mitchell had Selznick wrapped around her finger. The dynamic there is extremely amusing.

Selznick and his staff worked for months to plan and execute the premiere in Atlanta. Can you talk about why expectations were so high for the film in Atlanta?

As I mentioned, Selznick was not really involved in the plans. He was far too busy attending to the manifold details involved in "Gone With the Wind's" post-production so that the film would be finished in time for the Atlanta premiere. He delegated the overwhelming majority of the work to his story editor, Kay Brown, who worked with Atlantans as well as the MGM distribution executives in charge of the premiere. Selznick fretted on the sidelines, gave Brown some ideas, but his attention was elsewhere until late November.

As for high expectations, in the 1930s, the white citizens of Atlanta craved attention and validation, partly because of the city's destruction during the Civil War, and partly because of its boosterism. It was a growing city that loomed large regionally, but not nationally. To have one of its residents write a Pulitzer Prize-winning international bestseller stirred a wave of civic pride. Atlanta also loved the movies as much as any city in the 1930s, but not many films were set in Georgia. So Georgians were thrilled at the prospect of seeing an epic production that was sympathetic to the state's ordeal during the Civil War and afterwards. Southerners in general felt Hollywood never represented them fairly — here was a film that promised to do so. Add to that the idea that Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh would be on the streets of the city for the premiere and you can see why white Atlantans — officials, business leaders, civic leaders and ordinary citizens — went crazy over this. White Atlantans, that is. Black Atlanta likewise gloried in the presence of the stars, but some leaders questioned the hoopla and the film itself.

There were controversies over race with the premiere in Atlanta, as producers deemed it unsafe for Hattie McDaniel to attend the event and African American audiences were largely excluded from festivities taking place around the city. Can you talk about how Selznick and his staff approached these issues? 

The Loews' Grand where the premiere took place did not have segregated seating. Black Atlantans waited four months until April to see it in a "colored" theater. Selznick recognized that his film could invite strong attendance among African Americans, and even thought that if black cast members came to Atlanta, they could help promote the film in black neighborhoods.  Kay Brown, like the MGM distribution and advertising executives who planned the premiere, relied heavily on certain Atlantans for advice on many issues, including this one. The "Hollywoodians" knew they were way out of their depth on the "delicate" issue of race relations in the South. Most simply, they followed the advice the Atlantans gave them, which was not to include Hattie McDaniel in the festivities or the souvenir book. Regarding the latter, the rationale was that McDaniel's photo in the program might give some malcontent a basis for criticism of the film and the premiere, something they wanted to avoid. Besides, as guests of the city, the Hollywood folks thought they should follow their hosts' suggestions. Kay Brown put it well: "…while it was unfortunate to exclude Mammy, it was the wisest policy."  They made an unsurprising choice in 1939.


He soon found work in the television productions of Lakota Moon and Miracle in the Wilderness.

Credits: The Native American actor had supporting roles in the movies Dancing Fargo and Last of the Dogmen

After a few more stints on the small screen as well as some commercials, Reeves landed parts in the films Twins and The Doors.

Later he appeared in the movie Dances With Wolves and the 2005 version of The Longest Yard.

His television credits also included Walker, Texas Ranger, Jag and Bones.

Beginnings: Reevis was a member of the Blackfeet Tribe and born in Browning, Montana to Lloyd and Lila Reevis (pictured in Fargo)

First Americans in the Arts honored Reeves with an award for his supporting roles in both Fargo and the TV movie Crazy Horse in 1996.

Reevis is survived by his wife, Macile, and four children - sons Joseph, Kyiyo, Pikuni and his daughter Taywanee.

Foster says funeral arrangements are pending.

Warrior: He also appeared in the movies Dances With Wolves and the 2005 version of The Longest Yard

Studios bypass cinemas with lucrative lockdown premieres

A n animated musical extravaganza about a group of pop-loving trolls may turn out to be the most important film in recent Hollywood history. Trolls World Tour, which has become a lockdown hit, notching up digital sales of $100m (£80m) in three weeks, has become the focal point of a battle that could forever change moviegoing habits in the Netflix era.

With cinemas closed, Hollywood studios are challenging the sacrosanct tradition that multiplexes air films first for up to three months, before their release on other platforms such as pay-TV, DVD and streaming. Instead, they are pushing new films straight to fans at home.

Universal Pictures has been the most aggressive of the Hollywood studios with its strategy for Trolls World Tour. The film had been due for a global cinema release on 10 April, but instead became the most high-profile movie to be made available solely on digital services such as Amazon’s Prime Video at £15.99 ($19.99).

