Dancing with the wolves

Dance with Wolves ( Dances with Wolves ) or Dances with Wolves in Quebec is an American film directed by Kevin Costner in 1990 1 , 2 . This is an adaptation of the novel of the same name written in 1988 by Michael Blake .

This is one of the most awarded films for a director who is also a producer and main actor of his film. Indeed, he received seven Oscars , three Golden Globes and the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.


A northerner officer decorated with the Civil War, joined his wish for a fort on the border. The camp deserted on the spot and isolated from all, it is with the Sioux that it sympathizes and the rapprochement becomes fraternal. He is now dubbed “Dance with Wolves” and gives up his job to live by their side.


In 1863, Lt. John Dunbar, who was to undergo a leg amputation following a serious injury during the American Civil War , handed over his boot, randomly selected a horse named Cisco, and reacted in a desperate and suicidal way. making a round trip at a gallop in front of the enemy lines; he miraculously escapes the bullets, which encourages his companions to launch a decisive attack, and will allow him thereafter to benefit from the care of the general’s personal surgeon, admiring of his exploit. Once decorated and fully restored, he requests his transfer to a Wild West outpost.to escape the horror of the memory of war. He finds himself alone and satisfied with being in a “fort” – actually a wooden cabin with a separate shed – mysteriously deserted by the small troop that was supposed to hold it, and waiting for the arrival of hypothetical reinforcements. He has for companions a lone young wolf he calls “Socks” (” Two Socks And slowly tamed, as well as his trusty Cisco mount. But the reinforcements do not arrive because the only two men who know about the presence of Dunbar in this forward station die before being able to report it: the imbalanced major who affected him commits suicide just after the departure of Dunbar and the muleteer who he drove there with the loading of food, equipment and ammunition destined for the garrison is slaughtered on the way home by a small group of Pawnee Indians .

His days boil down to covering the region and then recording his observations in his diary. Only a nearby Sioux Indian tribe finds his job. His relations with some of the members of the tribe, who are discovered to be at a few hours’ ride from the Dunbar post, are conflicting, mistrustful and frightening. Sioux to steal his horse. Gradually, Dunbar establishes contact by rescuing a white Indian, “Dressed with the Fist” (” Stands with the fist “), Who was trying to commit suicide after the death of her husband Sioux. Communication is difficult, and exchanges are brief. But the lieutenant will eventually become friends with the tribe, so much so that he is regularly invited to the Indian camp. One day, while his Sioux friends feverishly await the arrival of the bison, he rushes to their encampment to announce that he has spotted them, passing near the post he holds. He is invited to hunt with them. During the hunt, he saves a young Indian (“Much Smiles”) from the load of a huge bison, which earns him the respect and admiration of the whole community, as well as his total admission among them. The lieutenant is seen playing with the wolf Socks he “adopted”; Dances with wolves “).

He weaves and maintains privileged relations with “Bird leaping”, the “holy man” of the tribe, adoptive father of Dressed with the fist , with Hair in the wind , a great warrior, or Ten Bear , the chief of the village. He falls under the spell of Dressée with the fist that mediates between him and the Indians, because she speaks English, her native language, since she was collected and adopted very young by the Sioux being the only one to have survived and escaped the massacre of his family by the Pawnees, the enemy tribe.

Over the months, Lieutenant John Dunbar completely abandons his role as a soldier, and becomes Sioux. He married Erected Fist after that leaping Bird raised his mourning, and saves all the tribe of attack Pawnee, going to recover in the rain with smiles much the stock of guns he had buried near the strong.

But the white soldiers arrive in the territories of the Indians; this threat – which weighs on the whole film – worries the tribe. She decides to migrate for the winter and the lieutenant returns one last time to the fort, to recover the notebook in which he keeps his precious diary since the first day, so as not to leave a clue.

When he arrives near the station, he discovers that the succession has finally arrived, made of soldiers and brutal illiterates who symbolize the return to the civilization he had left. The post was expanded with camp tents and many soldiers guard it. Dressed and dressed as an Indian, the lieutenant is shot and his horse is mortally wounded, himself being brutally beaten.

Subsequently, he is sent back to the east chained and under a good escort, in order to be tried and hanged for treason. During this transfer, his guards kill Socks who had shown up to follow his friend.

