Like Billy Jack (1971), who passionately hated killing but did so anyway, this is an anti-violence film that revels in violence.
Very controversial on its release, this dramatisation of the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 does not stint on the appalling carnage meted out to the Cheyenne by the US Cavalry.
A paymaster’s detachment of the US cavalry is attacked by Indians seeking gold. Two white survivors trek through the desert, on their way to more cliches.
It closely resembles Little Big Man (1970) in its tale of a white person – in this case, Candice Bergen – who is kidnapped by Cheyenne tribesmen and becomes culturally enriched rather than bigoted.
Like Arthur Penn’s critically rated film, the vilified Soldier Blue owed a lot to the hugely influential book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and is an explicit allegory of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam.
Scenes of women and children being raped and mutilated were cut by the British censor, and Ralph Nelson’s film was widely condemned for its extreme violence.
Cresta Marybelle Lee
Private Honus Gant
Isaac Q Cumber
Lieut John McNair