Essay: Thunderheart

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  • Subject area(s): Media essays
  • Reading time: 4 minutes
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  • Published on: July 26, 2019
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  • Number of pages: 2
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Modern cinema is a result of long work, planning and unique idea, which is embodied in the play of the actors. Planning the process of creating a certain film often is crucial in the creation of a movie worthy of attention. “Thunderheart” tells the story of the Native Americans who are forced to confront the government policy aimed at the infringement of their culture and its substitution by a new American tradition. The structure of the film, the brilliant script and quality actors’ play made this film as one of the best examples of western mystery movie.
The multiculturalism of modern society promotes that people see different cultures as part of the general cultural space. The formation of each individual culture is a historical process that has been exposed to external and internal factors. These factors often were causing irreversible changes in the behavior of people and the tradition of the existence of a particular ethnic group. First of all, all cultures were always intertwined and had a lot in common, regardless of location. However, sometimes people cannot accept other cultures when they are different from their understanding of the world. The difference in the outlook, traditions and customs encourages people to abandon coexistence with other cultures, making the representatives of that cultures unhappy. Native American Culture suffered a crushing policy of the government of the United States in a certain period, despite the fact that Native Americans are the forming part of American society. The structure of the film and its qualitative detection of specific topic allows viewers to understand the actual problem of cultural heritage, its assimilation and interweaving into the overall national context, the issue of Indian nationality and its role in shaping American society by the example of the life and experiences of Native Americans and the problems of discrimination, government policy and crime.
The film is designed so that viewers have a chance to see the problems that exist deeply in the consciousness of society and which are found in bias against Native Americans and their culture. “Thunderheart” is a story of Indian Reservation, which existed in the late 70’s. Moreover, this film is a in a certain way evidence of a struggle between traditionalists and progressive people in Indian culture. This means that the traditionalists, according to the plot, are accused of murder of one representative of progressive Indians. The idea is implemented in such a way that two FBI agents investigate the murder and constantly face the cultural challenges that exist in American society. This method of imaging is actually a part of the picture planning and its implementation. The fight of traditionalism and progressiveness also is manifested in an appropriate inclusion of mysticism, which borders with the real life. For example, the image of an owl in the movie means a precursor of death: “the owl is the messenger; it means somebody’s going to die” (Thunderheart). Such beliefs are inherent to natives, but they are also reflected in contemporary events. Thus, the director was able to plan the plot so that the events of the film did not go beyond the urgent social problems.
Moreover, the problem of cultural awakening, which applies to people, who were forced out by certain nationalities during the historical development, represented in the film by the example of a police officer Ray Levoi. He is a kind of embodiment of a long opposition to the gradual assimilation of Native American culture, because his position over the offenses that occur under the cover of government is clear – protect the rights of people, regardless of nationality and external distinctions. We know that the Europeans believed they cannot learn anything useful from the “natives”, so the cultural assimilation and substitution of Indian culture was the result of this vision. Of course, this view was wrong and it later gave birth to a number of cultural and social issues (Reyhner). Moreover, the problem of assimilation covers many aspects of education, which to this day is the key issue in US culture and education sphere, which requires prompt review and solving. Today American Indian education is becoming more accessible to different tribes, but the United States government has to pursue a policy of attraction of natives in the overall social life, which is devoid of prejudice and discrimination (Tribal College: Journal of American Indian Higher Education). To date, the creation of individual colleges and spread of culture of Indians, defending their rights is the main purpose of the educational sector of Native Americans. This policy is part of a strategy to restore justice in the cultural boundaries.
Levoi is aware of the meanness of the American government’s actions against the Native Americans and the threat of those policies that have contributed to the deterioration of relations between Native Americans and other inhabitants of America. This method of depiction of reality is part of a professional approach to structuring and planning, as each event of film has a specific meaning for the general context and even small details are the components of one moral. Moreover, the issue related to the problem of social networks and social relationship, because Roy, who in narrow circles is called “Thunderheart”, became a kind of embodiment of the Native American hero from the past, who would save them from all troubles. The kinship, which is inherent in all nations, is the basis for our tolerance and understanding, because every culture has a right to exist, despite the history of the nation and its place in society. The film shows not only the problems that exist in American society, but also their prospects and possible solutions, as each scene is imbued with patriotism of traditionalist American Indians, who hold all the traditions and do not want to merging with the newly established (regarding their) culture.
In conclusion, Native Americans’ history and their struggle for their own culture and identity is one of the most urgent problems of the late 20th century. “Thunderheart” is a film that showed the main problems of Native Americans’ culture, revealed the urgent topics about which most Americans do not dare talk. The structure of the film and its storyline, which is the result of planning, were the key of that the film has received numerous awards and, more importantly, showed the actual moral to millions of viewers.

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