Dances with Wolves

Question: Why did Dunbar's superior kill himself as Dunbar was being taken to his new post?

Chosen answer: He was mentaly disturbed and was depressed about being assigned to a "dead end" post with no chance at advancement. Dunbar, the hero, choosing to be assigned to the frontier, just pushed the poor soul over the edge.

Mark English

Question: When the General enquires if the Confederates are Tucker's men, his adjutant answers "yes, we discovered them that morning." He states that Tucker's men have been there 2 days. How would he know that?

Chosen answer: They were likely searching for Tucker's men for two days, and finally stumbled across their location.

Jason Hoffman

Question: Maybe I just missed something, but what's going on with Dunbar's military superior that he meets at the fort out west? He seems to think he's a king or something, referring to the frontier as the "realm" and Dunbar's travel companion as a "peasant." At the end of the scene he salutes Dunbar very sarcastically and then shoots himself. What does any of that have to do with the story?

Krista

Chosen answer: It shows that the officer was mentally disturbed, and he was the only one in the fort who knew about Dunbar's assignment. It sets the story up so that Dunbar could live with the Indians without the Army interfering with his life (No one expected any communications to or from Dunbar).

Twotall

Question: When did the moustache get shaved off in the movie and why?

Chosen answer: He shaved it as he began spending more time with the Lakota. Native American tribes rarely accepted facial hair. As you can see, none of the other Lakota men have any. He also grew his hair longer as an abandonment of his military lifestyle.

Question: During the buffalo hunt, Smiles A Lot's horse falls over, causing him to fall off. But I can never figure out why the horse falls to begin with. He's standing still, and there are no buffalo nearby to spook him. Even if he were spooked by something unseen, how would that cause him to fall over, rather than just bolt?

Krista

Chosen answer: The buffalo that later charges Smiles A Lot comes up and butts into the side of his horse, knocking it over. It can't clearly be seen because of the way the shots change, but that's what happens.

Question: Towards the end after they kill the wolf and the last soldier finds Smiles A Lot, the Indian kid with horses, who kills that soldier with the hatchet?

Sandra Cole

Chosen answer: Smiles A Lot does.

Question: Neither Dunbar nor the non-commissioned officer he talks to just before he makes his suicide run at the beginning of the film appear to have to trouser stripe common to officers and non-commissioned officers. Shouldn't they as part of the Union uniform of the era?

Chosen answer: There were variations of the stripes depending on which branch of the Army a soldier was in. The trousers were sky blue and NCOs had a dark blue (infantry), red (artillery) or yellow (cavalry) stripe down the leg. Junior officers which included corporals, had a French blue stripe. Senior officers wore navy blue trousers with a black or gold stripe.

raywest Premium member

Question: I was wondering how the buffalo hunt was actually done. Were the buffalo actually shot (for meat or to cull the herd) or was there some computer graphics involved (I can see a truck running along side next to the cameraman with a tranquilizer gun to make the animal fall)?

Answer: While the fallen buffalo were furry dummies on wires (there were only a couple, filmed from several different angles), the buffalo stampede was real. A private herd of 3,500 buffalo in South Dakota was prompted to stampede five times, as seven cameras captured the action over eight days of filming. The illusion of arrows piercing the animals' sides was accomplished with simple special effects (including arrow shafts attached to body straps). The massive bull charging the little boy was a docile animal that was tempted with Oreo cookies. No animals were injured or traumatized in filming the scene; in fact, the only near-injury occurred when Kevin Costner himself (who did his own stunt riding) fell off his horse during the shoot. Https://ew.com/article/1991/03/08/filming-dances-wolves-stampede/.

Charles Austin Miller

Answer: I did a little Internet research. It does not appear that any bison were killed for the hunting scene. Dummy bison were mounted on moving dollies and yanked off by attached straps to look like they'd fallen. Two live domesticated bison were used for certain shots. I can remember watching one of those, "Making of..." TV documentaries on this movie. They showed realistic-looking bison dummies lying on the ground and compressed air being used to simulate the "wounded" animals' breathing. A tranquilizer gun could not have been used on live bison for this purpose. It's a misconception that animals immediately fall unconscious when darted because it takes time for the drugs to have an effect. Films in the past have actually killed animals for films, but they were often ones selected to cull a herd.

raywest Premium member

Revealing mistake: In the extended version of the film during the buffalo hunt, there is a shot of a buffalo making a turn and in the distant horizon, you can briefly see a modern radio tower on top of a hill.

manthabeat Premium member
More mistakes in Dances with Wolves

John Dunbar: The strangeness of this life cannot be measured: in trying to produce my own death, I was elevated to the status of a living hero.

More quotes from Dances with Wolves

Trivia: The wolf in the film was played by two different wolves. Neither knew how to howl, so a third wolf had to be brought in for the howling scene.

More trivia for Dances with Wolves

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