The Revenant Film And The Native American Subtext
The Alejandro González Iñárritu film The Revenant film brings that visceral vibe he’s known for to the forefront not seen since his Amorres Perros where each character not only wants revenge but his own form of redemption.
Upon viewing The Revenant I realized it is not as much a film about vengeance, “vengeance is in the hands of the creator”, as much as it is
about the raw selfish human forces that drive people to kill to succeed committing, creating and justifying crimes that eventually force acts of vengeance. In tribal societies vengeance is sometimes a traditional social more. In tribal societies we don’t have much but what we do have is land and family so we fight for those the hallmarks of our amazing existence. What is noticeable Immediately is the somewhat openly hidden subtext of this Alejandro’s film. It explains the historical theft of everything that Native people held lovely and sacred. Our land, our people, our women, our sons, our daughters and our leaders are openly lied to and abused to the point of starvation and domination as alluded to in the “pyramid of buffalo skulls ” scene. We are misled, stolen, raped, tracked, fought, clowned, dehumanized, shamed and finally murdered in the name of commerce, business and intercontinental progress.
We Natives are merely “in the way” to be
removed and exploited in the (name of) progress.
Ironically it took a multi-million dollar budget Hollywood filmed across the world to say and address this in an American film made by a minority (Mexican) director. His vision is not atypical in that vanquished westernized version of Native plight but is one of raw observational truth meeting filmic prowess in a literal battle to be made and seen. Alejandro’s story told through Hugh Glass does use some cliche’ but not enough to make it one. More importantly The Revenant has an expediency and photographic rendering which adds to the bold great mystery that nature produces alone.
The forest becomes a dark beast and of course we Indians become “En Dios ” ( In God ) during the closing scene as living saints but purely justified in our bold but still often misread reasonings.
This film is as beautiful as it’s telling and as raw as the historical Native subtext it unfolds.
The performers ( Native and non/Native ) were believable and both hauntingly familiar. Of course Tom Hardy is the metaphor for the worst America has to offer and Leonardo’s Glass becomes the country looking for not only revenge and redirection but redemption for the sins of his own countrymen in the America WE NATIVES know. This very real subtext we tribal people have lived in now for centuries amidst cultural vultures and users.
Nevertheless for all this I give Leonardo DiCaprio our own #WhatTribeAward for being
a truly stand up guy by repping
and pointing out and respecting the struggle of everyday Native People during his acceptance speech at the Golden Globes. Not since Marlon Brando spoke on behalf of Native American mistreatment at the Academy Awards (turning down his Oscar for The Godfather) has this occurred. Though not the same in historic precedent but the both actors were high profile enough to create a possible new Native point of view ironically in a country that loves
to forget who we are, where we’re from
and just how we all violently got here.
Douglas Miles of Apache Skateboards tearing it up!
Say NO to Adam Sandler and Netflix using demeaning racism towards Apache People, Native women and men now and forever. This film and others like it must be held accountable and stopped. If you say nothing, your tribe could be next: Douglas Miles
Hey guys chill. We hardly know anything about this movie and out of the 150 background characters only four walked out. And one of the native actors specifically spoke out about it was completely overblown. It might be racist or it might be an accurate portrayal of their culture. We don’t know yet. Nothing has been released to back up either of those claims. So wait. Wait until they actually show something racist. Then you can pounce.
fleshmuncher first of all, unless you’re Apache (which you are very clearly not and prove so by referring to us as quote, “their culture”) or Native you are entirely irrelevant and need to keep your mouth shut.
My name is Lozen Tanguma Ruan and I AM Apache (Lipan Apache). Douglas Miles also clearly IS Apache (San Carlos Apache).
So now let’s just get this straight…you (an outsider) just told two Apaches to “chill” about a subject that has nothing to do with you or doesn’t even affect you (and your community) in any way. Hmm. Must be nice.
