1. Film Information: The title of film we watched this week is Older than America. The lead actors and actresses are Adam Beach, Tantoo Cardinal, Bradley Cooper Georgina Lightning, Bradley Cooper, and Tantoo Cardinal. movie was released Oct 12, 2010 by the IFC Films studio. The length of the film is about one hundred minutes. The film genre is trying to expose the history with horror atmosphere. The director of the film is Georgina Lightning . 2. Brief summary: A woman’s haunting visions reveal a Catholic priest’s sinister plot to silence Rain’s mother from speaking the truth about the atrocities that took place at her Native
American boarding school. The story along with her daughter, Rain haunted by visions that led to her own mother’s forced institutionalization. The film mixes the true story of the US’s forced boarding of Native American children, subjecting them to a wide variety of abuses. The film is not that easy to follow up because it started with some suspension and wired dreams at the beginning. As the story goes along, more and more clues reveal. It is hard to believe what the boarding school did to Native American kids based on my perception to boarding school.
The film has enough twists and turns to keep my attentions while watching it. 3. Identify the main problem(s) or issue(s) addressed in the film: The problem is mainly addressed in boarding school. They remove children from the influence of their families and culture and assimilate them into the dominant Canadian culture. Father Bartoli paralyzed Rain’s mother in order to hide the truth about atrocities in boarding school. The Native American kids were beaten, whipped, raped and killed in the school. Later on, Father Bartoli also tried to convince Auntie Apple to keep Rain in captivity in order to stop memorizing the truth from the past.
Rain was somehow rescued from tying up her hands by a spiritual guy who is her classmate in boarding school. She intellectually escaped from the room when the cleaner opened the door. Rain and Jonny decided to discover the truth in the mysterious cellar. After Father Bartoli knew Rain had escaped, he decided to go to cellar to kill her. Finally, Rain collected all the clues and memorized all the things happened in boarding school. Father Batoli was tangled up with all the lost soul who were abused and died under his hands. He got punished. 4. Main characters review: The main characters are Jonny, Rain, Luke, and Father Batoli.
Director and co-writer Lightning also plays Rain, the lead role in Older Than America. Rain lives with her police officer boyfriend Johnny (Adam Beach) in snowy, rural Minnesota. Adom Beach plays her boyfriend. Luke (Bradley Cooper) is a government geologist investigating reports of a recent earthquake on his own time; Steve Klamath (Glen Gould) has returned home to run for mayor on an anti-development platform, opposing the incumbent, developer Paul Gunderson (Chris Mulkey). I think the actors are good in these roles especially Johnny because I can feel his love to Rain. They play believable roles, but I was confused about those spiritual figures.
They are not quite believable, though. Those children in the board school make me sympathetic. There is no “Hollywood stereotypes”. 5. Portrayal of authority: Father Bartoli is a typical guy who has authority in religious figures. He is a priest minister who controls all the regulations in boarding school. Auntie Apple (Tantoo Cardinal), who raised Rain, leans heavily upon local Catholic priest Father Bartoli (Steve Yoakum). The two of them shake their heads disapprovingly when Rain and Johnny do not immediately agree to having a Catholic marriage ceremony.
The boarding school is a nightmare to Native American children. Priests tried to remove their identity and assimilated them into American culture. I dislike Father Bartoli. He did not only a lot of bad things to the Native American children but also silenced Rain and her mother to erase the past crimes. 6. Discuss the role of gender in the film: The major players are not predominantly of one sex. Johnny has the subordinate role. I think Women and men are not drawn as variations of stereotypes. Rain plays a kindergarten teacher. She is portrayed as a perceptual and strong Native American woman. She cares about her mother very much.
The matriarchal female roles are not recognized in the film. Jonny is her husband. He loves Rain very much, too. He cares about everything regarding Rain including family. He behaved anxious and crazy when Rain is disappeared. 7. Discuss the role of class and nation: I did not see any characters do anything for living. Jonny works in police office and Rain works in kindergarten. They seem pretty knowledgeable about their work, and they valued for what they do. There is no very obvious class hierarchy in the film. They are all kind of middle class people in modern society. The film did not spend a lot of attention to portray the poor. 8.
