Without question, in its unedited form, SOLDIER BLUE is one of the most upsetting and violent films of all times, perhaps even THE most violent. This remains so, even though the film was released way back in 1970. And up until late 2006, you could only see an uncut version of this film via imports. Lionsgate Video, however, has rectified this.
Basically a fictional re-enactment of the infamous 1864 Sand Creek massacre in Colorado by the U.S. Cavalry on a Cheyenne Indian village and the events that lead up to it, but actually based on Theodore V. Olsen's novel "Arrow In The Sun", SOLDIER BLUE, directed by Ralph Nelson (of CHARLY and LILIES OF THE FIELD fame), stars Candice Bergen and Peter Strauss as, respectively, a Cheyenne-raised white woman and a disenfranchised U.S. Cavalry officer who have survived a savage attack by Cheyenne Indians on an Army payroll wagon train and are forced to be together to survive, even as they disagree starkly on who is right in the white man-versus-Indian conflict. Eventually, of course, they start to fall in love. This gives a story that otherwise might be interpreted as an arguably pretentious attempt to link the Cavalry's atrocities of the past to the modern Army's behavior in Vietnam a certain amount of emotional validity. But it also leaves the viewer heavily unprepared for the incredibly horrific massacre that climaxes the film.
Even today, this massacre, a sequence of unbelievably extreme violence that involves hacked body parts, rape, and infinite bloodshed, makes SOLDIER BLUE very difficult for viewers to watch. In fact, when the film was re-released in 1974, much of that bloodshed was chopped off so the film could somehow get a 'PG' rating; it is that version that American viewers have had to put up with on video until late 2006. Apart from the brutal nature of that final sequence, the film's depiction of the Army as a bunch of bloodthirsty savages does not make SOLDIER BLUE an easy film to agree with--and contrary to what a previous reviewer said, I don't think it even comes close to being a politically correct movie. It may not be a masterpiece, the way THE WILD BUNCH or SAVING PRIVATE RYAN were (and they too were incredibly ferocious in terms of violence). But it's good that SOLDIER BLUE has finally made it to DVD in its original uncut form so that people can now judge its validity in whole, regardless of its politics or, even more, its enormously graphic finale. It is a film that HAS to be seen today.
After a cavalry group is massacred by the Cheyenne, only two survivors remain: Honus, a naive private devoted to his duty, and Cresta, a young woman who had lived with the Cheyenne two years and whose sympathies lie more with them than with the US government. Together, they must try to reach the cavalry's main base camp. As they travel onward, Honus is torn between his growing affection for Cresta, and his disgust for her anti-American beliefs. They reach the cavalry campsite on the eve of an attack on a Cheyenne village, where Honus will learn which side has really been telling him the truth.
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November 30, 2018 at 04:48 PM