Universal gets a greater cut of revenue from digital services than at the box office, which means the film has made the same amount of profit in its first three weeks as the first Trolls film did during its entire five-month run in US cinemas.

Emboldened by its success, last week the company indicated that it would collapse the cinema release window by releasing films digitally at the same time. “As soon as theatres reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats,” said Jeff Shell, the chief executive of parent company NBCUniversal.

Those comments immediately prompted the world’s two biggest cinema operators – AMC, which owns the Odeon chain in the UK, and Cineworld – to issue a global ban on screenings of all films from the maker of the Fast & Furious and Jurassic World franchises when business restarts. The operators accused Universal of “breaking the business model” that has underpinned the Hollywood movie system for generations.

“Universal has cast the first stone,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst at research firm Exhibitor Relations. “This is exactly what the theatrical exhibition world had always feared – proof that bypassing theatres could be a viable model of distribution for studios. Like it or not, the floodgates have opened. This is just the beginning, and the longer it takes for theatres to open on a worldwide scale, we’re going to see the PVOD [premium video on demand] schedule become more and more populated.”

That schedule is now filling up. Universal announced last week that Judd Apatow’s new comedy The King of Staten Island would scrap its planned cinema release on 19 June and premiere on-demand instead. And Warner Bros is doing the same with Scoob!, the first full-length animated Scooby-Doo film, which was meant to hit cinemas on 15 May.

Lockdown hit Trolls World Tour has notched up sales of £80m since its direct-to-digital release for Universal. Photograph: Photo Credit: DreamWorks Animation LLC/AP

However, when it comes to true blockbusters, Hollywood studios, including Universal, are so far choosing to keep them in cinemas and reschedule their releases. The straight-to-digital strategy is only considered to be viable for mid- and lower-budget films forecast to earn at most a few hundred million at the global box office. The first Trolls film made $346m worldwide.

Disney’s Mulan and Black Widow, the James Bond film No Time To Die, Warner Bros’s Wonder Woman 1984 and Universal’s Minions sequel – all potential $1bn-plus hits – are just some of the titles that have been shifted to later this year with a cinema release still firmly in mind.

Global box-office revenues hit an all-time record of $42bn last year, dominated by blockbusters including Avengers: Endgame. Theatrical release represents a huge slice of income that is difficult for studios to ignore. When a film’s big-screen run is finished, there is a second wave of income from digital and on-demand services this double-window revenue stream would disappear if multiplexes were taken out of the equation.

“Studios are not releasing ‘tier one’ titles on PVOD,” said Richard Broughton, analyst at research firm Ampere. “It’s unlikely that PVOD will be able to replace theatrical revenues for these titles. PVOD releases would also likely cannibalise secondary windows. If you rent a film for £15.99, you’re not then going to rent it again for £5.99 a few months later. But you might do that if you had seen it at the cinema first.”

Scarlett Johansson, star of Black Widow big blockbusters are likely still to premiere in cinemas. Photograph: AP

There are also other issues making a total shift away from cinemas unlikely, for now at least. China, for example, along with many developing countries, has a tiny digital-video rental market, which would severely limit income from direct digital releases, whereas it boasts the world’s second-biggest cinema box office market, at $9bn a year.

And with PVOD releases such as Trolls priced at $19.99, it is unlikely that the strategy will work outside high-income markets such as the US and the UK.

However, coronavirus has sideswiped cinema chains, which means direct-to-digital successes such as Trolls give studios more leverage. “Trolls is operating under optimal conditions – lockdown, kids at home and limited competing media,” says Broughton. “Having said this, the success of Trolls does offer studios leverage with cinema owners for a greater share of box office income for secondary titles. The option of the PVOD window improves their positioning.”

Unless Covid-19 causes longer-term closures or serious attendance issues in cinemas, the chains remain confident they will return to the top of the pecking order for film releases.

“These circumstances will not persist and should not be taken by anyone as a sign of lasting change,” said Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association, the national trade body for cinema operators.

“We are absolutely confident that when cinemas are able to reopen safely, the public will once again respond to the unsurpassable big-screen experience. After people have been required to spend weeks and sometimes months in lockdown, it seems unlikely, to say the least, that the first response of many will be ‘let’s stay in and watch a film.’”

But if audiences do decide to bypass cinemas and stay in, Hollywood studios will have to follow them.

Watch the video: Dances with Wolves (June 2022).