Before the United States Of America was formed in the 18th century, before the first European colonists set up shop on the east coast, even before Christopher Columbus set sail for the new world in the 15th centuries, even before the Vikings arrived in North America around the year 1000, The American Indian's inhabited the land that we now know as the United States Of America.
The American Indian's are a very fascinating people, they have a culture that is steeped in Religious tradition, they're history is both a sad one and yet a history that American Indian's should be proud of. Being as they were the first ones here, and have survived alot! From European colonial expansion, to eventually being placed on reservations.
With that said, in the modern day the U.S. Government and the Indian nations live together in peace. But despite the fact that Indian's have had to modernize with the times they still maintain their wonderfully rich culture.
You might be wondering why I have mentioned this little history lesson, well simply put, I recently discovered the movie Thunderheart, a very fascinating movie about the duality of the basic American culture, and the Native American culture, and the choices that we have to make…
Written by: John Fusco (Young Guns) Directed by: Michael Apted (Nell) and starring Val Kilmer (True Romance), Sam Shepard (The Pelican Brief) and Graham Greene (Rain Without Thunder).
Thunderheart tells the story of F.B.I. Agent Ray Levoi (Kilmer) Levoi is a very by the book modern 1990s man, he drives a roughly current for the movie year car (I believe a Mustang), he works at the F.B.I's headquarters in Washington D.C. I mean this guy is so by the book, squeaky clean that his clothing in the beginning looks like it is constantly being dry cleaned because it always looks to me like his clothes are always wrinkle free! Another facet of Levoi, is that Levoi's family history comes from all over Europe, but the one segment of his family history that he is not only not proud of, is the fact that he is 1/4 Soux Indian…
The reason for this is his father, a man who was half Indian, but some one that drank himself to death, and who perverted his cultural upbringing so much that it appears that he actually killed himself because of his cultural beliefs!
So it comes with some surprise when Special Agent William Dawes (Played by: Fred Thompson), who is Levoi's boss calls him in to his office to let him know that there has been a series of murders out at the Bear Creek Indian Reservation in South Dakota that are being attributed to an Indian 'Terrorist' Organization by the name of A.R.M. (The ARM which stands for 'Aboriginal Right Movement' is a movement that believes in returning Native American's back to their roots, before the European settlers came around).
During this assignment Levoi is going to be assisting the Special Agent out there, a man by the name of Frank 'Cooch' Coutelle in the Sensitive Cases Unit…
After all of this is done, Levoi heads off to South Dakota to meet up with Coutelle, when he gets their, the 2 of them head out to the site where the latest victim, a man by the name of Leo Fast Elk (A Native American man that had been shot up by an automatic weapon.)
During this initial investigation the 2 Agents are confronted by a Tribal Police Officer by the name of Walter Crow Horse (Greene). Crow Horse has come out to the murder site to pick up the body and take it out of the canyon that it had been in to prepare the body and the spirit for the next world… But due to Levoi's prejudice against Indian's, Levoi panics, and acts like he is about ready to kill the man!
After Crow Horse identifies himself to the 2 Agents, Coutelle gets Levoi to release Crow Horse, Coutelle and Levoi take off and head back to their main base of operations (which is a run down Motel room). As they are heading to the Motel though, they are stopped by Tribal Police Security Forces. This gets Levoi to act brash again and pull out his weapon again. Coutelle gets him to stop this and they pull over to the side of the road…
There they meet with the leader of the road block, a man by the name of Jack Milton (Milton is a pro government Indian, played by Fred Ward). Their they talk for a few minutes, after this they head back to the Motel, where they begin plans to start arresting members of ARM…
After this is done both Levoi and Coutelle head over to an Indian Sweat Lodge ceremony with a bunch of the Tribal Security Forces. During this time they arrest a lot of people including Jimmy Looks Twice (The member of ARM that they are looking for). When they get to Jimmy's house, Jimmy tricks Coutelle in to looking for a key to his house in a hole under his porch… A Beaver bites his hand, when looks under there.
This gives Jimmy the opportunity that he needs to escape, and in a hail of gunfire ends up escaping successfully!
Later on, a posse is formed to search every where to try and find Jimmy, the posse tears up buildings all over the reservation, trying to find him. After this comes to no avail, Levoi heads back to the murder site on his own, while trying to find something they may have missed.
During this time, Crow Horse is standing their doing an Indian ritual, when he notices that Levoi is standing there. Crow Horse heads up to talk to Levoi and try and convince him to go out to Maggie Eagle Bear's house because that was the most likely area as to where Leo Fast Elk would have been murdered due to some special rock that could only be found in the river that crosses there.
The next day Levoi heads out to Maggie Eagle Bear's place and begins to take samples and collect evidence, when he sees an older woman that is walking in the distance. He tries to get her attention to no avail… At this point a pick up truck is heading down the road. This again gets him to panic and he grabs a shot gun, and gets ready for a fire fight with whom ever shows up… Of course who shows up is Maggie Eagle Bear, her kids and a man in a wheel chair by the name of Richard Yellow Hawk.
After Yellow Hawk and Eagle Bear's kids head in to the house, Eagle Bear and Lavoi begin to talk. During this time she badgers him about his own Indian roots and then heads inside, after this Levoi has his first Indian vision!
With that said, with this murder proving to likely be bigger then what he originally thought that it would be, Lavoi is going to have to get over his prejudice, and reconcile his own family past, or else he will never solve the biggest case of his life!
Now what I like about this movie, and what I truly feel makes this an awesome B movie is a couple of things:
1. First off this movie is quite visually stunning, The desert is a beautiful place and since this movie is based in the desert, it has some really stunning visuals in it.
2. I also liked the over all message of learning to over come one's prejudice about a particular race, color or creed (or what ever the case maybe)
3. Since this movie is loosely based on the accounts of what happened at the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in the 1970s, I found it to be a rather fascinating retelling of a sad point in history, and maybe to give some justice to those that lost some one in that fight!
Anyway if your looking for a great movie that can be truly described as an Awesome B Movie! Then I highly recommend checking this out, it is a very fascinating piece!