A Man Called Horse (1970 film)

A Man Called Horse (1970 film)

name = A Man Called Horse

image_size = 175px
caption = original film poster
imdb_id = 0066049
amg_id = A31075
director = Elliot Silverstein
writer = Jack DeWitt
Dorothy M. Johnson
starring = Richard Harris
Judith Anderson
producer = Frank Brill
Sandy Howard
music = Leonard Rosenman
Lloyd One Star
cinematography= Robert Hauser
Gabriel Torres
distributor = National General Pictures
released = 28 April 1970
runtime = 114 min.
country = USA
language = English, Sioux
preceded_by =
followed_by = "The Return of a Man Called Horse"

"A Man Called Horse" is a 1970 American Western film starring Richard Harris and directed by Elliot Silverstein.

The film is based on a short story, "A Man Called Horse", published in 1968 in the book "Indian Country" by Dorothy M. Johnson. Partially spoken in Sioux, the film tells the history of an English aristocrat who is captured by a Native American tribe.

Initially enslaved and treated as a plaything by the tribe and mocked by being treated as the animal of the film title initially, he comes to respect his captors' culture and also to gain their respect. He is assisted in understanding their culture and language by an existing captive, the tribe's fool, Batise, who had tried to escape in the past and was hamstrung behind both knees. At one point, later in the film, when one of the warriors takes a vow never to retreat in battle, his changing perspective is shown, as he turns angrily on the uncomprehending Batise, telling him "Five years you've lived here, and you've learned "nothing" about these people – all his death is to you is a means of escape."

Determining that his only chance of eventual freedom is to gain the respect of the tribe and join its war parties, he overcomes his repugnance and kills two warriors from another tribe, which in turn allows him to claim warrior status. In the aftermath of his victory, he proposes marriage to one of the tribal daughters with the horses as dowry, and undergoes painful initiation rites, taking the native name "Horse" as his Sioux name, and becomes a respected member of the tribe and ultimately following attack, their leader.

Two sequels to the original movie were made, both with Harris reprising his role:

* "The Return of a Man Called Horse" (1976)
* "Triumphs of a Man Called Horse" (1983)

Representation of cultures

The film notably treats both sides dispassionately, viewing neither from the view of the white man, nor the native American Indian tribe, but from a viewpoint encompassing both cultures; its representation of tribal practices and rituals (including the Sun Dance) is described as being based upon historical recordsFact|date=June 2008.

Jacquelyn Kilpatrick stated that the movie "must be discussed in terms of reality and authenticity."Fact|date=June 2008 She was not the only one who criticized the film for misrepresenting Native American culture. The perspective is very eurocentric and shows a white feature character who, after an unauthentic maltreatment by the tribe, marries the most beautiful woman in the tribe and fights off an enemy attack by installing British military strategies in midst of an ongoing battle.

Differences between the book and movie versions

*In the book, the character Batise is killed in the raid in which Horse is captured, but the movie has him survive to subsequently mentor Horse in the Lakota camp.
*Horse also tries to escape in the movie, but he does not in the book.
*The natives in the story are the Crow, whereas in the movie, they are members of the Sioux Nation.
*In the book, Horse is from Boston, and in the movie he is from England.


*Richard Harris … John Morgan
*Judith Anderson … Buffalo Cow Head
*Jean Gascon … Batise
*Manu Tupou … Yellow Hand
*Corinna Tsopei … Running Deer
*Dub Taylor … Joe
*James Gammon … Ed
*William Jordan … Bent
*Eddie Little Sky … Black Eagle
*Michael Baseleon … Longfoot
*Lina Marín … Thorn Rose
*Tamara Garina … Elk Woman
*Terry Leonard … Striking Bear
*Iron Eyes Cody … Medicine man
*Tom Tyon … Medicine man

The tribal people were acted by members of the Rosebud Sioux tribe of South Dakota.

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