Dances With Wolves
We will shoot some arrows into the white man. If he truly has medicine, he will
not be hurt. If he has no medicine, he will be dead.
The film opens during an US Civil War. Union Army Officer Lietenant John J. Dunbar learns that his injured leg is to be amputated. Seeing the plight of fellow soldiers with amputated legs, Dunbar attempts suicide by riding a horse across the line of fire between the opposing Union and Confederate positions. His action has the unexpected effect of rallying his comrades, who storm the Confederate positions.
After the ensuing battle, an experienced General's surgeon saves Dunbar's leg. The commanding officer names Dunbar a hero, awards him Cisco, the horse who carried him in battle, and offers Dunbar his choice of posting. Dunbar requests a transfer to the western frontier. After meeting with a major who has slipped into delusions of grandeur (apparently believing he is a king and Dunbar a medieval knight), he is paired with a drayage teamster named Timmons, who conveys Dunbar to his post. After their departure, Dunbar is unaware the now insane major committed suicide with a pistol.
After a scenic journey, Dunbar and Timmons arrive with fresh supplies at the desolate Fort Sedgewick, finding it deserted except for a lone wolf that Dunbar befriends and dubs Two Socks from the coloring of its front legs. Dunbar, while waiting for reinforcements to arrive, sets in order the deserted post. Meanwhile, the teamster Timmons, while returning to their point of departure, is ambushed by Pawnee Indians and scalped. Timmons' death and the suicide of the major who sent them there prevents Union officers from knowing of Dunbar's assignment to the post, effectively isolating Dunbar. Dunbar remains unaware of the full situation and its implications. He notes in his journal how strange it is that no more soldiers join him at the post.
Dunbar finds himself drawn to the lifestyle and customs of his Indian neighbors. He becomes a hero among the Sioux and is accepted as an honorary member of the tribe after he helps the Sioux locate a migrating herd of buffalo, which they depend upon as a source of food, material, and clothing. Dunbar further helps defend the settlement against a Pawnee raiding party, providing the Sioux warriors with surplus rifles and ammo from the fort. He eventually is accepted as a full member of the tribe, and is named Shu-mani-tu-tonka Ob' Wa-chi (the eponymous "Dances with Wolves"), after the scouts witnessed him frolicking with Two Socks, the wolf that follows Dunbar. He marries Stands With A Fist and spends more time communing with the tribe than manning his post at Fort Sedgwick.
Dunbar's idilic lifestyle ends when he tells Kicking Bird that white men will continue to invade their land in 'numbers like the stars'. They tell Chief Ten Bears, who decides it is time to move the village to its winter camp.
As the packing finishes, Dunbar realizes that his journal, left behind at the deserted fort, is a blueprint for finding the Sioux, revealing that he knows far too much about their ways. He returns to retrieve it, but finds Fort Sedgwick is re-occupied by reinforcing Army troops, who shoot Cisco and arrest and beat Dunbar as a deserter.
In an interrogation, Dunbar explains to Lt. Elgin (whom Dunbar met earlier in Maj. Fambrough's office) that he had a journal with orders about his posting to Fort Sedgwick. Elgin asks one of the soldiers that first arrived at the fort, Spivey, if there was a journal, but the man lies that he hasn't seen it. In actuality, Spivey carries the journal in his pocket. Afterwards, Army officers and troops escort Dunbar from Sedgwick to Fort Hayes where he is to be hanged. They happen upon Two Socks and the soldiers start taking pot shots at him, which Dunbar tries to prevent. The soldiers kill the wolf who won't leave because he is faithful to Dunbar.
Soon after, Wind In His Hair and other warriors from the tribe attack the column of men, rescuing Dunbar. Smiles A Lot retrieves Dunbar's journal floating in a stream. After returning to the winter camp, Dunbar realizes that as a deserter and fugitive, he will continue to draw the unwelcome attention of the Army and endanger the welfare of the tribe if he stays with the Sioux. Under the protests of his Sioux friends, Dunbar decides that he must leave the tribe. His wife accompanies him.
As Dances With Wolves Dunbar and Stands With A Fist leave the camp, Wind In His Hair cries out that Dances with Wolves will always be his friend. Shortly, a column of cavalry and Pawnee army scouts arrive to find their former camp site empty.
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