But the Indians, anxious not to see Dance with the Wolves return , sent warriors to look for him. They assault the convoy and deliver the lieutenant, slaughtering his escort, himself killing the most despicable and mean of his guards, the one who stole his diary and used it as toilet paper.

After joining the newly installed winter camp, John Dunbar decides to leave the tribe with his wife, Fisted , after persuading Ten Bear to move the camp. Indeed, the army considers him a traitor and his research may endanger the community. He then decides to leave to be able to explain, equipped, as proof, with his precious diary returned by Sourit Many who had miraculously recovered floating in the river after the assault on the convoy. The army finds the camp moved and a wolf howls in the distance.

Technical sheet

Unless otherwise stated, this data sheet is based on IMDb 3 .

  • French title: Danse avec les loups
  • Original title: Dances with Wolves
  • Director: Kevin Costner
  • Scenario: Michael Blake , from his own novel
  • Artistic direction: William Ladd Skinner
  • Sets: Lisa Dean  (en)
  • Costumes: Elsa Zamparelli  (en)
  • Photography: Dean Semler
  • Sound: Robert Fitzgerald
  • Editing: William Hoy
  • Music: John Barry
  • Production: Kevin Costner , Jim Wilson
  • Production Companies 4 : Tig Productions , Majestic Films International
  • Distribution Companies: Image Entertainment , MGM Home Entertainment , Orion Pictures Corporation (United States) , Guild Home Video , (United Kingdom) , AMLF (France)
  • Production budget: $ 19,000,000
  • Country of Origin: United States , United Kingdom
  • Language: English , Lakota , pawnee
  • Format 5 : Colors – 2.35: 1 – 35 mm DTS Dolby Digital SDDS sound
  • Genre: Adventure , Drama , Western
  • Duration: 181 minutes / 236 minutes ( long version 1992 remastered )
  • Release dates in theaters 6 :
    •  United States :
    •  United Kingdom :
    •  France :


  • Kevin Costner (VF: Jean-Marie Winling ) : Lt. John J. Dunbar / “Dance with Wolves” ( Lakota : Šuŋgmánit Tȟáŋka Ób Wačhí ) 7
  • Mary McDonnell (VF: Marie Vincent ) : Adult Christine / “Hand Fist” ( Lakota : Napépȟeča Nážiŋ Wiŋ ) 8
  • Graham Greene (VF: Benoît Allemane ) : Bouncing bird ( lakota : Ziŋtká Nagwáka ), the “holy man” of the tribe 9
  • Rodney A. Grant : Hair with Winds ( Lakota : Pȟehíŋ Otȟáte ) 10
  • Floyd Westerman : Chief Ten Bears ( lakota : Matȟó Wikčémna ) 11
  • Tantoo Cardinal : Black Shawl ( Lakota : Šiná Sápa Wiŋ ), wife of ” Bouncing Bird”
  • Wes Studi : The fierce warrior Pawnee , killed by the whole Sioux tribe
  • Michael Spears : Otter (Otter in OV ) ( Lakota : Ptáŋ )
  • Jimmy Herman  (en) : Stone Shank (Stone Calf in VO ) ( lakota : Íŋyaŋ Ptehíŋčala ) old wise man of the tribe
  • Nathan Lee Chasing His Horse  (in) : smiles a lot, ( Lakota : Iȟá was ) young Sioux warrior, rescued by Lt. John J. Dunbar in the buffalo hunt, and that helps to find weapons buried at Fort Sedgewick)
  • Jason R. Lone Hill : Worm in OV ) ( lakota : Waglúla )
  • Doris Leader Charge : Pretty Shield, Chief Bear’s Wife
  • Robert Pastorelli (VF: Jean-Yves Chatelais ) : Timmons (the itinerant solitary muleteer, bringing Lt. John J. Dunbar to Fort Sedgewick)
  • Wayne Grace (VF: William Sabatier ) : Major
  • Donald Hotton (VF: Jean Michaud ) : General Tide
  • Frank.P Costanza : Tucker
  • Charles Rocket : Lieutenant Elgin
  • Maury Chaykin (VF: Michel Barbey ) : Major Fambrough (the “lopsided” major who signs Lt. John J. Dunbar’s assignment at Fort Sedgewick, and then commits suicide)
  • Larry Joshua  (in) : Sergeant Bauer
  • Tony Pierce : Spivey
  • Tom Everett (VF: Jacques Bouanich ) : Sergeant Pepper
  • Kirk Baltz : Edwards
  • Annie Costner : Christine child
  • Jim Wilson (VF: Eric Herson-Macarel ) : the doctor
  • Michael Horton  ( VF: Patrick Poivey ) : Captaine Cargill (long version)
Sources and legendFrench version (VF) on AlloDoublage 12


