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Studio
HBO
MSRP $26.98
Rated
TV-14
Running
Time
132 minutes
Special
Features

  • Audio commentaries with
    director Yves Simoneau, Adam Beach and Aidan Quinn
  • Making History – Behind the
    Scenes look into the production of the film, including interviews with the
    cast and crew
  • The Heart of a People
    Historical perspective of the American Indian experience as depicted in
    the film
  • Telling the Story – The
    journey of the book to the screen
  • Interactive on-screen
    historical guide prepared by the film’s screenwriter
  • Photo Gallery

 

THE
PITCH

America needs gold, so The Sioux must die.

THE
HUMANS

Aidan
Quinn, Adam Beach, Anna Paquin, Wes Studi, Colm Feore and J.K. Simmons


THE
NUTSHELL

HBO Films
is the home of motion pictures that the bigger studios would kill to have in
their Oscar bait slate. 2007 was no exception, as Bury My Heart at
Wounded Knee led this year’s Emmy
Nominations. Taken from a small section of the original novel, the film follows
the Caucasian raised Charles Eastman as he works with Senator Henry Dawes.
Together they hope to find a solution to the growing nation’s desire for more
land.

THE
LOWDOWN

Bury My
Heart at
Wounded
Knee

debuted on HBO over the Memorial Day Weekend of this year. Marking a break from
the final two episodes of The Sopranos, I decided to take a shot on the film.
I had picked up the book before, but like most Americans…it went back down and
was never opened again.

The film
reads as a short trip through the rich history that the novel covers. Years
pass in seconds, as director Yves Simoneau forces the conflict between Dawes
and Eastman to center stage. Starting with the Battle of Little Big Horn, the
film pushes past Custer’s Last Stand and towards the worsening relations
between the Native American Tribes of America and the government in
Washington.

Charles
Eastman is introduced to
America by the Washington social circles as being the great
hope of the Indians. He’s an Ivy Leagued educated young man who’s going to
marry a white schoolteacher. Eastman has made peace with the new government and
he can be an example to those that follow Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Thus,
Eastman gets thrust into an awkward position as Senator Henry Dawes pushes
Eastman forward as an economic bridge to the West.



The Black Hills have tons of gold and the United States is in the throes of a depression
following the massive spending of the American Civil War. Eastman doesn’t
appreciate being used as a token representation of the assembled Indian
nations, but he knows that by blending the Native Americans in with the
United States…it’s their only shot at a
continued future.

The time
of outward violence is coming to an end for a people that can’t compete with
the benefits of an organized
First World nation. You can’t outrun trains and you can’t stop
the United States Army with arrows. But, the combined stubborn nature of these
two men makes the matter worse. They can’t talk to the Indians, they talk at
them. Giving them punch card rations to survive the winter, they take away
their independence and teach them to become dependent on the
U.S. government to provide for them.

Bury My
Heart at
Wounded
Knee
is
a hard film to watch, as it should be. Yves Simoneau doesn’t pull any punches
with his depiction of the last fifteen years of Sioux independence in the
United States. While we don’t get the weepy
melodrama that seems to accompany films of this nature, we’re offered the
briefest look into what actually happened.

It’s not
that brevity poses a disservice to the material; it’s just that a mini-series
could’ve opened this difficult era in American History to a new generation.
But, we can’t fault HBO for not doing the work that the American Educational
System should’ve done. The audience can take solace in the fact that there’s a
channel out there dedicated to such high-quality films.


THE
PACKAGE

Packaged
in a book style binding similar to HBO’s prior releases of Angels in
America and Empire Falls, this film will keep the uniform
look of the HBO Films that have made it to
DVD. Well, except for Gia. That
damn Gia looks at me from my
DVD shelf with spite. Sure, you had
full frontal nudity, but why can’t you fit the greater design scheme?

In terms
of special features, we’re offered a really standard bag. Sure, it does a good
job at looking at the road from the Novel to Production. But, there’s not a
whole lot of variety. Well, there’s the interactive historical guide that reads
as dry as the instructions on the back of a Shampoo bottle. But, where are
those features that make you seek this
DVD out?


That’s
why it falls onto the superb presentation quality found in the feature
presentation. A flawless Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is matched by a digitally
clean transfer that makes the most out of the resources afforded to it by the
luscious landscapes contained in this film.   
  

 

8.1 out
of 10