I watched (tried to watch) Dances with Wolves last night, falling asleep about 3 hours in or so...
That film continually amazes me. The cinematography is beautiful and the dialogue and inner and outer is so simple and beautiful. All about the connections formed between man and his environment, taking pains to put the main character in a sparse landscape devoid of the complexities of his contemporary societal madness. I found it poignant this time through how conservative (not in the right wing sense, although maybe not so unconnected) the lifestyles of both John Dunbar and the Sioux tribe are in the pure need to survive. Worth and necessity at the forefront, their movements driven by a down to earth attempt merely to live within their environment rather than exert power over it. The respect for life that Dunbar shows, even in the face of scared devastating challenge, is that which continually secures his own. It is this coupled with his open urge for discovery that seems to emphasize the importance of his writing and drawings.
Ultimately I see John Dunbar as a writer, forging his material into his landscape and gathering from it. His instinct for decision and caution, his willingness to make important choices and to stick to a set fashion of behaviour is what ensures his eventual survival. He does not bend to the will of his American peers to maintain a self-preservative crutch. It is his disregard for that which he finds despicable and his willingness to stand on the edge which gives him the integrity that I find honorable.
I do have to remain aware of the distance between any writer and his material, since the film is in effect a period piece, but it stands out so far from other notions of the American frontier that I find whether I doubt specific tendencies within the film or not, it really is a fiction piece despite anything, and the character and plot work is really what stands out, like any good non-genre genre piece. In the end, it is the attractiveness of John Dunbar's and his surrounding cast's character which makes the film what it is.
Alright, enough of my rambling contemplation...back to writing. I need to move forward on my book.