Directed by: Kevin Costner
Written by: Michael Blake
Produced by: Kevin Costner, Jim Wilson
Other cast: Kevin Costner, Graham Greene, Rodney A. Grant, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Tantoo Cardinal
Release date: November 21, 1990
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Western
Running time: 3h 1min
Lt. John Dunbar, exiled to a remote western Civil War outpost, befriends wolves and Indians, making him an intolerable aberration in the military.
♦ He also asks if you would watch over his family while he is gone.
[pauses] This thing he asks of you is a great honor.
♦ When I came to live on the prarie, I worked every day… very hard… there was a woman who didn’t like me. She called me bad names… sometimes she beat me. One day she was calling me these bad names, her face in my face, and I hit her. I was not very big, but she fell down. She fell hard and didn’t move. I stood over her with my fist and asked if any other woman wanted to call me bad names… No one bothered me after that day.
♦ My place is with you. I go where you go.
In Mary’s words…
I don’t even see Dances With Wolves as part of my career, in a way. I see it as something that happened to me in my life that changed me and kind of opened a path of completely different awareness in me. It was an all-encompassing experience of being able to actualize a story that desperately needed telling in our culture, and it was done in such an excellent way that one really believed for that five months out in the prairie, at moments, that that’s exactly where we were, that we were being these people. You didn’t really have to spend a lot of time getting ready. You kind of landed.
I remember changing planes in Rapid City and taking a smaller plane over to Pierre, the capital of South Dakota, and flying low over the plains, looking down, this little girl who’d just left Manhattan, and thinking, “Oh, what have I done? What am I thinking? There is nothing down there. There’s nothing there! Just tumbleweeds! I am a fraud. This is going to be the biggest failure. This is going to be the one that’s going to point out to me, ‘Give it up.’” And then you landed in this place, and people start to meet and greet you, and then you’re up every morning really early, and you’re out at the rodeo place, getting on your horse, trying to ride it bareback. And then you go to bow-and-arrow school and language class. And then eventually you start meeting, truly meeting and getting to know, Native Americans from the Rosebud reservation, and you kind of go, “Oh, something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.” [Laughs.] Not to be corny, but that’s what came up!
By the end of it, I felt like there has been a horrible, horrible tragedy—genocide—committed at the foundation, at the beginning of our country, that has not been atoned for. We have not made atonement for it. And this was at least a chance to contribute to some kind of collective awareness that that even needed to happen. Also, working inside a story that actually was in the faces and lives of the Native Americans that we were working with, was actually tapping into their true genetic memory and the results in their families as they are now. There was something quite remarkable about it, and it was much more than having a great acting job, which it also was. But the experience of doing it? I didn’t even recognize it as an acting job. [from “Mary McDonnell on Battlestar Galactica and going mute in front of Robert Redford” by Will Harris]