Movies everyone should see in their lifetime

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Movies EVERYONE Should See In Their Lifetime: The Blog

Three years ago, I began, in the study hall of my middle school cafeteria, to draft a list. I titled it “Movies EVERYONE Should See In Their Lifetime.” I wanted everyone to fall in love with the movies I had, so I began to add all of my favorite movies to this small, half-a-google doc list. I started taking suggestions, and looking at today’s list, I could still tell which movies were suggested by whom. This list became somewhat of my legacy. My friends quiz me on my claims that I know quotes from “every movie on the list” (which is only somewhat true), people I’ve barely even met already know about my list, and my Instagram polls get pretty heated when I claim Ethan Hunt is way better than James Bond. The natural next step was to share it with everyone, right? Every week, I go through a different movie that managed to make a list that now strains to stay one one page. What I liked, what I didn’t, where you can watch: you have found the movie you’ve been looking for, and it won’t take you a lifetime to see it.

Dances With Wolves
Year: 1990
Genre: Western/Epic
Rating: PG-13
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

First Lieutenant John J. Dunbar (Kevin Costner) wants to die. He has had a grueling campaign fighting for the Union in the Civil War, and an even more painful leg injury. Instead of amputating it. Dunbar heads in to battle for what he thinks is the last time. However, due to his attempted suicide mission the Union wins the battle, Dunbar miraculously survives, and he receives a horse, a citation for bravery, and the option of any post in the country. Ever the adventurer, Dunbar chooses the furthest outpost in the land, Fort Sedgewick on the frontier. However, when he arrives at the fort he is alone, and with no replacements Dunbar learns to live off the land with his horse Cisco and tame wolf Two Socks. However, when the neighboring Sioux tribe makes contact, Dunbar enters a world he has never imagined, of tribal war and tradition, and of the loss of the frontier to the White Americans slowly moving west. The first western Best Picture winner since 1931, Kevin Costner’s directorial debut is widely loved by audiences and critics alike for its hard-hitting themes and incredible cinematography.

What I liked: This movie is really beautiful, and I actually have a little story to go with it. My mother studied in France in 1990, and she took her host family to see Dances With Wolves in the theater. When they left the movie, her host mom kept asking her “Le paysage, c’était vraiment comme ça? C’est toujours comme ça dans l’Ouest? Si grand, si ouvert?” – “The landscape, was it really like that? Is it still like that in the West? So big, so open?” I think that’s the influence this movie has. The sentiments are good, the criticism of the loss of the frontier to Manifest Destiny-ers is poignant, but ultimately the only thing I really remember about a movie I watched last week is that beautiful Ouest. Just the vastness of the otherworldly prairie, the expanses of sky that burst across the screen like watercolor, it truly takes your breath away.

What I didn’t like: This is a longgggg movie. Usually, making it to the genre of “epic” requires at least three hours. As audience attention spans have gotten shorter, films have followed suit, and so most of the movies we watch are within that 90-120 minute range. Is all of Dances With Wolves necessary? Could some scenes have been cut out? I’m tempted to say yes. Like I mentioned before, it’s not super memorable or action-packed. The pull is really in the acting and cinematography. But maybe it’s not that it needed that extra hour, and more that we audience members wanted that extra hour, if only for that beautiful scenery.

Conclusion: It’s hard not to love Dances With Wolves. My feelings are similar to those of my mom’s host mother. The scenery will give you actual chills, it’s so incredible. It’s hard to believe it truly exists. It speaks of a different world, and yet one that feels wonderfully familiar. That’s not to say this film makes you proud of America, because that is definitely not it. But for all of those problems: war, racism, murder, destruction; Dances With Wolves remains, to me, a movie of hope. For the good few, for the true and giving, there are beautiful things, and that beauty is set against a backdrop of rolling plains and endless sky. This film is available for free with a Hulu subscription and on Amazon Prime starting at $2.99.

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