A CAREFULLY DOCUMENTED EPIC THAT ATTEMPTED TO REALISTICALLY PORTRAY THE LIFE OF AMERICAN SIOUX IN THE EARLY 19TH CENTURY. WHEN AN ENGLISH LORD IS CAPTURED BY A SIOUX INDIAN TRIBE, HE IS GIVEN TO THE CHIEF'S AGING MOTHER AS... more » A SERVANT. GRADUALLY, HE EMBRACES THE TRIBE'S WAY OF LIFE.« less
Maximiliano F Yofre | Buenos Aires, Argentina | 09/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm always fascinated with books & movies that deal with the interaction of subjects from different cultures such as "Shogun", "Lawrence of Arabia", "Dances with Wolves" or "Broken Arrow". The film "A Man Called Horse" (1970) had a very special place in my memory. At times I caught myself thinking about some of its scenes deemed by the years and felt sorry that wasn't shown in TV or available to hire. Searching into Amazon I finally found it and of course I bought it. I've just finished watching it and I'm delighted with the revival.
It tells the story of an English Lord in 1825 that is hunting & sightseeing Wild America, far away from "civilization". He is captured by a Sioux warriors party and kept by its chief as a horse. In this quality the chief gift him to his mother. A hard apprenticeship starts for the Englishman, step by step he rises himself from "horse" to warrior to leader. Along with his hardships he comes to understand, admire and adopt this culture so different to his own but full of human values.
Harris performs his part with deep conviction and is one of the best of his career. The rest of the cast is of multinational extraction: Manu Tupou fleshing Chief Yellowhand is Fijian, Judith Anderson, his mother is a distinguished performer of Macbeth & Medea, Corinna Tsopei sister of the Chief and lover of the Englishman is Greek and Miss Universe 1964, Eddie Little Sky performs as Black Eagle, Iron Eyes Cody the Medicine Man was born Italian and later adopted Native American identity and married a Native American woman. Real Native Americans performs as Warriors. Is this a drawback? Is it necessary to be Native American to flesh one? I don't think so. We do not expect actual Romans to impersonate Emperors or Egyptians to pass as Pharaohs. One of the other objections to the film is the atrocious pronunciation of the Lakota language, but this is only perceptible by very few. I'm used to hear horrible Spanish in American films and that does not irk me. The bottom-line is that the movie tries to show a realistic approach to the surroundings of a man thrown in an alien environment.
Even with its flaws this film moved me to admire and respect Native American culture and start reading and investigating on the subject. A groundbreaking work from the earlier Seventies!!!! Reviewed by Max Yofre.
Don't Believe Everything You Read About This Film
Cory D. Slipman | 05/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"RE: A note to those confused about "white" men becoming Indian chiefs . . . so frustrating it is when some people criticize that which they clearly know nothing of.The following is from the back cover of a book depicting a true story. The book is called BLUE JACKET by Allan W. Eckert, Landfall Press, Inc., Dayton, Ohio, Copyright 1969 by Allan W. Eckert:"In the year 1771, a white boy named Marmaduke Van Swearingen was captured by Shawnee Indians in what is now West Virginia but was then the edge of the American frontier. Impressed with his bravery, he was not killed but instead was taken to Ohio where he was adopted into the tribe and given the name Blue Jacket, from the blue shirt he was wearing at the time of his capture. The boy grew to excel as a warrior and leader and became the only white to be made war cheif of the Shawnee."So famous is this story that every summer in Xenia, Ohio, very near where many of the noteworthy historical exents depicted in this book actually took place, the story of BLUE JACKET is performed live on stage in an ampitheatre in the form of classic outdoor drama.Good people, don't allow the ignorance of others to mislead you into their conclusions. Indeed, this film is highly entertaining whether it is well-researched or not; and it does stand upon its own merit against the test of time whether or not some people who write negative rewiews of this film have well-researched this film and the validity of its subject matter or not. My opinion is to hand controversy over to the controversial; and instead allow for the art of filmmaking to color your own, personal take on this movie as you experience this film and all it means to you instead of what it means to others; for far more colorful and enjoyable this film will be when taken in the context in which it was clearly intended to be, and that is the study of a man who is desperately struggling to uncover his own personal values, and then discover what to do with them. Richard Harris delivers a soulful and well-rounded performance that, if missed, would surely be unfortunate. Yes indeed, five stars for A MAN CALLED HORSE."
