Dances with Wolves (1990)

9.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great scenery, saved the Western

Simple story, Kevin Costner is his normal self

Movie Info

Movie Name: Dances with Wolves

Studio: Tig Productions

Genre(s): Western/Drama

Release Date(s): November 21, 1990

MPAA Rating: PG-13


Love me…love my mullet!

Lt. Dunbar (Kevin Costner) having barely survived the Civil War now heads west for uncharted territory. Assigned to a distant fort in the Dakotas, Dunbar finds himself alone waiting for human contact. With only his horse and a wolf he named Two-Socks, Dunbar finds himself trying to befriend the local Sioux tribe. His dealings with the tribe begin to cause him to question his standing with the United States and a relationship with a white woman among the tribe called Stands With A Fist (Mary McDonnell). Dunbar finds himself trapped between two worlds and forced to make a decision.


Someday, humans might travel the stars…maybe in giant “Battlestars”…maybe called Galactica.

Directed by Kevin Costner, Dances With Wolves went on to be the Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound, and Best Adapted Screenplay in 1990. It took a lot to get Dances with Wolves to the screen and the idea of a big budget Western (which were essentially dead at the time) was unheard of.

Dances with Wolves (the name refers to Costner’s character’s Sioux name) is pretty simplistic in its story adapted from the novel by Michael Blake. The idea that a man, alone in the wild, can “go native” with the indigenous population makes complete sense. The simple story is bolstered by great sweeping images of an untouched West that gives the viewers a feeling of isolation. It does the typical over-the-top White Men are bad, but it does have some good even moments in which the gentle Sioux kill white hunters for slaughtering buffalo for their hides.


You want some land…ok, we’ve got plenty…I’m sure this won’t be a problem

The acting is rather so-so. Costner is his normal flat self (and sporting the 1990s Kevin Costner mullet). It works in this story however since he is reading portions of his journal and really doesn’t have many scenes that require a lot of hard emotional acting. McDonnell’s interesting stuttered dialect provides more for her character to do, but Graham Greene as Kicking Bird and Rodney A. Grant as Wind In His Hair probably give the best performances in the film as the gentle medicine man and the contrasting Sioux warrior.

Dances with Wolves is incredibly long (a director’s cut is about four hours in length), but it goes relatively fast. A sequel to the film has been kicked about and the author wrote an acclaimed sequel novel The Holy Road that would be the basis if it ever gets off the ground. Watching Dances with Wolves again does show how bad of a rip-off Avatar was…come on Cameron, get your own plot or Stands With A Fist might take you out!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response