In honor of June 26, we would like to recommend the following historically “accurate” films: Son of the Morning Star, Little Big Man, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and American Experience’s Emmy award winning documentary Last Stand at Little Big Horn
Between June 25 and 26, 1876, a combined force of Lakota and Northern Cheyenne led the United States 7th Cavalry into a battle near the Little Bighorn River in what was then the eastern edge of the Montana Territory. The engagement is known by several names: the Battle of Greasy Grass, the Battle of Little Big Horn, and Custer’s Last Stand. Perhaps the most famous action of the Indian Wars, it was a remarkable victory for Sitting Bull and his forces. They defeated a column of seven hundred men led by George Armstrong Custer; five of the Seventh’s companies were annihilated and Custer himself was killed in the engagement along with two of his brothers and a brother-in-law. Known as the battle that left no white survivors, Little Big Horn has inspired more than 1,000 works of art, including over 40 films. Here are four of the best…
Son of the Morning Star
Based on the 1984 best selling historical novel by Evan S, Connell, Son of the Morning Star won five Emmys when it first aired in 1991. Focusing on the life and times of General George Armstrong Custer, it takes up Custer’s life near the end of the American Civil War, follows him through his involvement in famous Indian wars, and culminates with the battle of Little Big Horne. I particularly like this version because it attempts to get beyond the stereotypes and introduce you to the real man; it provides an excellent introduction to the personalities involved and the events leading up to and following the battle.
Little Big Man,
The 1970 film Little Big Man, directed by Arthur Penn and starring Dustin Hoffman, was based on Thomas Berger’s 1964 fictionalized “historical” novel by the same name. Admittedly adjusted history, it tells the satirical, fictional and picaresque story of Jack Crabb; a white boy orphaned in a Pawnee raid and adopted by a Cheyenne warrior, he eventually becomes the only white survivor of the Battle of Little Big Horn. It is considered a “Revisionist Western” because Native Americans receive a sympathetic treatment that was uncommon for Western films in previous decades. Revisionist or not, I simply adore this wickedly humorous film about one man’s life revolving through the kaleidoscope of cultures that made up the American “Wild” West, and I recommend it with all my heart.
Bury My heart at Wounded Knee,
HBO’s 2007 adaptation of Bury My heart at Wounded Knee, a 1970 classic of Native American history by Dee Alexander Brown, recounts the struggle of the Indian Wars from the perspectives of three people: Charles Eastman, a young Sioux doctor who received his medical degree from Boston University in 1889; Sitting Bull, who led the combined forces at Little Big Horn and refused …