Dustin Hoffman plays Jack Crabb, a 121-year-old survivor of Custer’s Last Stand, who narrates his long and eventful life.
The plot follows Crabb from the time when, as a 10-year-old white orphan, he is found and adopted by the Cheyenne, and is later made a brave.
We see the Cheyenne through his eyes, and it is presented as a rich and meaningful way of life. Crabb’s adopted father, tribal elder Old Lodge Skins (Chief Dan George), is a wise, all-knowing sage who is also something of a magician.
In order to play the old man, Hoffman had to suffer under a 14-piece latex mask, which took five hours a day to apply under the hot makeup lamps.
He is brilliantly convincing as the centenarian, as well as managing to look and behave like a very young man when the movie goes into flashback.
Director Arthur Penn’s film has been seen as an obvious analogy between the treatment of the Indians and the Vietnam War.
Old Lodge Skins
Chief Dan George