Better than Dances With Wolves
Steven Hellerstedt | 08/07/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"An English nobleman, visiting circa-1820 America, is kidnapped by a band of Sioux warriors. Before you can say `Lord Greystoke" John Morgan (Richard Harris) is adapting to the strange and savage savages, and integrating himself into their strange and savage culture. That adaptation, of course, ultimately results in Lord John having a pair of splinters driven deep under his chest muscles and getting hoisted high in the air by a rope attached to those splinters. After this initiation ceremony Horse/Lord John/Harris becomes a respected warrior in the tribe. The scene, gruesomely realistic when A MAN CALLED HORSE was released in 1970, still works pretty well today.
I recommend this movie with, no pun intended, reservations. Director Elliot Silverstein does a good job of presenting the story from Harris's point of view. His initial capture and harsh treatment is appropriately exciting and unsettling. Harris is good in the physically demanding lead role, and conveys well the disorientation Lord John feels and his gradually increasing confidence in the hostile environment. And it's always nice to have a movie pay attention to details when it takes place in a foreign and exotic location - in this case a Sioux tribe in the early decades of the 19th century. The small stuff, as far as I can tell, is accurately related.
On the other hand, the `Tarzan factor' always has to be taken into account. White English nobleman travels to the colony, is kidnapped by the `natives' and, through inherent superiority, rises to a position of power and prestige in the foreign environment. At least A MAN CALLED HORSE treats the Sioux with interest and respect, and even has a few Native Americans, most notably Eddie Little Sky, among the cast. Well, Iron Eyes Cody, the `Crying Indian' some of us may remember from anti-pollution television commercials of the `70s, has a part in it too. But I've just learned, to my surprise, that Iron Eyes Cody was a second-generation, full blooded Italian from Louisiana whose real name was Espera DeCorti. Who'da thunk? Yellow Hand, the chief who claims initial ownership of Horse, is played by Manu Tupou (Fiji Islands.) Running Deer, Horse's eventual love interest, is played by Corinna Tsopei, Miss Greece 1964. Perhaps the most intriguing bit of casting is the actress who plays Yellow Hand's mother and Horse's opening day tormenter, Buffalo Cow Head - beneath the brown grease paint and buckskin robe it's no other than the redoubtable Dame Judith Anderson.
A MAN CALLED HORSE was followed, a half decade or so later, by RETURN OF A MAN CALLED HORSE. I haven't seen the second one but enjoyed the first well enough to bury it deep in a rental queue. "
A Man Called Horse
Joseph Bellinger | USA | 06/28/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I happen to disagree with the reviewer who thought the movie unfairly portrayed the Indian milieu. On the contrary, it was quite accurate. As accurate, in fact, as the movie Blackfoot, the only difference being that one tribe was of the west and the other tribe of the eastern nations. The culture as portrayed in a Man called Horse was obviously well-researched from an historical point of view. Life amongst the Crow Indians was indeed harsh and brutal, and the "sun" ritual was portrayed with amazing realism. When the warlike tribes went to war, there was neither quarter taken nor given. Yet one cannot help but sympathize with the characters as portrayed in the movie. A classic movie and a job well done."
Authentic and brutal rite of passage
Cory D. Slipman | Rockville Centre, N.Y. | 05/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Harris stars as John Morgan a privileged but bored English nobleman hunting in the Northwest in the 1820's. He is captured and his party slain by a band of Sioux Indians. Brought back to their village he is presented to the aged mother of the chief, Buffalo Cow Head played by Dame Judith Anderson. He is degraded, dehumanized and must serve as the old lady's slave.
"A Man Called Horse" was extensively researched as to the lifestyle among the Sioux at this time and portrayed in beautifully photographed and acted out fashion. Harris gradually embraces the way of the Sioux and is schooled by another prisoner Batiste, a half Indian and half Frenchman who acts as his interpreter.
Harris falls in love with the sister of the chief, Running Deer played by the gorgeous raven haired Corinna Tsopei, a former Miss Universe from Greece. The chief, Yellow Hand played by Manu Tupou will not approve of their marriage until Harris undergoes the Sun Vow, a harsh, hurtful ceremony to prove his bravery.
Filmed in both Mexico and South Dakota with a large native American supporting cast, the movie goes on to effectively portray the tragedy that follows Harris and the Sioux tribe as they struggle for survival in the competitive environment they populated back in those days.