Journal of English Teaching through Movies and Media 2009;10(2):79-99.
Published online December 30, 2009.
An analysis of subversion in Dances with Wolves
Sung sik Suh
영화 늑대와 춤을(Dances with Wolves)에 나타난 전복성 분석
서성식
Abstract
Of all movie genres, the Hollywood western has the longest history. In this kind of movie, a viewer can immediately find certain stereotypical elements and structures. For example, the backdrop is always a frontier location and there is typically a violent confrontation among gunmen near a small restaurant in a frontier town. There is always a struggle between good and evil with the good always triumphing against evil in the long run. Typically, Native American Indians are depicted as evil while the white people belong to the good. In the 1980s, however, some movies that subverted this paradigm began to be produced. One was Dances With Wolves (1990) by Kevin Costner. When we watch this movie, we can find many episodes where the director consciously intended to subvert the given paradigm. The purpose of this essay is to analyze the subversive elements that we can find in this movie. These elements are orchestrated into making us realize that the prejudice of white people against Native Indians is entirely unfounded. Moreover, it is evident that the idea of the continuing progress of white people is a kind of ideology or myth. My conclusion is that the Western genre embodies the idea of American exceptionalism and 'Manifest Destiny' but both ideas prove to be myths.
Key Words: western genre;Native Indian;Dances With Wolves;stereotype;manifest destiny;American exceptionalism;captivity narrative


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