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Compare the representation ofNative Americans in 2 western films"

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Introduction

Media coursework- "Compare the representation of Native Americans in 2 western films" The 2 films that are going to be compared are: "The Searchers" A 1956 western drama, directed by John ford & starring John Wayne as Ethan Edwards and "Dances With Wolves" a 1990's adventure western directed by and starring Kevin Costner. The reason why these two films have been chosen is because of the very significant distinction in the way in which the Native Americans are represented. The Searchers story begins in Texas in 1868. Three years after the end of Civil War, Ethan Edwards who is a former soldier is wandering through Texas. He decides to visit his brother Aaron at the family's ranch, but the situation changes when he finds that a group of cattle thieves have stole his family's cattle. Ethan together with Martin Pawley (Aaron's adopted son), go out to find the cattle and they follow the trace until they find the cattle slaughtered. They soon realise that the cattle was stolen by a Comanche war party that planned to cunningly lead the men out of their farms and leave their families open to attack. They rush back but it is too late for the family, which has been brutally killed, with the only surviving girl Debbie taken captive. Ethan and Martin decide they are going to go after the Comanches in order to rescue Debbie and take revenge for the killing of their family and burning down of their ranch, But the ...read more.

Middle

However when he goes back he finds that Union soldiers have occupied the fort and they capture him. When the Sioux people realize he has been abducted by Union soldiers, Sioux warriors attack the soldiers, killing most of them and rescuing Dunbar. Dunbar then flees with Stands with Fist into the Black Hills just before Union troops move on the Sioux camp. Generic elements There are various generic elements to verify that the films are of western genre. The Generic elements come in differentiated categories:- These are almost all the Generic elements found in western films. The two films being compared both hold a significantly high percentage of these Elements, which proves that they are both of western genres. The way in which Native Americans are represented in the two films "The Searchers" and "Dances With Wolves" has a very significant distinction we are shown two completely different worlds, in "The Searchers" Native Americans are represented in a very biased one-sided and flat 2D way, they are interpreted as being cunning and sly when they are shown to trick the white men by stealing cattle, they are represented as being simple, foolish and unintelligent people in the scene where they swap a good blanket and woman for a feather. Ethan's story of the horse portrays them as being un-human, it is a very stereotypical view that the Native Americans are always the "baddies" (as they call them) ...read more.

Conclusion

nevertheless we have the chance to make up our own minds on what we feel about the Native Americans unlike in "The Searchers" Where this is not possible........... Overall the representation of Native Americans is much more accurate, fair & precise within "Dances with Wolves" because of the fact that we are made aware that there are good, kind and caring Native Americans (the Sioux tribe) and their are bad native Americans (the Pawnees tribe) - who attacked the Sioux for their food and shelter, Just like with most cultures, tribes and races. This is a better representation of Native Americans than that which is portrayed in "The Searchers" as in "The Searchers" it is a simple and biased representation that Native Americans are always bad and White men are always good. However there are common links within the two films the most obvious being the fact that both films have a storyline in which a white girl is kidnapped and bought up by the Native Americans. But the major difference is that In "The Searchers" the girl- Debbie would go back home to her original family, as the Native Americans are seen as bad people but in "Dances With Wolves" "Stands with A Fist"- the white girl wouldn't go back to her original family as she is treated very, very kindly by her new family of Native Americans. Overall the vast difference in representation of Native Americans in these two films makes them very interesting to view & compare. ...read more.

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