Around the film

  • The roles of Indians in the film are interpreted by true Indians ( mostly Sioux ) who speak or have learned the Sioux language: the lakota thanks to Doris Leader Charge, the only true representative of the Sioux people and native of South Dakota .
  • Kevin Costner’s first performance, the film was shot primarily in South Dakota , but also in Wyoming .
  • While the filming plan is scheduled for 60 days, it will last 108, forcing Kevin Costner to pay a good quarter of the budget from his pocket to finish the film.
  • At the beginning of the movie How High , Silas quotes Dance with the Wolves as Kevin Costner’s film , which he later describes as a “pack of bullshit”.
  • The character “Dressed with the fist” of the film is inspired by Cynthia Ann Parker 13 .

Project Genesis

Michael Blake wrote a first screenplay in the early 1980s . When Kevin Costner got wind of it, he suggested to Blake to turn this writing into a novel, to increase his chances of making a film. The scriptwriter followed his advice, and eventually found a publisher in 1988. Costner immediately purchased the rights of the book for the cinema, in order to achieve Dance with the Wolves .

Long version

A year after the release of the film in cinemas, a long version appears in some cinemas around the world. This new mounting 236 minutes restores nearly an hour of scenes that were removed for its initial release 14 .

This long version director’s cut is then released in Laserdisc in 1993. It is later reissued in special edition DVD in 2003. Finally the film is released in Blu-Ray in 2009 in this same version.

Differences with the novel

  • In the novel, Dunbar meets Comanches and not Sioux , suggesting that the place of action is different.
  • The major who sends Dunbar into the outpost abandoned at the beginning of the story does not commit suicide in the novel. Become senile, he is sent back to the east and is unable to convince others that he has sent a man to the border. Note that in the film, unlike the novel, it does not say what happened to the former occupants of the fort.
  • Some names have been slightly modified, at least in the French version: “Dressed with the fist” was called “The One Who Dares With A Closed Fist” in the novel, “Bird leaping” was called “Bird strike” and the Wolf “Two Socks”, “Two Boots”.
  • Unlike the novel, Dunbar and Christine leave the Sioux tribe at the end of the film.
  • In the novel, Timmons, the peasant who led Lt. Dumbar to Fort Sedgewick, is attacked on the way back to Fort Hays by a small band of Pawnee warriors, drawn by the smoke from the little green-wood fire lit to cook. slices of bacon making up his breakfast. After an arrow lands in his buttock, he tries to escape on foot but is caught by one of the warriors who smashes his head with a jigsaw puzzlein stone, before scalping it. In the film, Chief Pawnee, who is the most reckless of the small troop, shoots a first arrow that lands in the right buttock of Timmons, who, horrified, tries to escape, but receives a second arrow to the back of the left leg. Chief Pawnee shoots him four more arrows in the chest, including three while Timmons is on the ground, before scalping. Once the cart has been plundered by the other warriors, the driver’s body is abandoned in the tall grass, an arrow left as a signature.
  • Dunbar’s suicidal act, perceived as heroic by his superiors who opens the film, is recounted in the novel in the form of a memory of Lieutenant Dunbar already arriving at Fort Sedgewick.


Box office

The film was a major commercial success 15 , yielding about 424 208 000 $ at the box office worldwide, including 184 208 000 $ in North America , with a budget of 19 million 16 . In France , he completed 7,280,124 admissions.


It received a favorable critical reception, receiving 80% of positive reviews, with an average rating of 7.2 / 10 and based on 55 reviews collected, on the Rotten Tomatoes 17 aggregator site .


This section summarizes the main awards and nominations obtained by the film. For an exhaustive list, refer to the Internet Movie Database 18 .

