Shocking even today. Watch this film and weep.
- Soldier Blue review by RP
Until the last 15 minutes or so you might find this to be a fairly run-of-the-mill Western: Indians attack US cavalry troop, two survivors (naive private + woman who has been freed from Indian captivity) trek across country making for Fort Reunion.
But the final 15 minutes shows the hideous slaughter of defenceless women and children as they cower in tepees while the cavalry bombard a Cheyenne village with cannon fire and charge with sabres drawn. The ensuing massacre and mutilation is shown in gruesome detail.
I saw this at the cinema waaaaaaaay back in 1970 and was shocked - and it's still shocking today. Recently, a friend who worked at a cinema at the time said that of all the hundreds of films she had seen there, this was the one that she simply couldn't watch.
It is a re-telling of the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre (look it up on Wikipedia) when some 30 men and 100 women and children were killed and seeing this film led me to take an interest in native American history and to read historian Dee Brown's book 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee'.
The film is beautifully photographed, the songs from Buffy Sainte-Marie (herself of Cree Indian stock) are evocative, and while Candice Bergen's acting and the character she plays are somewhat anachronistic, this does not detract from the power of the film.
It is perhaps a commentary on today's sensibilities that this film is still cut - but today, the cuts are not to spare us from the bloodshed and killings and the depiction of man's inhumanity to man, but according to the BBFC, "to remove the presence of cruel, dangerous and illegal horse falls". Words fail me.
5/5 stars - a little high perhaps, but this reflects the impact the film had on me. Watch it and weep.
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