This review contains spoilers
General activist review rating: Yellow
Pass the Bechdel? No. But they do discuss men non-romantically and other subjects.
Triggers: Violent rape, domestic abuse, racism against blacks, racism against Native Americans, & war.
My Rating: 73% – 84%; depending on the historical accuracy.
This review is closer to a recap, and thus will contain SPOILERS.
Black Fox presents to us a classic white hero story, with him and his
dog best friend defending white villagers from the savage “injuns”.
And that concept becomes completely turned around.
The “black best friend” gets subverted, as does the “noble savage” & “barbarian savage” for the Native Americans.
We get a story about a black protagonist bringing back his family, the kidnapped (white) women & children, and ultimately (at least temporarily) the entire town.
We get a story that dips itself into into preconcieved notions and pops out with only some of that goo latched on.
That is, it explores themes of racism, rape, and war; and while it adhere’s to some of those notions-it also gives you the other side of the coin.
Britt encounters racism from both white & Native American folk, and the Native Americans have and are noted for discriminative tendencies towards black & white people (including positive and genocidal racism).
Kidnapping and marital rape is explored, but not thoroughly. One wife is physically (and hinted sexually) abused by her white husband. In the Native American villages, we see how some of the new wives are bring treated by their new husbands & family members, though it’s brief. We see the black kid playing with Comanche friends, but relatively friendless in the white town.
The after effects of abuse are also portrayed. One actress does a good job portraying her character as shell-shocked after being raped (presumably repeatedly).
The Kiowa & Comanche seem to teeter with classic Western stereotypes and historical accuracy. You get the faux war cry, but then you also witness the Comanche “chief” explaining that he’s more of a warlord.
I’m also pretty sure the rattlesnake pit was made up for the movie.
Also, kudos to the Native actors (or director for “allowing”) the fake-made-real monotone accent being…more fluid. I have no idea if the Kiowa & Comanche languages were fake or not.
At the very least, I like this portrayal of Native Americans better than I did with Dances With Wolves, that’s for sure.
Overall, I think this film is clever. It lures in the white viewer enough to capture their attention and trick them into watching a POC film. It slips in white stupidity subtlety, getting a white person to support the “black” side and portray the Native American “villains” sympathetically while still keeping it somewhat realistic.
And of course, there is stuff for the POC viewer. African-Americans will appreciate this more than Native-American viewers. Good luck, black Natives.
I think this film could have done better with a little more time on family life in both villages. And of course, less stereotypes towards the Native Americans. (How beneficial is that war cry & accent to ignorent white viewers?)
But overall, I think this is a pretty good, underrated film. I have no idea why no one talks about this film at all; which is why I made this review in the first place.