Awards and Appointments

Year Distinction Category Name Result
1990 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best film Dancing with the wolves Nomination
Best Director Kevin Costner Nomination
Price New Generation Award Kevin Costner Nomination
National Board of Review Best film Dancing with the wolves laureate
Best Director Kevin Costner laureate
Top 10 movies Dancing with the wolves laureate
1991 Berlinale Silver bear Kevin Costner laureate
Golden bear Kevin Costner Nomination
Chicago Film Critics Association Best photography Dean Semler laureate
Best film Dancing with the wolves Nomination
Best Director Kevin Costner Nomination
Best screenplay Michael Blake Nomination
David di Donatello Best foreign film Kevin Costner Nomination
Best foreign actor Kevin Costner Nomination
Golden Globes Best Director Kevin Costner laureate
Best screenplay Michael Blake laureate
Best Dramatic Film Dancing with the wolves laureate
Best actor in a dramatic movie Kevin Costner Nomination
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Mary McDonnell Nomination
Best movie music John Barry Nomination
Oscars of cinema 19 Best film Dancing with the wolves laureate
Best Director Kevin Costner laureate
Best editing Neil Travis laureate
Best music in the movie John Barry laureate
Best photograph Dean Semler laureate
Best sound mix Bill W. Benton, Gregory Watkins, Jeffrey Perkins, Russell Williams II laureate
Best adapted scenario Michael Blake laureate
Best actor Kevin Costner Nomination
Best Supporting Actor Graham Greene Nomination
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Mary McDonnell Nomination
Best decorations Jeffrey Beecroft, Lisa Dean Nomination
Best Costume Design Elsa Zamparelli Nomination
1992 BAFTA Awards Best film Kevin Costner, Jim Wilson Nomination
Best Director Kevin Costner Nomination
Best actor Kevin Costner Nomination
Best screenplay Michael Blake Nomination
Best photography Dean Semler Nomination
Best editing Neil Travis Nomination
Best makeup and hairstyles Francisco X. Pérez Nomination
Best movie music John Barry Nomination
Best sound Bill W. Benton, Gregory Watkins, Jeffrey Perkins, Russell Williams II Nomination
Grammy Awards Best soundtrack John Barry laureate
Mainichi Film Award Best foreign film Kevin Costner laureate
Silver ribbon Best costumes Elsa Zamparelli Nomination


Sources and Bibliography

  • (in) Michael Blake Dances with Wolves , Ballantine Books , 1988, 320 p. ( ISBN  978-0-449-00075-5 )
  • (in) Michael Blake, The Holy Road , ZOVA Books, 2011, 352 p. ( ISBN  978-0-615-51057-6 )

Notes and references

  1. ↑ (in) ” Dances with Wolves ”  [ archive ] , on IMDb .
  2. ↑ David Humbert, “Dances with Wolves”  [ archive ] , on The World,.
  3. ↑ (in) Complete team of the film ”  [ archive ] , on IMDb .
  4. ↑ (in) Company Credits ”  [ archive ] , on IMDb .
  5. ↑ (in) Technical ”  [ archive ] , on IMDb .
  6. ↑ (in) Release dates ”  [ archive ] , on IMDb .
  7. ↑ ” Kevin Costner ”  [ archive ] , on Allociné .
  8. ↑ ” Mary McDonnell ”  [ archive ] , on Allociné .
  9. ↑ ” Graham Greene ”  [ archive ] , on Allociné .
  10. ↑ ” Rodney A. Grant ”  [ archive ] , on Allociné .
  11. ↑ ” Floyd Westerman ”  [ archive ] , on Allociné .
  12. ↑ “French dubbing sheet of the film”  [ archive ] , on AlloDoublage .
  13. ↑ (in) Angela Aleiss, Making the White Man’s Indian: Native Americans and Hollywood Movies, Westport, Conn. 2005 p.  145 [ archive ] .
  14. ↑ Dance with Wolves on Movie-Censorship [ archive ] .
  15. ↑ François Forestier, ” ” Dances with Wolves “: the unexpected success of Kevin Costner ”  [ archive ] , on the Obs ,.
  16. ↑ (in) Box office / Business ”  [ archive ] , on IMDb .
  17. ↑ (in) Dances with Wolves ”  [ archive ] , on Rotten Tomatoes .
  18. ↑ (in) Awards ”  [ archive ] , on IMDb .
  19. ↑ ” Seven Oscars for” Dance with Wolves “ »  [ archive ] , on Les Echos.fr,.

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