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Thunderheart Movie Essay Questions

Ray finds a raffle ticket in the pocket of a jacket found in Leo's car, abandoned by his killer. Matching it to its stub, he is led to Richard Yellow Hawk (Julius Drum), an ex-con now confined to a wheelchair. Ray confronts Richard and learns that the murder of Leo was set up by three FBI agents, led by Ray's partner Frank. Ray relays this information to tribal policeman Walter Crow Horse (Graham Greene). The two of them follow one of Grandpa Reaches' visions and go to Red Deer Table where they find the reason that the U.S. government is intervening in tribal affairs: it's secretly drilling for uranium, which is ultimately contaminating the water supply. They also find Maggie's body in a shallow grave. Turns out that Leo found out about the drilling, so the FBI forced Yellow Hawk to kill him. The killing was then pinned on Jimmy Looks Twice as a way of destroying the Aboriginal Rights Movement. Armed with this information, they return to Yellow Hawk's house but find him dead. Suddenly, the house is surrounded by GOONs carrying rifles. Ray and Walter make a run for it, but they are chased through the desert by GOONs in pickups, finally ending up near the stronghold where their car hits a rock. Ray and Walter try to make their way on foot, but soon there are too many GOON rifles aimed at them. Ray tells Frank what hes learned, and Frank offers him an ultimatum: "put down your gun and come with us" or "join your ancestors" (get killed). Ray puts down his gun but turns and walks away. The GOONs point their guns at his back. Suddenly, the cliffs above are lined with Indians, led by Grandpa Reaches and bearing rifles trained on the GOONs. In the final scene, Ray says goodbye to Walter, who offers him a job on the reservation should he choose to return. He then says goodbye to Grandpa Reaches and gives him his Rolex. In return, Grandpa gives Ray his peace pipe. Ray then drives to the freeway, where the credits begin rolling as we wait to see whether Ray gets on it or turns around and goes back to the reservation. His car waits at the crossroads.

MPAA Rating: R

Val Kilmer stars as an FBI man with some Sioux blood, who's sent, with partner Sam Shepard, to a reservation embroiled in a mini-civil war between pro-government natives and militant traditionalists, in order to investigate a murder.

SEX/NUDITY 0 - None.

VIOLENCE/GORE 4 - What might otherwise be a very graphic shooting is shown in silhouette, and still comes off looking rather nasty. Bullets are sprayed in a few instances, with no fatalities. A small boy is shot in the arm. Shepard's character is bitten in the hand by a badger (yes, a badger). Dead bodies are found unburied and abandoned in at least two instances.

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