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Indigenous peoples and film.

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posted on Dec, 14 2010 @ 06:14 PM
It's probably fair to say that native peoples in North America have been represented but also very stereotyped in film.
Not only is the focus on plains or Apache "culture" emblematic, but representations waver between "noble savages" and "oppressed peoples".
Not only are some actors repetitive as standard "Indians" (e.g. Graham Greene), but certain nations are over-represented.
The interest is often not so much in history itself as in contemporary politics.

It was very interesting comparing this to South American

The nudity and realism is scarcely repeated further North.

Here, in South Africa's Western Cape there is no good film about the first colonial contacts.
The Khoisan remain unrepresented people on screen (except maybe for the Kalahari "Bushmen").

I'd love for people to share their favorite scenes and to debate this issue further.
edit on 14-12-2010 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 14 2010 @ 07:35 PM
no matter what you say, nobody will be truly and fully represented in film. It can't happen, it's like trying to take a picture of everyone in america, The Census tried, and it just won't work.

posted on Dec, 14 2010 @ 07:42 PM
reply to post by leira7

That is certainly true.
Hence it interesting to examine why peoples are represented differently in every film.

posted on Dec, 16 2010 @ 02:44 PM
From the 1980s' series Shaka Zulu.
Shaka's first battle.
The series was very popular at the time, both within and outside South Africa.
Although well made by the SABC, it caused serious criticism for its focus on inter-black violence, and British actors were almost blacklisted internationally for working in apartheid SA.
Since controversies on Shaka's sexuality it has also become a gay classic (although such issues are never directly addressed in the film).
Some say it did much for African culture, while others say it misrepresented it.

posted on Dec, 16 2010 @ 02:53 PM
The role of Shaka was acted by Henry Cele.
As so often happens with indigenous stars his competent performance and iconic looks tragically typecast him, and effectively strangled his career.
Tragically Cele died aged 58, chained to a hospital bed due to violent fits allegedly caused by Aids dementia.

For more on the controversy surrounding the "black body" in Shaka Zulu, see pp. 97-98 in Marc Epprecht's Heterosexual Africa? - The history of an idea from the age of exploration to the age of Aids. University of Ohio: 2008.
It should be added that the actor was not gay, and the debate concerns the film. i=U3oKTbLYKY2WswaQtfSWCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false
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edit on 16-12-2010 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 16 2010 @ 03:11 PM
Native Americans as plot devices:

Some more critical imagery in this video.
I was quite surprised about stereotypes on Seinfeld!
There's a lot of written material - some of it made me think critically of Disney's Pocahontas.
I thought that was quite a "positive stereotype", but the natives are still in the way of the British.
Well either way, it made millions for somebody.

edit on 16-12-2010 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 16 2010 @ 03:48 PM
The Kalahari Bushmen or "San".
The legend depicted at the start of the 1980s' blockbuster The Gods must be Crazy.
The egalitarian community is represented as frozen in time.
Ironically in that decade Bushman life was much disrupted (after decades of invasions by white farmers and black herders) by a bloody bush war between pro and anti-communist forces.
Here a mere cola bottle disrupts their "pristine" existence.
The fraud around the "primitive Kalahari hunter-gatherer" image was encouraged by pseudo-anthropology and documentary film since 1900.
Here it entered international film.

Since 1994 the Bushmen within the SA part of the Kalahari (the Khomani) were given land.
Disputes arose between who was a Bushman, and who was part of the related "coloured" community.
The Bushmen were harassed by police - mainly due to their traditional use of dagga (cannabis).
However, the Khomani capitalized on their image and dress, and even toured the country to raise awareness.
Today the main issue is the eviction of Bushmen from their erstwhile colonial reserve in Botswana, in order to facilitate diamond mining.

Here is a clip from SA that challenges romantic movie notions: Death of a Bushman.

edit on 16-12-2010 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 16 2010 @ 05:15 PM
A much debated film from Australia: The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith (1978).

edit on 16-12-2010 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 16 2010 @ 05:52 PM
The 1964 film Zulu is still highly regarded, despite some glaring historical errors.
It was an attempt to bring the Western film genre to Africa.
One of the charges in the film by 700 Zulu extras almost turned real (according to film legend at least), and the film was banned in SA due to fears of inciting the "natives"!
A direct descendant of Zulu royalty, and later IFP politician Mangosuthu Buthelezi played the Zulu king.

edit on 16-12-2010 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 16 2010 @ 06:08 PM
What is quite interesting above is the use of colonial music and a white (soldier) point of view.
But who defines colonial?
The Scots, Welsh and Irish were themselves colonized at various stages (and had little personal interest in the Zulu Wars).
This adds a certain pathos.

