Friday, August 24, 2007

Little Big Man

Little Big Man; western satire, USA, 1970; D: Arthur Penn, S: Dustin Hoffman, Chief Dan George, Martin Balsam, Richard Mulligan, Faye Dunaway
Jack Crabb is 121 years old and retells his life to a chronicer: in the 19th Century, Pawnee Indians killed his parents, he was adopted by the Cheyenne while his sister run away. Jack gets the name Little Big Man and his adopted grandfather, Old Lodge Skins, is teaching him about the wisdom of love. But during a fight Jack gets captured by the White and adopted by a reverend whose wife Louis is trying to seduce him. Later he sells false medicine, met his sister, learned how to shoot with a revolver and married Olga, who was kidnapped by the Indians. Jack returned to the Indians and got 4 wives that were killed by general Custer. Jack tricks Custer into an ambush where the latter died.

"Cheyennes, who called themselves human beings, didn't harm me". "People believe everything. The more incredible the better". "You have to wash. Take your clothes off and in the given moment I will turn my view away". Those are just few of the many hilarious dialogues of this amusing Western satire that mostly gains it's energy from an ironic view of the Old West. Dustin Hoffman brilliantly portrayed the main hero Jack, although he seems a little bit passive at moments due to lack of dramatic focus and acronym of characterisation. The director Arthur Penn ("Bonny & Clyde") placed his signature on the film and constructed him in a original way, full of quirky humor that breaks the cliches of the Western genre: in one scene, Indians look into the underpants of Jack's sister who she will be raped, but in reality they are only doing that because they are not sure if she is a man or a woman. One Indian character is so bizarre that he does everything backwards - he walks backwards, says "Hello" when he means "Good bye", baths in dry sand and dries himself in the lake, while some other one is gay. And the small details like the one where the unknown hero Jack influenced the outcome of general Custer's failure, neatly displays the raw gag of the "unknown celebrities" and serves as the forerunner of "Forrest Gump". "Little Big Man" has many flaws, but one enjoys in them. Excellent Chief Dan George was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe.


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