Discuss the identity of the Native/tribal/ethnic groups portrayed in the film: I did not really often hear the Native American characters mention something about their identity, but I can feel the sense of strong ethnic tie between real physical characters and those spiritual characters. The souls are the things make this film so special to us. Those souls imply some sort of spiritual culture to Native American. Although they are already died, they still got together and help their companions or ethic group to get through the obstacles.
They are likely to be seen in Native Americans’ perspective. The relationship between them is really subtle but meaningful. The live characters try to expose the truth hidden in the boarding school whereas the spiritual characters keep helping them get through the crises. They somehow interact with each other and make the whole story looks reasonable. It is pretty interesting and makes audience want to watch it. The movie really empathizes with the identity issues although the ethnic characters are not actually from the portrayed ethnic group because basically the film tells the repulsive atrocities and assimilation behind the boarding school back 1900s.
It wants to remind Native American audiences to recognize the history and do not lose the cultural identity no matter what. 9. How are social and familial relationships portrayed: Throughout the film, Native Americans always have a strong family tie and hold together. In the film, I can feel Rain really loves his mother. She takes care of her a lot even she has got some mental issues. She is also really respecting her mother because she comes to her mother and tells her mother every decision she is going to make. In modern days, she still inherits a lot of traditional Native American woman’s traits. Those spiritual figures also give us a strong background of ethnic sense.
They have a connection with Rain to keep reminding her past, and they help her to find the clues of the truth and get her through crisis. Jonny is a good and reliable boyfriend, too. He also really loves Rain. He is sharing of confidences with her and giving care to her when Rain faced up difficulties. I am able to relate to the familial roles and experiences in the film because film makes it really touch my heart. 10. Language: There are few scenes that other language other than English spoken in the film. It is used effectively.
The boy spoke Native American language when the teacher forced them to declare to be Americans in the classroom. He did not want to lose his own culture identity. The use of another language bears a lot value to the film. It exposed the atrocities in boarding school. You would be beaten to death even if you say an Indian word. It set off the inhuman behaviors they did to every Native American child in boarding school. It is ironic that person who actually behaves a savage wants to civilize Native Americans, they called “savage”. 11. Personal likes and dislikes: This movie really is not a view of life in boarding schools, per se. I don’t believe it was intended to be.
It is a metaphor for the effects still felt today by nearly all Native Americans here in the U. S. The movie “is” a period place. All of the issues that the story touches base on are those that Natives all over Indian Country are dealing with today. It is not the direct reflection of one single reason why Natives today face the afflictions of poverty, alcoholism, abuse, unemployment, illiteracy, and loss of identity as a culture, but the culmination of many. Forced attendance into an institution specifically designed to strip away everything it means to be “Indian” just so happens to be the primary area of focus in this film.
The sub-plots add depth to the characters as well as much needed comic relief. Even though this film is classified as a drama, it should be shown in every history class across the United States. 12. Research connection: The story of American Indian boarding schools needs to be told. In the past Indian children were taken from their parents, often forcibly, and put into highly- regimented schools designed to eradicate all signs of their “savagery. ” Use of Indian languages in these schools was forbidden and harshly punished.
This movie probably should have been a “period place” showing the experiences of an Indian child thrust into the soul-killing world of the boarding school. Perhaps it was feared this approach would limit the size of the audience. In any case we get a modern-day story, set in northern Minnesota, in which a boarding school is glimpsed only occasionally in brief flashbacks. Surrounding these flashbacks lie a plot cluttered with a bewildering number of elements: the arrogance of the Catholic Church, shock treatments, commercial development of sacred Indian lands, an election for mayor pitting a white man against a red man, gambling casinos, a love story, hallucinations and visions, family secrets leading to tensions.
Courtney from Study Moose
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