TNT's 'Crazy Horse' presents history through Indian eyes

July 07, 1996|By Mike Duffy | Mike Duffy,KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

"Crazy Horse" is history from an American Indian point of view, the fifth film in an ambitious Turner Network Television project that has included docudramas such as "Geronimo," "Tecumseh: The Last Warrior" and "Lakota Woman: Siege of Wounded Knee."

"Crazy Horse," which airs tonight on TNT from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and repeats at 10 p.m. and again at midnight, explores the life of the Oglala Sioux warrior and chief who led the Sioux and Cheyenne in their historic defeat of Custer and his men at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.

In the past, Hollywood typically viewed this bloody chapter in history through white eyes, with the controversial George Armstrong Custer at the center of the action as either tragic hero or misguided, arrogant fool.

But in "Crazy Horse," Custer isreduced to a bit player. "They're a brave people," he muses about the Sioux and Cheyenne. "But their time has passed. History moves on."

"Crazy Horse" makes an earnest attempt to put history in balance before moving on.

All 28 of the film's principal Indian characters are played by Indians. Most prominently, this includes Michael Greyeyes ("Geronimo") in the title role and Wes Studi ("The Last of the Mohicans") as Crazy Horse's disgruntled rival Red Cloud.

Still, "Crazy Horse" comes up a little short as drama.

But director John Irvin ("A Month by the Lake") and writer Robert Schenkkan, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play "The Kentucky Cycle," have nonetheless crafted a handsome, serious-minded chronicle of a mystical, offbeat hero.

Despite the occasional clunkiness of the narration, "Crazy Horse" ultimately succeeds at infusing a mythic Native American hero with some flesh-and-blood humanity.

Pub date: 7/07/96

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