May 15, 2016

Review of Hollywood's Indians

Hollywood's Indian: The Portrayal of the Native American in FilmOffering both in-depth analyses of specific films and overviews of the industry's output, Hollywood's Indian provides insightful characterizations of the depiction of the Native Americans in film. This updated edition includes a new chapter on Smoke Signals, the groundbreaking independent film written by Sherman Alexie and directed by Chris Eyre. Taken as a whole the essays explore the many ways in which these portrayals have made an impact on our collective cultural life.

Editorial Reviews

"Raises interesting issues and challenges readers to consider the complex realities of American Indian cultures and Indian/non-Indian relations that major motion pictures often fail to communicate." ―American Graduate

"Important and groundbreaking work." ―Bookman News

"Enables readers to construct a cinematic chronology of the Hollywood Indian and to comprehend the larger cultural forces at work interpreting the Indian-white past on screen." ―Choice

"Rollins and O'Connor have skillfully blended a variety of thoughtful viewpoints." ―Chronicles of Oklahoma

"A collection of quality essays, put together by two of the leading experts in this particular topic area." ―Communication Booknotes Quarterly

Comment:  I read Hollywood's Indians and it's a solid academic-style book. Individual essays cover the usual milestones of 20th-century "Native" films: John Ford's movies, Broken Arrow, Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here, Little Big Man, Pow Wow Highway, Dances with Wolves, Last of the Mohicans, Pocahontas, Indian in the Cupboard, and Smoke Signals.

As with most anthologies, some of its essays are more compelling than others. And of course it doesn't address the independent Native filmmaking that's flourished since its 1999 publication date.

All in all, it's a useful but not essential book on Native-themed movies. Rob's rating: 7.0 of 10.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

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