Thursday, June 09, 2005

I'm Headed "Into the West"

Friday, tomorrow night, at 8/7c, I'm headed Into the West.

I've been waiting for a while for this Stephen Spielberg produced miniseries to premiere on TNT. It is being touted as the first epic telling of Westward Expansion that takes into account the Indian point of view. The six part minseries follows the adventures and twists of two families, one white and one Lakota, over 50 years. Various family members hit such historical highlights as the California Gold Rush, the building of the transcontinental railroads, The Battle of Little Bighorn, and Wounded Knee.

I paroused the cast and I think almost every Indian who's every worked in Hollywood is in it. Some of the well-recognized names are Wes Studi, Graham Greene, Eddie and Michael Spears, Irene Bedard, Russell Means, and Gordon Tootoosis. And those are just the Indians I recognize! Who is Jay Tavare? (Yeah, I think I've seen him on the cover of romance novels, too. Is he like the Indian Fabio?)

I see that Crazy Horse and Red Cloud make appearances (not to mention Custer), so that's pretty exciting! Let's keep our fingers crossed that it is good, shall we?

Although I have to say some early reviews have been harsh.

Elaine Wolff of the San Antonio Current says "Why then do the meticulously (and, I imagine, expensively) recreated scenes play so awkwardly? Even the actors who portray Lakota tribespeople don't seem to be entirely convinced of their own authenticity. Part of the fault lies with the filmmakers who decided that these scenes require more narration than the all-white scenes. The unintentional effect is to make the Native Americans seem childlike and deserving of patronization."

Uh oh. Childlike? Patronizing?

And then Alan Sepinwall at the Star Ledger opines "Most of the people we meet are historical archetypes at best, blanks at worst.[...]The Lakota characters are even sketchier than their white counterparts, there less as people than as symbols. The Lakota sequences seem shorter and more obligatory as the story moves along, as if the writers knew they were necessary to provide historical balance but had no idea how to make them interesting."

I'm starting to get a bad feeling. But I'm going to give it a chance. So should you.


Anonymous Yehecatl said...

Is this on right now? I never watch TV. I remember seeing some advertisement for it a couple days ago, but only because someone who was over at my house was watching TV. It's not that there's never anything on that I would watch- I'd watch something like this. It's just that I never turn the TV on for regular programming, so I never see the ads letting me know that something that I'd watch is going to be on. Therefore, I miss it. That said...

As soon as I heard Steven Spielberg was behind this, I figured it was bad news. He is, after all, the one behind "The Road to El Dorado." A wonderful example of a childlike and patronizing portrayal of indigenous people.

9:41 AM  

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