Customer Reviews

63
4.5 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2011
Recounting how the West was won through the eyes of a white man raised as a Native American, Arthur Penn's 1970 adaptation of Thomas Berger's satirical novel was a comic yet stinging allegory about the bloody results of American imperialism.

As a misguided 20th century historian listens, 121-year-old Jack Crabb (Dustin Hoffman) narrates the story of being the only white survivor of Custer's Last Stand. White orphan Crabb was adopted by the Cheyenne, renamed "Little Big Man," and raised in the ways of the "Human Beings" by paternal mentor Old Lodge Skins (Chief Dan George), accepting non-conformity and living peacefully with nature.

Violently thrust into the white world, Jack meets a righteous preacher (Thayer David) and his wife (Faye Dunaway), tries to be a gunfighter under the tutelage of Wild Bill Hickock (Jeff Corey), and gets married. Returned to the Cheyenne by chance, Jack prefers life as a Human Being.

Three years after the seminal "Bonnie and Clyde," Arthur Penn made the epic and revisionist Western, Little Big Man. Reflecting the times in which the movie was made the anti-Vietnam war era director Penn put white murderousness and racism at the center of his narrative. Politically speaking, the atrocities against the Native Americans were meant to signify those against Vietnam at the time.

For most of the film, the tone is comic and even satirical: all kinds of colorful characters turn up, disappear, and turn up again. Also, the film frequently shifts in tone, from farce to comedy to drama and tragedy - this may upset many viewers, who are not used to such a strategy. But despite that the amazing thing is that this mock epic Western came out as well as it did. You can credit that to the effortless acting and, also, there's a lot of meat in all those vignettes that offer social criticism against Native American genocide, religious and sexual hypocrisy, and the stupidity of revenge.

The chameleon perpetual adolescent character played by Hoffman has its appealing moments, but the film is stolen by the nonchalant Chief Dan George spouting wisdom and mixing in a stand-up comic routine and dishing out ladles of humanity. There's also a counter-cultural take on an effeminate homosexual named Little Horse, who is allowed to be himself by the Cheyenne and is even cherished by the chief. As for Hoffman? One of his best performances to date.

Easily one of the most entertaining (and overlooked) Westerns of the early 1970s.

DVD extras only include chapter selection and language options. Aspect ratio is 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
These are the words spoken, after the Battle of the Little Big Horn, by the outstanding Chief Dan George, playing tribal leader Old Lodge Skins. He is referring to the Cheyenne (Human Beings)and the destruction of its people and way of life, by the New American civilisation.
Hoffman is Jack Crabbe, the 121-year-old sole survivor of Custer's Last Stand. Little Big Man is the name given to him by his adoptive Cheyenne family. The film starts with the aged Jack being interviewed in a nursing home, where he begins to recount his amazing life story up to the point of that famous event. The narrative is episodic, detailing his first hand experiences of the Indian and white cultures and their deadly interaction.
This is a powerful and entertaining film, genuinely very funny and chokingly sad in all the right places. It is a more satisfying film than 'Dances With Wolves' and has the majesty and depth of a Native American 'Les Miserables'.
WARNING!!! If you are a General Custer fan, beware of Richard Mulligan's hysterically manic Basil Fawlty style interpretation of the legend - he's more barking than a pack of rabid coyotes.
This is a classic that deserves a place in your DVD library.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Superb satire on the emotional repressions, sexual hypocrisies, genocidal tendencies & lack of morality of Caucasians - endlessly-worried about what others think about them.

Tirelessly-demythologizing the Hollywood Western by carefully-revealing what lies behind the myths: Whites generating income by drastically-reducing the life-expectancy of members of other cultures.

Native-Americans know where the center of the Earth is because they are grounded as a People. The humor here is at the expense of Whites, who are shown more concerned with their individual appearance than with their individual identity. Richard MULLIGAN, as General Custer, brilliantly-represents this White malaise produced through Whites possessing a disrespectful culture that can only express itself in degeneracy and desecration.

“Whatever else you can say about them, it must be admitted, you cannot get rid of them... There is an endless supply of white men, but there always has been a limited number of Human Beings.”
Old Lodge Skins (played by Chief Dan George). Little Big Man (1970).

Here, the White world is portrayed as the source of chaos; explaining the widespread White mental illness on show here. To be accepted as White, one is required to become as mad as they; to become human, one must battle Whites. This White inability to see people as they really are is reflected in a recurring motif of many of the White characters not recognizing each other after years have passed since seeing one another. It is almost as if Whites really do all look alike - even to each other. A dearth of individuation caused by the combination of a lack of a substantive culture and an unwillingness to see beyond the ends of their noses.

Inevitably, then, since this movie perfectly-portrays the White penchant for killing defenseless women & children in total wars of annihilation, it then becomes a historical analogue for the White imperialism of recent decades.

Faye DUNAWAY is excellent as the sex-starved wife of a coitus-fearing Christian preacher who calls her adulterous lover ‘filthy’ & ‘dirty’, calls out for help when he is lying between her legs and yet cannot wait for him to come inside her. Chief Dan GEORGE is superb as the visionary Indian who sees the writing on the wall for the continued existence of the Red man and is amusingly-resigned to their fate. Richard MULLIGAN is staggeringly-funny in an over-the-top performance as the chronically-neurotic General Custer; allowing us to see all the more clearly the Heart of Darkness within. Like Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, his only dream is the dream of all death-worshipers: Experiencing death through murdering others in the hope they will never have to experience it first hand; thereby overcoming their fear of death through the figurative pulling-off of flies wings. This is never a satisfyingly-authentic experience for anyone, however, precisely because it is second-hand; explaining Custer’s absurdly-suicidal battle tactics at the Little Big Horn which climaxes the movie.

