Representations of Native Americans in Dances with Wolves and The Searchers

1379 Words 6 Pages
“Film is more than the instrument of a representation; it is also the object of representation. It is not a reflection or a refraction of the ‘real’; instead, it is like a photograph of the mirrored reflection of a painted image.” (Kilpatrick) Although films have found a place in society for about a century, the labels they possess, such as stereotypes which Natives American are recognized for, have their roots from many centuries ago (Kilpatrick). The Searchers, a movie directed by John Ford and starred by John Wayne, tells the story of a veteran of the American Civil War and how after his return home he would go after the maligned Indians who killed his family and kidnapped his younger niece. After struggling for five years to recover …show more content…
These harmful images of how the Indian Americans were depicted, were subliminally created by him in many of his previous films where they were repeatedly stereotyped under the maligned appearance of bloodthirsty savages and hardly ever illustrated by their alter ego the noble savages. These descriptions and especially the denigrated bloodthirsty savage illustrations of the Indians remain seen as purely animals into the eyes of non-native populations, which caused racial discrimination against them at that epoch. Therefore, John Ford tried to redeem himself by making the film The Searchers, where he tried to expose the nefarious causes of resentment and racism that at that time the general population had for the Indians. This way of apology is likely to be strong supported by the image of the film’s hero. The depiction of the hero stresses the despicable habits of the westerners such as the tendency of the prejudices towards others. As shown by the arrival of the John Wayne character to his brother’s house and how he looked at Martin who is half-blood Indian. Similarly, Dances with Wolves represented an explicit apology to the indigenous people. However, although it was made by a white person point of view, it emphasizes Indians’ points of view. This is implicitly represented as the hero who is a white soldier from the American Civil War transformed himself into a real Indian of the Lakota Sioux tribe. Although both films symbolize intentions of apology to the
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