"Black Cloud" Has Silver Linings
- Indian Comics Irregular #139
Back in 2004, Rick Schroder of "Silver Spoons" and "NYPD Blue" fame made a movie about a Navajo boxer. Last year it opened in limited release, but I didn't have time to cover it. Let's rectify that situation now with a roundup of comments:
"Black Cloud" is a modest, straightforward but affecting
coming-of-age story about a young Navajo with a real talent for
boxing but who is also his own worst enemy. It marks a solid
writing and directing debut for actor Rick Schroder, and it is
above all a fine showcase for Eddie Spears, a handsome,
well-muscled Lakota Sioux with a smoldering screen presence.
Navajo Nation locales, including sequences set in Monument Valley
and Canyon de Chelly, provide the film's photogenic settings. (LA
Rick Schroder doing a movie about Indians?
"I was impressed with their friendliness," Schroder said in a
telephone interview, explaining why.
He said he got to know a Native family from Chinle, Ariz., in the
heart of the Navajo Reservation, became friends with them and was
inspired by a boxing coach who was making efforts to protect Native
youth from the perils of gang violence and drug abuse.
When asked about the possibility that his film stereotypes Native
American spirituality, Schroder said, "I don't know how to respond
to that. I'm not going to defend my film. I think it stands on
Schroder added that he's "had eyes all over this project" since its
inception and plenty of input from the Indian community.
He said he plans to give back to the Native American community in
the form of scholarships. (RezNet News, 4/9/05)
For decades Hollywood portrayed Indians as savages, enemies and
losers. Now a generation of Native American filmmakers and actors
is trying to overturn stereotypes and tell its own truth.
"Not many movies have us portrayed as winners," actor Eddie Spears
told an audience of about 75 at Montana State University on
Spears stars as an angry young Navajo boxer in the independent film
"Black Cloud." The movie, shown by MSU's Native American studies
department, deals with such reservation problems as racism and
alcoholism. Yet it also gives an Indian character the chance to be
a champion in the ring.
"It's a message I hope reaches a lot of kids," Spears said.
Eddie Spears, 22, and his brother Michael Spears, 26, members of
the Lakota Sioux Lower Brule Tribe of South Dakota, talked about
being actors and trying to have a positive impact, both on the
movies and on the Indian kids they meet at schools.
"This is a great power," Michael said. "Like Spiderman said, 'With
great power comes great responsibility.'" (Bozeman Daily
Malick's Vision: Trick or Treat?
In his movie "The New World," Terrence Malick depicts a romance that
never happened. Can we excuse this invention even though Pocahontas
was only a child at the time? Is it okay if the movie presents her
affair with John Smith as a symbolic union between the Old and New Worlds?
Well, no. Suppose the romance did occur and Pocahontas was 15, like
actress Q'orianka Kilcher, not 10 or 12. It still would have been an
exploitative relationship, with an exotic and experienced soldier of
fortune seducing an innocent young maiden. Today the law would deem
it statutory rape or child molestation--not something you want to glorify.
For more on the problems with "The New World," see my review at the
end of http://www.bluecorncomics.com/newworld.htm .
Blue Corn Comics