“Hostiles” is a Western drama film directed by Scott Cooper and released in 2017. The movie is set in 1892 and follows Captain Joseph J. Blocker (played by Christian Bale), a legendary Army captain, who is ordered to escort a Cheyenne war chief, Yellow Hawk (played by Wes Studi), and his family back to their tribal lands in Montana. The movie also features an outstanding cast, including Rosamund Pike, Ben Foster, Jesse Plemons, Adam Beach, and Q’orianka Kilcher. The film received critical acclaim for its powerful performances, breathtaking visuals, and compelling storyline.
In this review, I will analyze the different aspects of the movie, including its plot, historical context, characters, themes, and personal opinions. I will also compare “Hostiles” with three similar films, analyze its impact on the industry and society, and provide ten popular quotes and creative facts about the film. Finally, I will rate the movie on a 1–5-star scale and discuss any lessons learned.
Overview of the Plot and Historical Context
The movie is set in 1892, a time when the U.S. government was forcing Native American tribes to move onto reservations. Captain Joseph J. Blocker, a veteran of the Indian Wars, is given the task of escorting Cheyenne war chief Yellow Hawk and his family back to their tribal lands in Montana. Blocker is initially reluctant to take on the mission because he has a deep-seated hatred for Native Americans. However, he is forced to comply with his orders or face a court-martial.
Blocker’s team is made up of a group of soldiers, including Thomas Metz (played by Rory Cochrane), who suffers from PTSD after his experiences fighting Native Americans, and Corporal Woodson (played by Jonathan Majors), a Buffalo Soldier who is the only African American in the group. Along the way, they come across Rosalie Quaid (played by Rosamund Pike), a traumatized woman whose family was killed by a group of Comanche raiders. She joins Blocker’s team and is determined to bury her husband and children in their family plot in Montana.
The journey is long and arduous, and they face many challenges along the way. They come across hostile tribes, face harsh weather conditions, and suffer from limited supplies. However, as they travel together, they begin to understand and respect each other, and their prejudices start to fade away. The group learns valuable lessons about compassion, forgiveness, and the true meaning of justice.
The movie’s historical context is an accurate portrayal of the tensions between Native American tribes and the U.S. government at the time. The Indian Wars, which spanned from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, were a series of conflicts between the U.S. government and various Native American tribes. The government’s aim was to force Native Americans onto reservations and take their land, which resulted in the displacement of many tribes and the loss of thousands of lives.
Real-Life Events and Figures Portrayed in the Movie
Although the characters in “Hostiles” are fictional, the movie does feature several historical figures, events, and references. For example, the movie mentions the Wounded Knee Massacre, which was a real-life event that occurred in 1890, where U.S. soldiers killed over 250 Lakota Sioux men, women, and children. The movie also refers to the Ghost Dance movement, a spiritual movement that was popular among Native American tribes in the late 1800s.
The character of Yellow Hawk is based on several historical figures, including Chief Dull Knife and Chief Little Wolf, who were Cheyenne war chiefs that fought against the U.S. government’s attempts
to remove their people from their ancestral lands. Wes Studi, who played Yellow Hawk, is a Native American actor known for his roles in several iconic Western movies, including “Dances with Wolves” and “The Last of the Mohicans.”
The character of Thomas Metz is based on the real-life experiences of many soldiers who fought in the Indian Wars and suffered from PTSD. The Buffalo Soldiers, who were African American soldiers, are also featured in the movie. The term “Buffalo Soldier” was used to describe African American soldiers who served in the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars, and they played a significant role in the history of the American West.
Budget, Earnings, and Awards
“Hostiles” had a budget of around $40 million and grossed over $36 million at the box office. The movie received critical acclaim and was nominated for several awards, including Best Original Score at the Academy Awards and Best Picture at the Critics’ Choice Awards. The movie also won the award for Best Supporting Actor (for Studi) at the National Film & TV Awards.
Themes and Comparisons with Similar Films
“Hostiles” explores several themes that are common in Western movies, such as revenge, justice, and redemption. However, the movie also delves into more complex themes, such as the impact of war on individuals and society, the legacy of colonialism, and the role of empathy in healing.
One movie that shares similar themes with “Hostiles” is “Dances with Wolves” (1990), which also explores the relationships between Native Americans and white settlers in the American West. Both movies address the issue of cultural misunderstanding and prejudice and highlight the importance of mutual respect and understanding.
Another movie that shares some similarities with “Hostiles” is “The Searchers” (1956), which also features a journey through the American West and explores the themes of revenge, violence, and redemption. However, “The Searchers” has been criticized for its racist portrayal of Native Americans, which contrasts with “Hostiles,” which offers a more nuanced and respectful depiction of Native American cultures.
Finally, “Unforgiven” (1992) is another Western movie that deals with the themes of violence and redemption. However, “Unforgiven” is more of a traditional Western movie, with a focus on gunfights and action scenes, while “Hostiles” is more of a character-driven drama that explores the psychological impact of violence on individuals.
Performances and Impact on the Industry and Society
The performances in “Hostiles” are exceptional, with Christian Bale delivering a powerful and nuanced portrayal of Captain Blocker. Rosamund Pike is also outstanding as Rosalie Quaid, and Wes Studi brings depth and gravitas to the role of Yellow Hawk. The supporting cast, including Ben Foster, Jesse Plemons, and Adam Beach, also deliver strong performances.
The movie’s impact on the industry and society is significant, as it offers a more nuanced and respectful portrayal of Native American cultures than many previous Western movies. The movie also highlights the psychological toll of violence and war on individuals, which is an important theme that is often overlooked in traditional Western movies.
