Review: ‘Imagining Indians’

Although the message of "Imagining Indians" is valid, pic's fanciful approach and occasionally shrill tone become off-putting over the long haul.

Although the message of “Imagining Indians” is valid, pic’s fanciful approach and occasionally shrill tone become off-putting over the long haul.

Pic — written, directed, shot, edited and produced by well-known Hopi indie producer Victor Masayesva Jr. — explores Hollywood’s insensitivity in its portrayal of Native Americans: Peoples and sacred rituals are used merely for background color with no understanding or perception of emotional depths.

Talking-head interviews feature actors and extras from many films, including “Dances With Wolves” and the two “Man Called Horse” pics, punctuated by clips from such pics as “The Plainsman,””Battle at Elderbush Gulch,””War Party” and “The Last Hunt.”

In between are repeated random scenes of a Native American woman at the dentist’s office, tongue-in-cheek narration, postmodern titles and a handful of fanciful fades and effects that distract from pic’s more serious intent. Unfortunately, “Imagining Indians” tries hard but ends up caught in its own cleverness.

Imagining Indians

(DOCU -- 16mm)

Production

An ITVS (Independent TV Service) production, in association with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Produced, directed, written, edited by Victor Masayesva Jr. Camera (color), Masayesva. Second camera, David Leitner; music, Jerry Hunt, E. Vincent Warren; narrator, Robb Webb. Reviewed at Margaret Mead Film Festival, Museum of Natural History, N.Y., Oct. 5, 1993. Running time: 90 MIN.
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