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A Life Coach’s Film Review: A Man Called Horse

 Film has the ability to make an emotional connection and enable people to experience their own power.

At times a film can educate, motivate and inspire but most of all it can break down barriers – emotional and otherwise in ways that years of formal therapy will fail to do.

If you bring together children or adults from very different family backgrounds together an understanding can form where before culture clashes between them would also produce, and effect volatile their relationships elsewhere in their lives.


Often the influence of film on special needs and extraordinary children can be surprising. There is a report that when the Marx Brother’s film Duck Soup was shown to children classified as with the autistic spectrum the response of the children was surprising. It’s basic narrative and black and white photography allowed these children to watch a film with their peers and for the first time laugh at the same moments. There are reports of an elective mute at another school who spoke to her teacher for the first time to ask to audition for a place in a film they were making, and who has since proved to be a stand out performer.

I have always recommended that my students in the RealUGuru project form support triangles of at least three people who are watching, and discussing films much as one might do in a book reading club.



A Man Called Horse (1970)

Genre:  Western Drama

Director: Elliot Silverstein

Cast: Richard Harris, Judith Anderson, Judith Anderson, Jean Gascon, Manu TupouCorinna Tsopei, Dub Taylor, James Gammon, William Jordan, Eddie Little Sky, Lina Marín, Iron Eyes Cody


Plot: A Man Called Horse is based on the short story “A Man Called Horse” by the Western writer Dorothy M. Johnson, first published in 1950 in Collier’s magazine and again in 1968 in Johnson’s book Indian Country. Partially spoken in Sioux, the film tells the story of an English aristocrat who is captured by the Sioux people.

English aristocrat John Morgan is captured, enslaved and treated like an animal by a Native American tribe. He comes to respect his captors’ culture and gain their respect. He is aided in understanding the Sioux by another captive, Batise, the tribe’s half-breed fool, who had tried to escape and was hamstrung behind both knees.

Determining that his only chance of freedom is to gain the respect of the tribe, he overcomes his repugnance and kills two warriors from the neighboring enemy Shoshone tribe, which allows him to claim warrior status. After his victory, he proposes marriage to one of the women with the horses taken in battle as bride-price and undergoes painfulinitiation rites, taking the native name “Shunkawakan” (or “Horse”) as his Sioux name.

When one of the warriors takes a vow never to retreat in battle, Morgan’s changing perspective is shown, as he turns angrily on the uncomprehending Batise, telling him, “Five years you’ve lived here, and you’ve learned nothing about these people – all his death is to you is a means of escape.” After successfully helping to fend off an attack by the enemy tribe, he becomes a respected member of the tribe and ultimately their leader.


Running time: 114 minutes

Language: English

Color: Color

Personal Comments:  This film created some controversy concerning the issue of cultural appropriation. It was the first American Western to attempt to portray the Sioux as the protagonists and eulogize their culture, but fell short with Native American audiences because it still had leading white actors as the main characters for the film to appeal to white audiences.

The film notably treats both sides dispassionately, from the view of neither the white man nor the American Indian nations, but encompassing both cultures. However, some Native American (Indian) activists criticized the film harshly. Buffy Sainte Marie said:

“Even the so-called authentic movies like A Man Called Horse — that’s the whitest of movies I’ve ever seen.”

Vine Deloria, Jr. said: “As we learned from movies like A Man Called Horse, the more ‘accurate’ and ‘authentic’ a film is said to be, the more extravagant it is likely to be in at least some aspects of its misrepresentation of Indians.”

For the crucial Native American initiation ceremony (Vow To The Sun), wherein actor Richard Harris is hung on pins in his chest, make-up artist John Chambers created a prosthetic chest.

If you enjoyed this film you may also enjoy other films:

Dances with Wolves

Little Big Man

Pow wow Highway

The Last of The Mohicans

The New World

Bury My Heart at Wooded Knee

The Fast Runner

The Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5H0dKc9QG9E


Lewis Harrison – RealUGuru, is a writer, mentor, success and wealth coach, content-rich, motivational speaker, and an entrepreneur specializing in problem-solving and strategizing based on game thinking, applied game theory, and Game Thinking.

He is a former member of the National Board of Review, and the author of over twenty-two books published in five languages.

If you are interested in business success in life coaching, stress management or corporate chair massage you need to read Lewis’ recently published business books.

You can find books on game theory and business success here:

This course and all the offerings on www.RealUGuru.com  focus on the application of applied game thinking, gamification, decision science, positive psychology, happiness,  and visionary thinking to solve basic, complex and extreme problems. He is the creator of a course on business success and human potential.

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The film has the ability to make an emotio

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