Historical Accuracies and Inaccuracies
The movie is generally accurate in its portrayal of the tensions between Native American tribes and the U.S. government during the late 1800s. However, there are some historical inaccuracies, such as the portrayal of the Comanche tribe as violent and savage. The Comanche were actually a complex society with a rich culture and history, and they were known for their horsemanship and military prowess.
Soundtrack and Atmosphere
The movie’s soundtrack, composed by Max Richter, is haunting and evocative, adding to the movie’s emotional depth and atmosphere. The cinematography, by Masanobu Takayanagi, is also impressive, with stunning landscapes and breathtaking vistas that capture the beauty and harshness of the American West.
Personal Opinions, Favorite Moments, and Controversies
“Hostiles” is a powerful and thought-provoking movie that offers a nuanced and respectful portrayal of Native American cultures. The performances are outstanding, and the cinematography and soundtrack contribute to the movie’s emotional depth and atmosphere. One of the standout moments in the movie is when Captain Blocker and Yellow Hawk share a moment of mutual understanding and respect, which is a powerful reminder of the importance of empathy and compassion.
One controversy surrounding the movie is its depiction of violence, which some viewers may find disturbing. The movie does not shy away from the brutal realities of the time and the impact of violence on individuals and society, which may be difficult for some viewers to watch.
10 Popular Quotes from “Hostiles”
- “Understand this: When we lay our heads down out here, we’re all prisoners.” – Captain Blocker
- “You can’t have understanding without humanity.” – Yellow Hawk
- “You’re asking me to help you bury the past. We ain’t got no future.” – Rosalie Quaid
- “I’ve killed everything that’s walked or crawled. If you do it enough, you get used to it.” – Captain Blocker
- “I never got used to it.” – Thomas Metz
- “We’re all guilty of something.” – Corporal Woodson
- “There’s a war coming.” – Colonel Abraham Biggs
- “The only thing that’s gonna save you is your belief in something.” – Yellow Hawk
- “Sometimes life only allows for the unthinkable.” – Rosalie Quaid
- “Hate will never be erased. It’s just hidden away, waiting for the right moment to strike.” – Captain Blocker
10 Creative Facts About “Hostiles”
- The movie was inspired by the story of Army Captain Silas Soule, who refused to participate in the Sand Creek Massacre, a brutal attack on a peaceful Cheyenne village in 1864.
- Christian Bale lost over 60 pounds to play the role of an emaciated prisoner in the movie “The Machinist” (2004), but had to gain weight and muscle for the role of Captain Blocker in “Hostiles.”
- The movie was shot on location in New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona, with many scenes filmed in remote and rugged locations.
- Wes Studi, who played Yellow Hawk, is a Vietnam War veteran and a Cherokee actor known for his roles in several iconic Western movies, including “Dances with Wolves” and “The Last of the Mohicans.”
- The movie’s soundtrack features a haunting rendition of the hymn “How Great Thou Art,” sung by Norwegian singer Ane Brun.
- Rosamund Pike was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for her role in the movie, and she received critical acclaim for her powerful and emotional performance.
- The movie’s poster features a stunning image of Christian Bale’s face in close-up, with a stormy sky and rugged landscape in the background.
- The movie was a passion project for director Scott Cooper, who spent over a decade working on the script and gathering funding for the movie.
- The movie’s title, “Hostiles,” refers to the term used by the U.S. government to describe Native American tribes who resisted their attempts to remove them from their ancestral lands.
- The movie was released in the same year as another critically acclaimed Western movie, “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” which also explored the themes of violence, justice, and redemption in the American West.
“Hostiles” is a powerful and thought-provoking movie that offers a nuanced and respectful portrayal of Native American cultures. The performances are outstanding, and the cinematography and soundtrack contribute to the movie’s emotional depth and atmosphere. The movie explores complex themes, such as the impact of war on individuals and society, the legacy of colonialism, and the role of empathy in healing.
The movie’s historical context is an accurate portrayal of the tensions between Native American tribes and the U.S. government at the time. While the movie features some historical inaccuracies, it still offers a nuanced and respectful portrayal of Native American cultures that contrasts with the stereotypical and racist depictions found in many previous Western movies.
“Hostiles” has had a significant impact on the industry and society, as it offers a more nuanced and respectful portrayal of Native American cultures than many previous Western movies. The movie also highlights the psychological toll of violence and war on individuals, which is an important theme that is often overlooked in traditional Western movies.
In conclusion, “Hostiles” is a powerful and compelling movie that is well worth watching for fans of Western movies and anyone interested in exploring the complex history of the American West. I rate this movie 4.5 out of 5 stars, and I believe that it offers important lessons about empathy, compassion, and the true meaning of justice.
One lesson that can be learned from “Hostiles” is the importance of understanding and respect for different cultures and perspectives. The movie shows that even individuals with deep-seated prejudices can learn to empathize with others and see the world from a different point of view.
Another lesson is the impact of violence and war on individuals and society. The movie highlights the psychological toll of violence and trauma on individuals, particularly soldiers who have been involved in wars and conflicts. It also shows how violence can perpetuate a cycle of hatred and revenge, which ultimately harms everyone involved.
Overall, “Hostiles” is a movie that deserves to be watched and discussed, as it offers a fresh and nuanced perspective on the history of the American West and the relationship between Native American tribes and white settlers. The movie’s outstanding performances, breathtaking visuals, and powerful storyline make it a must-watch for fans of Western movies and anyone interested in exploring complex themes such as empathy, justice, and redemption.