Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Dances With Wolves (1990)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Dances With Wolves (1990)

In star/director Kevin Costner's western Best Picture winner, his directorial debut film:

  • the opening Civil War battle scene in which leg-injured Union Army Lieut. John Dunbar (Kevin Costner) made an attempted suicidal charge on horseback with his arms outstretched between opposing lines of Union and Confederate forces, and helped to defeat the Rebels - Dunbar lived triumphantly and unintentionally became a hero for the Union side
  • the scene of Dunbar's appearance at his own request at Fort Hays before mentally-ill and suicidal Major Fambrough (Maury Chaykin) to seek a transfer, and his wish to be transferred: ("I've aIways wanted to see the frontier...Before it's gone"); and the granting of the wish with written permission by the Major: ("Sir Knight. I am sending you on a knight's errand. You wiII report to Captain CargiII at the furthermost outpost of the reaIm, Fort Sedgewick. My personaI seaI wiII assure your safety through many miIes of wiId and hostiIe country"); after granting Dunbar's transfer, the Major shot himself in the head (off-screen)
  • the scene of Dunbar's first encounter with white Sioux female Stands With A Fist (Mary McDonnell), the white adopted daughter of the tribe's medicine man Kicking Bird, who was bloodied while attempting suicide with a knife because she was in mourning for her husband: (Dunbar: "You need heIp. You're hurt. Let me heIp you. You're hurt"); she reacted in panic at his offer of help
"Stands With a Fist"
(Mary McDonnell)
Buffalo Hunt
Two Socks
  • the buffalo hunting scene
  • the scene of Dunbar chasing and frolicking with a wolf named Two Socks on the open prairie (the wolf had white forepaws); he received the name 'Dances With Wolves' - the source of the film's title - for his interactions with the wolf
  • the tearful, downbeat farewell scene of his departure from his adoptive Sioux tribe with Stands With a Fist during the winter, because of the threat and danger he posed living with them; from a clifftop, Wind in His Hair (Rodney A. Grant) shouted out a friendly goodbye: ("Dances With Wolves. l am Wind ln His Hair. Do you see that l am your friend? Can you see that you will always be my friend?")
  • in the film's conclusion, a lone wolf howled from a cliff-side before a title scrolled onto the screen: "Thirteen years later, their homes destroyed, their buffalo gone, the last band for free Sioux submitted to white authority at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. The great horse culture of the plains was gone and the American frontier was soon to pass into history."

Lt. Dunbar's Heroic Suicidal Charge on Horseback

Lieut. John Dunbar
(Kevin Costner)

The Suicide of Major Fambrough
(Maury Chaykin)

Farewell Scene


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