Friday, September 24, 2010

Running Brave

(D. S. Everett, 1983)
This First Nations-financed narrative of hardship overcome by individual will diverges in several seemingly significant ways from the Michael Douglas flick that shares half its name, but for all the film’s Sioux specificity the dominant ideological and narrative frames hardly budge an inch. I don’t know whether the retreat into pedestrian ‘inspirational’ bootstrap hokum was a tactic of the Ermineskins or if Buena Vista demanded changes when they picked it up, but I’m guessing the latter - otherwise how would they have suckered Don Shebib into directing in the first place? Shebib eventually had enough and removed his name from the project, but throughout the film there’s evidence that someone around here has an interest in telling rather than regurgitating a story; lots of neat little moments ornament the predictable arc. While jack-of-all-ethnicities Robbie Benson does a creditable enough job capturing the tensions of life among the whites, it’s vividly repressed coach Pat Hingle and sensitive drunk artist Denis Lacroix who dig the deepest. One hopes that Shebib had more in mind for Benson’s life partner Margo Cane than the loving gazes she’s limited to here, and the references to class and race hostility among the Sioux are cartoonish and context-free, which can only be Disney’s doing, right?

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