Soldier Blue

October 13, 2012

Solider Blue (1970), another one of those films I heard about when young, but never saw.  It made quite a stir with its depictions of savage violence against the Indians, one of the first ‘revisionist’ westerns, in the line of Little Big Man, Dances with Wolves, etc.  The film has been ruthlessly criticized in these two blogs:  Celluloid Wall; and Nothing is Written.  The second writer went so far as to call it a “tacky piece of filth.”

It’s really not a very good film, it’s true.  Candice Bergen somehow manages to keep her golden hair and white skin despite two years captivity with the Cheyenne, and the middle part is taken up with a silly romantic ‘comedy’ between the escaped soldier and her.  All told from the vantage point of the white man, yes.  Still, calling it “filth” seems extreme.  The writer says the violence at the end, depicting the Sand Creek Massacre is cartoonish and nearly’ laughable.’  Reading historical accounts of the events should dispel that notion.  One reviewer says the gore is ‘nearly exploitative.’  Nearly?  It is, or it isn’t.  Perhaps he meant that it made him uncomfortable, partly because he realized its representation was justified.

The film was  a flop.  The resemblance of the final, climactic atrocities to the recently reported Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam probably didn’t help, but again, it’s mostly of historical interest than an engaging piece of cinema.

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