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1864: The Cheyenne have just attacked a money transport and killed
pretty much everybody only to get their hands on the money (which they
need to buy weapons from white arms dealers). Only two whites have
survived the massacre, Honus (Peter Strauss), a naive soldier, and Cresta
(Candice Bergen), a woman who has lived with the Cheyenne for years and
has learned to fend for herself.
The two of them decide to head for the next fort, and much of the
screentime is spent with showing just how naive and unused to life in the
wilderness Honus is and how capable of simply surviving Cresta is in
contrast. Of course the two eventually fall in love, even though he can't
let go of his belief that all the Indians are savages while she is always
sympathetic to the Indians' cause - which makes her a traitor in his eyes.
Eventually, the two of them bump into a trader, Q.Cumber (Donald
Pleasence), who turns out to be an arms dealer the Cheyenne buy from. But
when Honus and Cresta find that out, Q.Cumber sees no other alternative
than to tie them up. Of course they manage to free themselves, and Honus
blows up his wagon full of guns - which prompts Q.Cumber to try and hunt
them down, and he even manages to shoot Honus in the leg before Cresta -
always the handy girl - finds a hide-out for the two of them. Not able to
find them, Q.Cumber eventually gives up his search.
Eventually, Cresta decides she will try to make it to the fort alone to
fetch help - but when at the fort, she learns about a plan to attack the
Cheyenne the very next day, and thus heads for the Cheyenne village to
warn them. and she is taken seriously too, since she was once the wife of
their chieftain Spotted Wolf (Jorge Rivero), who actually wants nothing
In the meantime, Honus has found a horse and has made it to the fort as
well, and when he hears about Col. Iverson's (John Anderson) plans to
attack the Cheyenne, he tries to (unsuccessfully) dissuade him from it,
all of a sudden being sympathetic to the Indians' cause (don't ask what
made him change his mind, please).
Even though chief Spotted Wolf carried a white flag and an American
flag when approaching the enemy to avoid any kind of bloodshed, the army
attacks the Cheyenne village quite brutally, indiscrimintately killing men
(including Spotted Wolf), women and children, plus doing a bit of raping on the side and ultimately setting the village on fire, all while Honus is running
through the battleground sobbing and shouting "Why ? Why ?", but
seemingly nobody cares to attack him.
In the end, both Honus and Cresta have survived the massacre, but Honus
has now become a prisoner to his own army, while Cresta has decided to
stay with what's left of the Cheyenne, and ... the end.
A post-modern, revisiionist Western that wants to come across as
oh-so-intelligent: Here most of the roles are pretty much reversed, It's
the Indians who are the good guys while the US army is a bunch of no-good
invaders, rapists and killers, and it's the female who is well-adapted to
life in the wilderness (and who swears and burps a lot) while the male
wouldn't survive a single hour on his own. Now don't get me wrong, these
are messages I can totally support - but the film tries to hammer them
home in such a relentless and at the same time superficial and clichéd manner that it
before long becomes nothing short of annoying - made all the worse by the
fact that most of the film is just Candice Bergen and Peter Strauss
walking and talking, and let's face it, both of them are not all that
great actors, and they are totally not helped by some truly blatant
dialogue. Donald Pleasence adds some colour to the proceedings, but
unfortunately his role is much too small to save much. True, there are two
well-staged massacre scenes inthe film, one at the beginning the other at
the end, but everything that happens in between is about as boring as it
is annoying ...
Not worth your time and money.