April 29, 1970: A Man Called Horse

“A man called “Horse” becomes an Indian warrior in the most electrifying ritual ever seen!”

A_Man_Called_Horse-1970A Man Called Horse is an American Western film starring Richard Harris and directed by Elliot Silverstein. Based on a short story by Dorothy M. Johnson, “A Man Called Horse”, published in 1950 in Collier’s magazine and again in 1968 in Johnson’s book Indian Country. The basic story was used in a 1958 episode of the TV show Wagon Train titled “A Man Called Horse”. Partially spoken in Sioux, the film tells the history of an English aristocrat, John Morgan, who is captured by the Sioux people.

Initially enslaved and mocked by being treated as an animal, John Morgan comes to respect his captors’ culture and gain their respect. He is aided in understanding the Sioux by a captive, Batise, the tribe’s half-breed fool, who had tried to escape and was hamstrung behind both knees.

Cinema-US-04-29-1970

Determining that his only chance of freedom is to gain the respect of the tribe, he overcomes his repugnance and kills two warriors from the neighboring (enemy) Shoshone tribe, which allows him to claim warrior status. After his victory, he proposes marriage to one of the women with the horses taken in battle as bride-price and undergoes painful initiation rites, taking the native name “Shunkawakan” (or “Horse”) as his Sioux name.

When one of the warriors takes a vow never to retreat in battle, Morgan’s changing perspective is shown, as he turns angrily on the uncomprehending Batise, telling him: “Five years you’ve lived here, and you’ve learned nothing about these people – all his death is to you is a means of escape.”

After successfully helping to fend off an attack by the enemy tribe, he becomes a respected member of the tribe and ultimately their leader.

Two sequels to the original movie were made, both with Harris reprising his role: The Return of a Man Called Horse (1976) and Triumphs of a Man Called Horse (1983). [Wikipedia]

 

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