I have seen this convention reworked in the great New Zealand epic: River Queen (2007).

Apparently the lyrics used in the film for the song "Danny Boy" were only written in 1910, 42 years after the portrayed era. It's an interesting intersection of sentiments - both modern and historical. I'm sure that sentiment made recognizable to us by song was historically present.

In some films native peoples are the repositories of social injustice and the fight against this.
In the 1980s they become repositories of environmental knowledge or "ecological balance".

In a postmodern view they are the "other", but they also "other" dominant cultures.
Whatever the representation it points the finger right back.
Whether they mirror the "red" communist threat, the silent Viet-Kong behind every bush, the monotone Nazi, the natural "spiritualists" and environmentalists - they become a kind of silenced lack in Western culture.
edit on 16-12-2010 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 16 2010 @ 06:46 PM
While indigenous peoples in Latin America and real Cold War theaters became topics of Exploitation Films, the film Prophesy (1979) was a landmark sci-fi horror that conflated native warnings and environmental catastrophe.
The lumber industry was poisoning the lands of Native Americans with mercury - leading to horrific animal mutations. Pretty lame today - but frightening back then.
The theme is still with us today considering 2012 "prophesies".

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edit on 16-12-2010 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 16 2010 @ 07:19 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

Riding on the new popularity of "native environmentalism" was spirituality.
In Poltergeist II the roles of evil were reversed outright - a wholly good native shaman vs. an evil missionary spirit.
A subtext was some native ancestry in the "white" characters.

This was brought forcefully into thematic view in At Play in the Fields of the Lord.
Instead of bombing a native village in Amazonia, a semi-Cheyenne pilot changes sides, in a tapestry of border allegiances.
A great film dogged with social issues (and accused unfairly of riding on The Mission).

edit on 16-12-2010 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 16 2010 @ 07:59 PM
The 1990s saw many attempts at film depicting North American history sympathetic to Native Americans following Dances with Wolves and The last of the Mohicans. Most were fairly good Westerns, but not highly regarded movies.
For me the heat came back with Pathfinder (2007).
It makes my European ancestors out as horrific stereotypes (except for the protagonist, the white savior of the natives - yeah right).
However, the double stereotype is very engaging.
The main fear is that of invasion following 9/11 - or that's how I saw it.

edit on 16-12-2010 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 18 2010 @ 09:05 PM
Indigenous music mixes with Western rock.
Mango Groove - Special Star:

posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 11:18 AM
Very confusing movie (and book) to me.
The Education of Little Tree (1997).
I found it a great little sweet surprise of a film.

The book by Forrest Carter was published in 1976.
Shockingly I read that the author was a member of the KKK, and probably had no Native ancestry.
I'm not sure what is truth. Does it matter?
Therefore I leave some landscape, music (Cherokee morning Song) and select passages from the book:

edit on 21-12-2010 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 11:51 AM
Rapa Nui (1992):
Despite attempts at realism that went beyond mainstream audiences' nudity phobia, the film was accused of inaccuracy. It conflated two historical epochs in the history of Chile's Easter Island.
As pre-colonial film, or film without white characters it proved popular, but didn't really break into the mainstream.
Some say it caused some Polynesian cultural revival in Easter Island, and allegedly is shown there regularly (I'd love for somebody to confirm this).
Here is a scene depicting the battle of the Birdmen:

posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 03:08 PM
An intense and horrific scene: The Stolen Generation.
Rabbit Proof Fence

posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 07:49 PM
Robert Flaherty's classic Nanook of the North (1921).
In postmodern fashion the 1994 film Kabloonak wanted to show another "truth" to the narrative.
However, it is probably regarded as more offensive than the original.

Incidentally, the Denver Expedition first "othered" the Bushmen of the Etosha in Namibia in 1922.
This nation of San was removed from their land under apartheid for not being "pure" enough.
There are few records of the Denver expedition, which presented travelling to Africa as a journey back through time.

Nanook is a classic, and available online.

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posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 08:07 PM
King Solomon's Mines (1950).
Note the patriarchy and gender issues.
The pain and suffering of the white male is stressed - be it an annoying, vulnerable, clumsy woman or pesky natives and animals.
No problem for the dashing hero.
Well, he is pretty dashing - oops another white male may not say so openly ... or else!
We want to be him, not fall for him (coff, coff).

edit on 21-12-2010 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 29 2011 @ 12:29 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

Reviewing the horrific scene from Rabbit Proof Fence, I wonder sometimes whether environments have protected people, and how deserts and jungles have saved groups from the NWO.
If colonists ever came from space, what cover do we have left?
You can only run so fast.

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