1970 film starring Richard Harris, directed by Elliot Silverstein, based on a novel by Dorothy M. Johnson.
Considered part of the Western genre, but under closer examination appears to be one of those late 1960s/early 1970s films about the nature of what's so funny about peace, love and understanding. Basically, we have Richard Harris as Lord John Morgan, an English gentleman of some note who has lost his way on the American frontier. Stumbling around the Dakotas, he is picked up by some Sioux Indians. They decide he needs a killin', but they end up changing their mind about the killin'. Instead they put him through some tests meant to measure his honor and manhood. These climax with the exciting and really intestinally satisfying Sun Vow Initiation, which is when you'll need to put down your bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken because you won't feel quite as hungry any more.
You see, I accidently stumbled upon this movie on the UHF dial while in Junior High School. I was skipping school that day and just wanted to watch a movie, chill out and enjoy the fruits of freedom. What I got instead was this film, which made me really want to go back to school because every time I heard any sort of noise in the house I thought they were Sioux Indians and they were going to make me pass some tests as well.
The tribe needs to determine whether Lord John Morgan is an enemy, like so many of the white men they have recently encountered, or if he is a friend. To be a friend he must have the honor and courage needed to pass these tests. If he does, he will become a member of the tribe. Otherwise they have to go back to that whole killin' thing. And he doesn't understand anything they are saying, because they are speaking Sioux and he is speaking "proper" English. Well, then there is a kind of romantic sparkling between Lord John Morgan and a Sioux woman known as Buffalo Cow Head (and what would happen in our society to a woman with such a name?), who has some problems of her own (not including the fact that she is the only non-Native American other than Richard Harris in the tribe because she is played by Dame Judith Anderson).
I didn't really mean to skip school that day. It was just that I had to cut through these woods to get there and it was raining pretty hard. I had seen some shadows up there and I was afraid of shadows in those days. Knowing my parents had left for work, I just went home. If only that movie had not been on television I would have been fine. Fine, I tell you!
The film angled for accuracy and a "true depiction" of 19th century life amongst a Sioux tribe. The film can confuse you with its ongoing use of Sioux as the primary language and there aren't any subtitles (as far as I remember). You get to try to feel as confused as Lord John Morgan as he stumbles around amongst the tribe.
There were two sequels that really didn't catch the magic of the original. These were the early days of sequels, before they became really big business and a way to at least break even on your budget. They milked storylines that were never really there in the first place, and having seen both sequels, I can say they make you feel a bit less in love with the original.
Then again, if you make love to a beautiful woman and her two less attractive sisters come by and throw themselves onto your lap, that can do something to you as well. I'm just not sure what.
See the film, but watch it alone. It is a movie to be watched by a man in his home during a rainstorm in the summer when all of his wells have run dry. I recommend venison and gin and tonic as an accompanyment.