Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: The Epic Fall of the American Indian Yves Simoneau

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee:  The Epic Fall of the American Indian Yves Simoneau
This film, while a tad slow to get off its feet, reveals itself to be a powerful, well-acted piece of tragedy. It follows the late 19th Century struggles of the Sioux Indian tribes who find themselves face-to-face with White Europeans seeking control over their rich and bountiful lands. They are lead by powerful Chief Sitting Bull, played with majesty by August Schellenberg, in what should be a star-making performance. Soon, the Sioux find themselves living on reservations designated by the American settlers. The Sioux are falling to disease and a loss of their traditions. In the middle of this is Dr. Charles Eastman (Adam Beach, the other standout performance), a Sioux removed from his home as a child and educated as a doctor in white schools. He finds himself torn watching his people suffer and die while feeling a longing for a greater connection to his roots. He is a firecracker on screen. Criminally underused in this film is the terrific Anna Paquin as Elaine Goodale, a schoolteacher and rights activist on the reservation. Bury My Heart is shot with grace and beauty. Lots of steadicam and crane shots give the scenes a slow rhythm that allows one to appreciate the beauty of the art direction. The battle scenes are shot at regular speed, sparing no carnage and thereby showing the unglamorous gore of war. As compelling as the film is, the project is overly ambitious and attempts to cram a miniseries worth of material into two hours and it becomes overwhelming at times. If there is anything that one takes away from this film it is the importance of learning these lessons of history so that our present-day injustices don’t become our cultural regrets of the future. A bonus disc includes several featurettes about the making of the film, as well as its historical significance. In addition, there are two commentaries, one from the director and one by the cast. (Warner)