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Soldier Blue [DVD] 
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Violent anti-racist Western, based on events during the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre. A naive cavalry officer (Peter Strauss) and a resourceful young woman (Candice Bergen) survive a Native American attack and have to make their way home through the wilderness. As they face the hardships of the journey, the couple fall in love, only to witness a horrific bloodbath as the U.S. Cavalry takes revenge upon their enemy, in a battle that became notorious for its brutality.
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The principal male character comes across as an extraordinarily simple person for a soldier, in contrast to the feisty female he teams up with to survive whatever adversities the Wild West thrusts upon them when circumstances cast them adrift in the wilderness. Anticipations of what’s to come are spelt out rather too obviously perhaps for an educated audience, and the style of background music is almost painfully dated at times. But the story holds up well, and although there’s lots of talk, there is also plenty of action.
The Blu-ray presentation is absolutely first rate. The pictures are pin-sharp, showing no obvious aberrations for a film nearly 50 years old, and the audio, despite being in original mono, is surprisingly clean and clear – very satisfying. The only criticisms of the visuals perhaps are that blood is shown unnaturally gaudy and splodgy, falsifying reality at inopportune moments, and some of the darker scenes seem unnecessarily over-lit compared with how subtly they would be handled nowadays. On the other hand the scenery is deceptively gorgeous and inviting. Perhaps the rattlesnake skulking under an animal carcass was one of the few lucky survivors.
Overall, a significant piece of cinema history. A good yarn with a staggeringly effective finale, even if things falter occasionally en route. Anyone preferring to see films in an unexpurgated state probably won’t be disappointed by this version. The Blu-ray edition does not contain any “extras”, but in the light of much published information about the film, that probably doesn’t matter.
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