movie scene

My only hope is that this movie has an impact on you. It wasn't made to manipulate your feelings, to reinvent the past, or to set the historical record straight.

It's a romantic look at a terrible time in our history, when expansion in the name of progress brought us very little and, in fact, cost us deeply.

-Kevin Costner

Did you know...

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Most of the information that follows on these pages was taken from the book "Dances With Wolves, The Illustrated Story of the Epic Film" by Kevin Costner, Michael Blake, and Jim Wilson © 1990 by Newmarket Press. It is not my intention to break any copyright laws, but since I don't have permission from the authors to reprint anything from their book, I can only hope they'll understand that I just want to share some very interesting information with other fans of the movie who may not have this book in their possession. I have 3 copies and I treasure every one of them.

If anyone involved with this book would like this information removed from the site, just let me know and I'll be happy to comply with your wishes.

the beginning

So often we think there is a difference between ourselves and the people who are actually in the movies. I would simply say to you that we probably have more in common than you think.

If you have chosen to have this book in your home, it probably means that you are a lover of movies. Knowing that, I feel secure in telling you that this foreword is meant as a personal introduction to both the movie and the thoughts that shaped it.

Dances With Wolves is first and foremost a movie, and should be seen as one. The value of this book will never measure up to the first time you experience the movie. Since I know the story, I will forever be jealous of the pureness in which you are able to approach and see it.

foreword by Kevin Costner © 1990

Casting the Native Americans was a challenge. We hired actors from all over the U.S. and Canada, and many tribes other than the Sioux participated (though 250 Sioux from the South Dakota reservations worked as extras). One criterion was that we had to have people with an authentic period look, and a lot of urban Indians had cut their hair, or didn't have the right look. But our casting director, Elizabeth Leustig, did an incredible job finding people who not only looked the part but brought the characters to life.

I didn't register the scope of this movie until we were actually on location and I added up how many period wagons we needed. I hadn't quite imagined what Kevin had in mind. I soon found out. For our buffalo hunt we ended up with a helicopter, 10 pickup trucks, 24 bareback Indian riders, 150 extras, 20 wranglers to handle a herd of 3,500 real buffalo, 25 recreated buffalo, and 7 cameras. Logistically, what we managed to accomplish still amazes me, and there were plenty of people who doubted we could pull it off. They said it couldn't be done for the amount of money we had… that it was ridiculous for Kevin in his directorial debut to take on such a problematic period film involving children, animals, and the challenge of shooting in all four seasons.

producer's notes by Jim Wilson © 1990

So the novel Dances With Wolves was written in part because I wanted to present some of the record of history as I see it. It was my hope that in showing what was lost, something might be regained - not the least of which could be new respect for the proud descendants of the people I wrote about, who are living yet on reserves where our ancestors confined them.

Everything was so unspoiled in 1863 - the year Dances With Wolves takes place - but I missed it all. And by reading history I could imagine it only to a point. By creating Lieutenant Dunbar, I could actually live it to an extent that surpassed my expectations. I am living it still.

author's notes by Michael Blake © 1990

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