The objective of Thunder Heart film is to establish a different form of the Wild West in contradiction of Hollywood where American Indians are portrayed as uncivilized, violent and salvage. The movie is trying to get away from this sensation and to show how the American government has treated Native American. The opening episode begins with native Indians performing a Pow Wow dance early in the morning as the sun is rising. This portrays beautiful scenery with the blue sky and orange light at the bottom of the waking sun. This shows that Native Americans are very spiritual and they take their culture very seriously compared to the life style of white Americans.
The community through forming a tight bond performs Pow-wow dance to renew old thoughts and to preserve a rich heritage (Neer, 2009). Native Indians believe that without this bond they have nothing left to believe. Native American has a shot medium close up, this has given them a sense of power, and they do not consider things from outsiders are part of American dream. Cameras carry on capturing the entire scenery where the Indians are performing their dance. There are mounts surrounding the ceremony and this shows that the Indians coexist with nature and nothing has changed over the years in connection to the landscape. This portrays that they are isolated from outside world because there are few people who have attended the ceremony. It means that there are few native Indians left because a large number of people should have attended the ceremony.
As the light gets stronger native Indians starts fading away. This symbolizes that white American invaded the land of native Indians very fast and it appears as if it happened overnight. The native Indians become invisible as if they were not there and they were only part of history. The background music played consists of shamanic drums, native Indian flute and soft songs (Neer, 2009). These songs are relaxing, peaceful and make the audience connected to nature and experience native culture. Long shot in the scene gives the audience perfect view Badland’s scenery. There is no major change in the landscape showing that the native Indians respect the natural habitat.
The next scene is depressing to the audience because they see things they did not expect. This scene begins with an Indian man running away with his hair swept way by wind. The clear sky and the sun gives a warm feeling and being at the center of the screen his beauty is more revealed to the audience and he appears he is free as a wind. However, as he gets closer the audience notices that he is breathing heavily showing that things are not the way they appear. The audience is made to believe by the American government that everything is okay but until they witness somebody being shot in cold blood. This shows that white Americans do not care because they treat people like animals. This portrays that white Americans are the hunters while native Indians are the prey. It shows that the FBI who are expected to restore order are the same people committing these crimes. People at the top position in the government believe that the native do not fit in the society hence they are trying to make this people come to term with the present and forget about the past. This is a reflection of how the white man is trying to change cultures of the indigenous people. This is because cultures of the indigenous are hindering their objective of being on the move. The white man believes that hard labor pays.
The above scene of place reflects the weakest element of the story. It is assumed that because the Kilmer character is a quarter Indian he will be able to judge between good and evil. An FBI agent during this time would have a difficult time in choosing between his roots and playing according to the rules in the book. The rules in the book would have definitely won. There is a sense that human beings have superior acting.
Most movies about Native Americans revolve around their distant part in the history of America but Thunder heart is the first movie to show Native American lives in more contemporary issues. The movie took place in the 1970’s when there was the radical A.I.M. During this period, actual treason was committed since the actions of the Native Americans were extreme (Neer, 2009). Many members of A.I.M went to exile because the FBI and the government viewed the Native Americans as non-Americans. A.I.M wanted their rights to be fully recognized by the white Americans. The movie is a reflection of the injustices that occurred to Native Americans during that time. The movie sets the mood of those times, which is very frustrating. This is not a lighthearted movie as it gives fanatic revelations on why many Native Americans became radical. This is because they wanted to uncover the truths and seek true justice. There are members of A.I.M who are casted as extras in the movie especially the founders of the organization. It is surprisingly to note that the government did not censor the movie yet it portrays negative workings and operations of the FBI.
The film was shot in South Dakota at pine reservation. The opening scenes were shot in Washington D.C. there are many Indian actors in the film and some of their roles reflect their real lives. The film has received positive reviews and has received nominations from political awards.
Thunder heart is an educative movie since it uncovers the frustrations and mistreatments the Native Americans experienced. It also educates the audience on the importance of conserving nature and embracing their cultures. Cultures help people to follow a moral conduct on their daily activities. The audience also discovers how the American government covered up the ruthless actions they committed to the Native Americans.
The objective of Thunder Heart film is to establish a different form of the Wild West in contradiction of Hollywood where American Indians are portrayed as uncivilized, violent and salvage. Native Indians believe that without this bond they have nothing left to believe. Native American has a shot medium close up, this has given them a sense of power, and they do not consider things from outsiders are part of American dream. Most movies about Native Americans revolve around their distant part in the history of America but Thunder heart is the first movie to show Native American lives in more issues that are contemporary. The movie is a reflection of the injustices that occurred to Native Americans during that time.
Neer, M. (2009). Movie Review: Thunderheart. Retrieved on March 28 2013 from,