Dances with Wolves Overview

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The story of “Dances With Wolves” revolves around a U.S. Union Army Lieutenant and his developing of a relationship with the Sioux Indians (Costner). In my opinion, all of the events in the film can be separated into three sections: before making contact with the Natives, meeting with and developing a relationship with the Natives, and choosing what side to stay with at the end. I think the most important message in the film, out of very many, is that even the worst of enemies could very well be friends if given time to communicate with one another.

The first section of the film, before making contact with the Natives, takes place during a United States Civil War battle in an unspecified location. In the opening scene, Lt. John J. Dunbar wakes up to find that his injured leg has to be amputated. After seeing how other soldiers with amputated limbs struggled and suffered, he decided it was not worth it and attempted suicide by riding a horse directly across the line of fire of the opposing Confederate forces. To Dunbar’s surprise, the attempted suicide actually inspires his comrades while creating a diversion for them to storm the Confederate forces, leading to an overwhelming victory. After the battle, a General, impressed with Dunbar’s “heroic” actions, has his own experienced surgeon save Dunbar’s injured leg. He is then named a hero and awarded Cisco, the horse he rode into the battle, as well as the option to be assigned to any post he wished. In my own perspective, these events could be a foreshadowing of how Dunbar “saves” Stands With A Fist from suicide later in the film.

Later, Dunbar meets with Major Fambrough, who appears to be intoxicated, and requests to be stationed at the Western Frontier. He is then assigned to be escorted by a trader named Timmons to his new post. After Timmons and Dunbar leave, Fambrough commits suicide by shooting himself with his pistol, which, I believe, conveys the message that the “modern” and “educated” white people...
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