While Westerns like this brought about the end of the Hollywood Western as a commercial movie genre in the West, itself, by trying to show the real West that was constantly elided in the interests of sustaining the myth of the White Man’s Burden, the form collapsed fighting to gain some artistic integrity after decades of White supremacist propaganda about which phenotype was the real hero of the The Wild West.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 23 March 2001
Arthur Penn's long, beautifully shot, episodic western opens in a hospital ward where ancient Jack Crabbe (a barely-recognizable Dustin Hoffman) is interviewed by a reporter (William Hickey) about his experiences with the Cheyenne as an old "Indian fighter". What follows is Jack's life story from the time he was adopted by the Cheyenne ("who call themselves the 'Human Beings'") after the massacre of his parents, to the climactic Battle of the Little Big Horn (Custer's Last Stand). The tone throughout is satirical, sometimes whimsical, and there are many very funny as well as genuinely touching scenes, as the action moves from Jack's youth as a Cheyenne brave; his capture, more cowardly than brave, by the U.S. cavalry; his adoption by a Puritanical preacher and young wife (played with great style and comic sensuousness by Faye Dunaway); and spells as con-man, black-clad gunfighter, store-owner, Indian scout and drunk. Hoffman is excellent, but equal credit goes to Chief Dan George as Jack's adopted Cheyenne grandfather, Old Lodge Skins, who is the heart and soul of the story, and the rest of the cast all perform brilliantly. As an indictment of White America's destruction of the native inhabitants, this film is more uncompromising than the book on which it is based, and while the white characters in general are portrayed as vicious, dishonest or contemptible, the character of General Custer is given a thorough mauling (Custer ends the final battle as a raving lunatic). The film may take a few liberties with historical accuracy, but the result is an engrossing, entertaining and moving black-comedy which I could not recommend too highly.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
CAREFUL - A FEW SPOILERS

Christopher Columbus "discovered" America but the Indians, the indigenous Americans, were already there. This 1970s classic "western" is a great addition to any DVD collection, providing a powerful insight into their lives from a very unusual angle.

Jack Crabb (a difficult to recognise Hoffman) is 121 years old as the film begins and, being questioned by historians, tells his life story in episodes - captured by Indians, seeing his Indian wife killed by the 7th Cavalry and scouting for General Custer to name but a few. Living with the Indians gave Crabb the unusual perspective of being able to call them family and, as we increasingly view life from his viewpoint, viewers begin to feel less and less sympathy for the invaders. In this powerful, moving and poignant film, Dustin Hoffman is excellent with great support from a long list of good actors, e.g. Faye Dunaway and Chief Dan George and an outrageous General Custer played by Richard Mulligan.

The original novel by Thomas Berger was brought to the screen through Calder Willingham's screenplay and directed with great vigour and imagination by Arthur Penn. In a film of this type, it was essential not to be condescending to the indigenous population and their lives and it succeeds in every respect while presenting the white invaders in a less than favourable light. In the 1970s, this was a very unusual approach.

The obvious message does not overpower the story or plot and it is humorous in places and heart-rendingly moving in others.

Recommended
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on 25 January 2015
I have loved this film ever since I saw it many years ago. It is the fictional story of Jack Crabbe and the Wild West as his life moves back and forth from living with settlers to among the indians. It is a humourous film and looks great. A good cast and very enjoyable.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on 5 September 2014
Hoffman makes this film entirely...a perfect balance between black comedy and historical tragedy... one man is carried through the mythology of how the west was won and how the USA has never looked back or at least not very closely.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 7 November 2003
In the 50's and the 60's the screens were overloaded with classical Westerns. And although many of them were very well made - featuring real western icons of the silver screen like John Wayne, Gary Cooper and so many others - they were very classical in the sense of: "the only good 'injun' is a dead 'injun'".

Especially the 70's, but also later, brought us another type of western. A type were the native Americans were shown as the "noble savage" (think about such movies as "A Man called Horse" or "Dances with Wolves").

This alternative western probably has the right of it: neither side was extremely noble and either side could be savage. This picture shows us the west how it could have been, with people lusting for land and money, but also with people trying simply to survive.

In this way it is quite satyrical and Dustin Hoffman brings his performance of a west veteran to an incredible high. All in all probably the best western I've ever seen. Highly recommended.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on 3 December 2014
Superb western movie from Arthur Penn. Great quality blu-ray with fantastic widescreen image en nice 5.1 sound. A pity there are no extra's besides a trailer. 5 stars though!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on 23 March 2015
A wonderfully sprawling, epic account of a White boy growing up among Native Americans, and living to become the oldest survivor of the Battle of Little Big Horn.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this item also viewed

A Man Called Horse [DVD]
A Man Called Horse [DVD] by Richard Harris (DVD - 2004)
£4.88

Soldier Blue [DVD] [1970]
Soldier Blue [DVD] [1970] by Candice Bergen (DVD - 2008)
£7.50
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.