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"Black Cloud" Has Silver Linings

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  • Rob
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2006
      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
      Times, 3/11/05)

      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
      its own."

      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
      Thursday night.

      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
      Chronicle, 12/16/04)

      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 .

      Rob Schmidt
      Blue Corn Comics
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