Hollywood has been referred to as the as the second greatest enemy of Native Americans next to the Government itself. Though this theory has faded over the years and today one could find that the Native American stereotypes in Hollywood are perceived in a more positive light; rightfully so since the damage for the most part has already been done. Needless to say, Hollywood has come a long way. An excellent film about Native Americans is The Fast Runner (2001) based on a genuine Indian legend of a specific Canadian tribe (the Inuit) told in a style respectful to the culture. None of the cruel depictions that are usually displayed of Native Peoples are apparent in this film. This film is about real people with an all Indian cast. The other film that comes to mind is of course, The Last of the Mohicans (1992) the full-length feature version of the James Fenimore Cooper novel that succeeds in restoring a profound respect for American Indians. Like the novel, the Indians in the film are portrayed as both savage and noble, but the overall theme of the film is about more than just a white man being adopted by Indians. The film is about a man standing between two civilizations at a time when the Natives were richer and more powerful than that of the European settlers. The film is widely considered to be one of Michael Mann’s best. I believe this theory could be in due part to the fact that besides the main character, “Hawkeye” played by, Daniel Day-Lewis (maybe the greatest actor of our generation) the perception that a white man raised by Indians to be ultimately better than Indians could easily be looked at as a negative stereotype but I believe the “Hawkeye” character is written in this light to create the love story which is the center-piece in the narrative, really. At the same time, the audience can actually view the Hollywood perception of how the Native people of North America were perceived before the European settlers arrived and took over.
Man isn’t a noble savage, he’s an ignoble savage. He is irrational, brutal, weak, silly, unable to be objective about anything where his own interests are involved — that about sums it up. I’m interested in the brutal and violent nature of man because it’s a true picture of him. And any attempt to create social institutions on a false view of the nature of man is probably doomed to failure.—–Stanley Kubrick