Smoke Signals Movie Essay

Smoke Signals Movie Essay-9
In the film we meet the character of Victor, who is played by Adam Beach.

In the film we meet the character of Victor, who is played by Adam Beach.Victor is a young man living on the reservation, whose anger over his father’s abandonment has never healed.

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It's Victor who teaches his inanely happy friend to “act like a real Indian,” and Thomas who forces Victor to confront the ghosts of his past no matter how terrible they may seem.

The cast is uniformly excellent in their roles, and Eyre's persistent use of long, trailing shots reinforces the story's elegiac tone.

That’s why the 1998 indie film Smoke Signals (directed by Chris Eyre), based on Sherman Alexie’s book The Lone Ranger & Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, is such a pleasant surprise.

It is an intimate yet sprawling movie that deals with issues of family, identity and loss that I find myself coming back to again and again over the years.

What follows, then, is less road trip than voyage of discovery, that takes the unlikely partnership from the scrubby, hardscrabble reservation to the final resting place of their only real male authority figure, and beyond.

Eyre's film, which has a screenplay by Sherman Alexie and is based on stories from his book The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, isn't nearly as wearyingly downbeat as a capsule description might make it sound.Victor’s memories of his father (Arnold) are bitter, as he remembers him as an alcoholic who fought with his mother and abandoned him and his mother when he was only a boy.On that fateful day when he left, Victor ran after the car for as long as he could.Victor continues to struggle with his lost relationship with Arnold; this struggle often manifests itself in anger and resentment, which is sometimes directed at the character of the hapless and eminently positive Thomas.Thomas reminds Victor of the night Arnold saved him from a fire that killed Thomas’s parents.Also, both show the uncooperative relationship between Victor and Thomas; for example, the rude behavior Victor displays towards Thomas for the remainder of the film and short story.The theme of family and loyalty is portrayed in a complicated manner, however becomes ultimately evident in between the falling action and conclusion.Beach plays Victor Joseph, a Couer d'Alene Indian in Idaho whose father Arnold (Farmer) quit reservation life and headed out in his prized yellow pickup truck 10 years back, when Victor was a young boy.Years before his departure, a tremendous fire swept through the house of Victor's friend Thomas Builds-the-Fire when an all-night Fourth of July party left most of the reservation – including Arnold – falling down drunk and unaware of the impending tragedy.Smoke Signals is alight with oddball nuances and wry observations: the reservation's radio station, KREZ, uses a broken-down van at the deserted crossroads to gauge the (nonexistent) traffic conditions, and Victor's mother Arlene (Cardinal) is a master in the fine art of flatbread-making.Subtle, lyrically haunting touches like these evoke a palpable sense of loss and the sub-poverty level of Native American life, but also unite the tribe – broken by alcohol and abuse though they may be – in long-held beliefs and rituals.


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