By Cheryl Anderson
That’s the set-up for the new movie, “West of Thunder,” starring Dan Davies of Appleton. It’s produced by Dr. Avi Bar-Lev and his wife, Jody Marriott Bar-Lev, of Hortonville and co-directed by Marriott Bar-Lev and Steve Russell, who is co-owner with Davies of the Appleton-based production company DaviesRussell.
The film and original screenplay—written by Davies and Marriott Bar-Lev—is more than just a cinematic vehicle for all those involved.
It will help financially support the creation of a K-12 Lakota Cambridge-accredited school on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
“My character is a conflicted thunder being,” Davies said. “That’s why the movie is called ‘West of Thunder.’ He’s bringing the thunder and the lightning, and he’s bringing retribution and revenge.”
The ultimate message of the movie—filmed in South Dakota, Agua Dulce, Calif., and the Stonefield State Historic Site in Cassville—is about taking the higher road of forgiveness and love.
“Realizing it’s a powerful circle of hate that will only bring more of the same, Little Thunder, spiritual leader of the Lakota, takes the path of forgiveness,” Davies said. “It’s the Lakota’s way of saying even though all these horrible things happened to us, we’re not going to hold a grudge. We’re not going to hate.”
1) It's the umpteenth movie to star a white guy who tries to solve the Indians' problems? Why not feature an Indian seeking revenge for Wounded Knee? That's a more plausible storyline.
Oh, yeah...because Dan Davies, whoever he is, wants a starring vehicle for himself. So much for his noble aspirations to help Indians.
2) IMDB suggests Davies has little experience at anything: writing, acting, or directing. That raises a red flag about the quality of the movie--not to mention its authenticity.
3) As far as I can tell, not a single Indian is listed as participating in any capacity in the movie. Will this "movie on Lakota tribe" have a single Native actor in it? How about a Native advisor for the historical and cultural issues?
4) The central premise
I wonder what the Lakota think about that. They may think the same thing we'd think if an Arab Muslim declared himself a Catholic saint or a pope. In other words, "No way in hell is this acceptable."
For more on non-Natives starring in Native movies, see Del Toro to Play Native Veteran, Open Letter to Johnny Depp's Tonto, and Mark Wahlberg as Billy Jack?