Dances With Wolves


Dances With Wolves

Critics Consensus

A grand, sweeping epic with inarguably noble intentions and arresting cinematography, but one whose center, arguably, is not as weighty as it should be.



Total Count: 74
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Movie Info

A historical drama about the relationship between a Civil War soldier and a band of Sioux Indians, Kevin Costner's directorial debut was also a surprisingly popular hit, considering its length, period setting, and often somber tone. The film opens on a particularly dark note, as melancholy Union lieutenant John W. Dunbar attempts to kill himself on a suicide mission, but instead becomes an unintentional hero. His actions lead to his reassignment to a remote post in remote South Dakota, where he encounters the Sioux. Attracted by the natural simplicity of their lifestyle, he chooses to leave his former life behind to join them, taking on the name Dances with Wolves. Soon, Dances with Wolves has become a welcome member of the tribe and fallen in love with a white woman who has been raised amongst the tribe. His peaceful existence is threatened, however, when Union soldiers arrive with designs on the Sioux land. Some detractors have criticized the film's depiction of the tribes as simplistic; such objections did not dissuade audiences or the Hollywood establishment, however, which awarded the film seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi

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Kevin Costner
as Lt. John Dunbar
Mary McDonnell
as Stands With a Fist
Graham Greene (II)
as Kicking Bird
Rodney A. Grant
as Wind in His Hair
Tantoo Cardinal
as Black Shawl
Charles Rocket
as Lt. Elgin
Maury Chaykin
as Maj. Fambrough
Wes Studi
as Toughest Pawnee
Kirk Baltz
as Edwards
Jimmy Herman
as Stone Calf
Doris Leader Charge
as Pretty Shield
Tom Everett
as Sgt. Pepper
Larry Joshua
as Sgt. Bauer
Donald Horton
as General Tide
Annie Costner
as Christine
Elisa Daniel
as Christine's Mother
Percy White Plume
as Big Warrior
John Tail
as Escort Warrior
Steve Reevis
as Sioux No. 1/Warrior No. 1
Sheldon Wolfchild
as Sioux No. 2/Warrior No. 2
Redwing Ted Nez
as Sioux Warrior
Marvin Holy
as Sioux Warrior
Raymond Newholy
as Sioux Courier
David J. Fuller
as Kicking Bird's Son
Ryan White Bull
as Kicking Bird's Eldest Son
Otakuye Conroy
as Kicking Bird's Daughter
Maretta Big Crow
as Village Mother
William H. Burton
as General's Aide
Bill W. Curry
as Confederate Cavalryman
Nick Thompson
as Confederate Soldier
Carter Hanner
as Confederate Soldier
Kent Hays
as Wagon Driver
Robert Goldman
as Union Soldier
R.L. Curtin
as Ambush Wagon Driver
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News & Interviews for Dances With Wolves

Critic Reviews for Dances With Wolves

All Critics (74) | Top Critics (19)

  • By never falling into the trap of allowing spectacle to supersede character, Costner's Dances with Wolves restores depth, idealism, poignancy and even wonder to a genre that had long seemed moribund.

    Apr 26, 2018 | Full Review…

    Jay Carr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic
  • It's an engrossing tale, and Costner directs with the confidence of a Hollywood veteran well aware that entertainment comes before earnestness.

    Feb 6, 2018 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Top Critic
  • This is a big picture in love with our landscape as much as with the Sioux Indians who inhabit it.

    Feb 21, 2015 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • The important issues raised by the film- centered on the cultural, racial and moral struggle that took place on the American frontier-are glossed over in favor of a juvenile fantasy of male bonding around the campfire.

    Jan 13, 2014 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • This collective array of talent has yielded a western that is at once original and traditional. Dances With Wolves looks back to the masterworks of the past and, with its relevance to our present, it deserves to be ranked with them.

    Jan 13, 2014 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • A slow-moving but well-acted western.

    Jan 13, 2014 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

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