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Reel Injun

Reel Injun (2009)



Average Rating: 6.2/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 1,343

My Rating

Movie Info

Native American and Aboriginal peoples have long played a part in Hollywood filmmaking, but the picture presented of them was not always flattering or accurate. Most westerns of Hollywood's Golden Age presented "Indians" as either ruthless savages with no sense of honor or fools who were lost without the help of the white man. (Adding insult to injury, they were usually played by white actors in make up.) However, as issues of Native American rights came to the forefront in the 1960s, more

Nov 29, 2011

LionsGate Entertainment

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All Critics (15) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (13) | Rotten (2) | DVD (3)

Reel Injun is not a peace pipe but a convincing case for a place at the table.

June 25, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Setting off in his barely road-worthy "rez car," Mr. Diamond films a series of bittersweet, and sometimes bitingly funny, encounters.

June 18, 2010 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Reel Injun will most likely give you a new perspective the next time you watch John Wayne battle Native Americans.

June 11, 2010 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Both the talking-head interviews and montages trace distortions and puncture myths with professional rigor.

June 9, 2010 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Combining a road trip from his native Arctic reservation to Los Angeles with an archival cinematic survey, Diamond's treatment of each is perfunctory to the point of inutility.

June 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Village Voice | Comment (1)
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Entertaining and informative.

February 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

At its heart this is a well made, provocative made-for-television documentary, a mix of movie clips and talking head interviews.

September 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Filmfest

Though stricter selectivity would not have harmed this documentary, its enthusiastic embrace is instructive and moving.

June 20, 2010 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

A fascinating, well-researched documentary that simultaneously informs and captivates the audience.

June 15, 2010 Full Review Source: NYC Movie Guru
NYC Movie Guru

A powerful, mythbusting documentary which manages to humanize America's unfairly-marginalized indigenous peoples, albeit belatedly.

June 13, 2010 Full Review Source: NewsBlaze

The debate over the evolution of the movies' depiction of native peoples is not always on the mark.

June 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine | Comment (1)
Slant Magazine

Exhaustively explores Hollywood's perpetuation of mythical misconceptions through footage from the nearly four hundred culturally distorted westerns, contrasted with corrective feature films made by aboriginal directors across North America.

June 1, 2010 Full Review Source: NewsBlaze

There are gaps here and there, but it provides a fascinating introduction to a corner of film history that has gotten too little attention.

February 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

For Diamond, Reel Injun is a highly personal odyssey, undertaken in an attempt to reconcile the realities of his native childhood with the natives he saw portrayed on screen.

February 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Audience Reviews for Reel Injun

Director Neil Diamond explores the portrayal of Native Americans throughout the history of American cinema, exposing the racist stereotypes that films have perpetuated.
it's hard for me to review this film. I think that I, along with most of the rest of modern American culture, am trained to pick at the negative with an almost knee-jerk quickness so that when I find a film with which I agree so heartily, I have little to say. Diamond's analysis is spot-on. Yes, the vast majority of John Wayne westerns are racist. Yes, Disney's Pocahontas is infantile and racist. Yes, Natives in film are either pre-modern savages or pre-modern hippies who have to make way, usually through their gruesome demise, for "civilization." Yes, yes, yes. The film lauds Native cinema by Natives, and it contextualizes Marlon Brando's public refusal of his Oscar to raise awareness of Native rights.
The half-star off is because even though the academic analysis of American film is great, the road-trip story is half-baked and doesn't provide the through-line for the film that Diamond intended.
Overall, Reel Injun is a fantastic analysis of Natives in film, and it should be required viewing in any film school.
October 1, 2012
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

An eye opening and thought provoking investigation into the evolution of Native American portrayals in film. Director Neil Diamond examines contemporary projects and revisits a few old classics on his way to exposing racial stereotypes and blowing up long held misconceptions about Aboriginal culture.
March 18, 2012
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Interesting documentary following the history of the portrayal of Native Americans in US pop culture and film history. With a lot of interesting historical and details, humor and interviews with people who know what they're talking about.
January 3, 2011

Super Reviewer

With the documentary "Reel Injun," filmmaker Neil Diamond seeks to explore the history of Native Americans in films, seeking to correct the record whenever possible, while undertaking a personal journey into the heart of America. To be honest, there are very few surprises here, as the story of Native Americans in Hollywood westerns is a familiar one, although taking John Ford down a notch is kind of refreshing. That's not to mention how inaccurate the films were that most people now consider curios of a past age, as they reflected the racism of a society that preferred a simple conflict in its movies. The documentary fares best when it gets away from such a broad approach to tell specific stories like the silent film, "The Silent Enemy." Even as there have been generational improvements in attitude, Hollywood has in reality changed little as Sacheen Littlefeather's protest at the Academy Awards has never been taken seriously. In fact, the best depictions of indigenous cultures are made in other countries and independently. For example, it is hard to imagine "The Fast Runner" being made any further away from Hollywood. However, with all the people the documentary talks to, why did they not talk to Sherman Alexie who not only wrote "Smoke Signals" but is also one very funny guy?
December 13, 2012
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Reel Injun (DE)
  • Reel Injun (UK)
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