Consider Life of Pi. Man (boy) vs. nature (tiger or bear, sea or snow). Who greenlit that without Cruise, Clooney, or DiCaprio and why?
It earned $609 million worldwide on a $120 million budget, which would put it near the top of DiCaprio's hit list. But without a white man as the star...puzzling!
No one even needs The Revenant or the Hugh Glass story. If DiCaprio wanted to work with González Iñárritu on a sweeping Western epic, they could've made a story up. Something with DiCaprio and a co-equal Native star.
With roughly the same ingredients, it would've done roughly as well. DiCaprio could've thanked his Native co-stars without becoming the great white savior. That movie would've advanced Natives, whom he supposedly cares about, more than The Revenant.
My Facebook friend joined in:
Or how about a screenplay portraying Indians any time after say, 1915? That would be truly revolutionary!
Lots of indie films
Of course, indie films about modern Natives get made all the time. In the last couple of years there's been Drunktown's Finest, Rhymes for Young Ghouls, Empire of Dirt, The Jingle Dress, Songs My Brother Taught Me, Mekko, Le Dep, and the upcoming Neither Wolf Nor Dog.
I haven't seen most of these, so I'm not sure how good they are. There aren't many (or any) commercial or mainstream stories among the bunch. Nothing I'd send my mom, who doesn't care about Indians, to see.
One could argue against more period pieces like The Revenant, Bone Tomahawk, or the upcoming Diablo starring Adam Beach. Not to mention The Ridiculous 6.
The question is: Does it help Indians to appear as minor characters in old Westerns? Which reinforce the idea that Indians are dead and gone? I dunno.
Yes, it reminds people that Indians were a part of the West. But do people get that modern Indians with jobs, SUVs, and cellphones were only play-acting between their Starbucks and yoga classes? I'm not sure about that.
Q'orianka Kilcher, Graham Greene cast in Chickasaw Nation film, 'Te Ata' (VIDEO)
After 1915, so it counts!
Charles Red Corn’s 'A Pipe for February' to be a Film
Only 95 years in the past! Getting closer!
For more on Leonardo DiCaprio, see Native Lead in The Revenant? and The Revenant = "White Savior" Story