"Law & Order" creator Dick Wolf
as historical drama producer? Strange, but it mostly works with this original movie. An adaptation of Dee Alexander Brown's seminal nonfiction book, "Bury My Heart" delves into the tragic history of Native Americans in the western United States at the end of the 1800s.
The movie opens with the killing of General Custer and his army at the battle of Little Big Horn in 1876; it ends, via flashbacks, with the massacre of Sioux tribe members, after the murders of Chiefs Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, at the battle of Wounded Knee in 1890.
In between, the movie compellingly breaks down the story behind what we learn in history books: How the government's commitment to settling new territories came with a major price tag for the Native Americans who were already there. Some of the tribes dealt with the impending displacement by fighting back and some retreated altogether. Others attempted to acclimate themselves into the white man's way of life, giving up all their own customs, which were often misunderstood and ridiculed by outsiders.
"Bury My Heart" unfolds much of this "behind the scenes" drama via the personal stories of senator Henry Dawes (Aidan Quinn
), whose plans to integrate the Indians into white society ends in disaster; the fictional Charles Eastman (Adam Beach), a Sioux doctor educated at Dartmouth, married to a white schoolteacher (Anna Paquin
), and held up by Dawes as an example of why his plans would work; and the scene-stealing August Schellenberg as Lakota Chief Sitting Bull, a complicated man who resisted Dawes' efforts, but ultimately abandoned many of his own principals, too.
And what may prove to be thing most remembered by political junkies: "L&O" starand potential 2008 presidential candidateFred Thompson
portraying President Ulysses S. Grant
"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" premieres Sunday, May 27 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.
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