It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Why, its ads asked, does "Soldier Blue" show, "in the most graphic way possible, the rape and savage slaughter of American Indians by American soldiers?" Because it's true, the ads replied, and "now more than ever is the time for truth."
Now more than ever is also the time for violence in movies, a point that hasn't been lost on the makers of "Soldier Blue." "Soldier Blue" is indeed savage, but it wears its clock of "truth" self-consciously. It is supposed to be a pro-Indian movie, and at the end the camera tells us the story was true, more or less, and that the Army chief of staff himself called the massacre shown in the film one of the most shameful moments in American history. So it was, and of course we're supposed to make the connection with My Lai and take "Soldier Blue" as an allegory for Vietnam.
But that just won't do. The film is too mixed up to qualify as a serious allegory about anything. And although it is pro-Indian, it is also white chauvinist. Like "A Man Called Horse," another so-called pro-Indian film, it doesn't have the courage to be about real Indians. The hero in these films somehow has a way of turning out to be white.
In "A Man Called Horse," Richard Harris was your average English aristocrat, but damned if he couldn't out-hunt, out-fight, out-shoot and out-lead all those Sioux, who made him their chief out of pure gratitude. And now in "Soldier Blue," Candice Bergen is the white girl from New York who "understands" Indians and makes liberal speeches and goes back to warn the tribe when the Cavalry is coming. Nobody who looks authentically Indian gets very close to the camera.
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