So you’re just gonna sit there and tell us actual Apaches about whether OUR OWN people/culture is being portrayed accurately or not?? You’re gonna sit there and tell us actual Apaches that naming actresses on the film “Wears No Bra” and “Beavers Breath” is an accurate portrayal of OUR culture?? Or that taping scenes where the women pee while smoking a peace pipe is an accurate portrayal of OUR culture?? Even with all that said somehow that’s not racist to you!??
Anyway, who the fuck are you to tell us not to be offended? Especially when it’s Apache people that are the ones being portrayed in the film to begin with. Who the fuck are you to tell us what is and what is not accurate about our own cultures? Who the fuck are you to tell us literally anything. You’re not even a part of this subject. Apache voices are what matter here. And you will not talk over us Apaches. Goodbye now.
“only four walked out”
Only four people on set were offended enough by the subject matter that their personal ethics became more important than earning a living in an industry that doesn’t offer many opportunities to native peoples, and certainly doesn’t respect them as human beings
So, yanno. Chill out man.
Yanno unless you’re Apache shut the fuck up already and stay in your lane. Or I’ll put you in it.
Fuck out man.
I’m so sorry, that’s not at all what I was trying to say.
I meant to be ridiculing the idea that “only” four people walked out, as if a project needs to have its entire cast quit before anyone is allowed to call it offensive. I’d thought I was being clear enough in my sarcasm, but that clearly wasn’t the case.
I truly apologize for making anyone think that I condone this movie’s racist bullshit in any way, shape, or form.
That’s actually what I thought honestly after first, till I read the “chill out man”. Since the other person before you already told me to “calm down” I took it wrongly. It’s hard to tell tone through a txt post. My apologies!
Apache artist Douglas Miles who is painting one of the 12 murals for Art For Rights on Dec 12th in New Orleans, LA, is a San Carlos Apache-Akimel O’odham painter, printmaker, muralist, and photographer from Arizona. Art For Amnesty interviewed D Miles for you.
What are the main subjects you deal with within your practice?
Native American (Apache) subject matter will always be important to me. Written history of this country seems to have omitted the battle for independence my tribes fought for. Much of my work is a reflection of the unheard and unseen reality of Apache and tribal history in America.
Are there topics you are uncomfortable dealing with in your work? If so, why?
I don’t deal with the topic of death or hopelessness enough. I would rather deal with building solutions than the problematic systematic forces that we face daily. At the same time I do not deny hard issues, but acknowledge that we need to strive to inspire, encourage and out-think oppression and its oppressors.
What are your goals as an artist? What drives you?
I hope to inspire people to know that their voice counts no matter where they are from. The art of tribal people/ people of color is probably the most powerful weapon we possess in our “survival arsenal.”
What inspired you to express your art through murals?
Graffiti art has always inspired me as a purely “tribal” art form. It speaks to various communities immediately. My murals are an extension of that graffiti and street art sensibility which turns any alley or wall into a world class museum or canvas.
Tell us about the mural you’ll be painting during Art For Rights.
The power of art, the written word, and social media can not be underestimated. Power hungry systems want to silence critics of its own brand of systemic oppression. I plan to address what this looks like in my mural.
If there was one thing you could fix in this world what would it be?
I would like to see artists of color/ tribal people have more access to be able to tell more stories via art, films, literature, and music about the beautiful tapestry of our tumultuous times. Good stories can build bridges of understanding between cultures .
I am honored to be a part of Art For Amnesty:
Write For Rights in New Orleans
The Douglas Miles X Mark Bahti Mural
In Santa Fe NM
A Prayer For The OG
Dear God please
protect the o,g.’s
through a lot,
seen a lot,
done a lot,
helped a lot,
been fought hard
won some, lost some
can’t stop won’t stop.
You Used To Call Me On My Res Phone
Apache Artist Douglas Miles talks about his art and gives advice to young artists. Special thanks to Neoglyphix: The Original All Indigenous Live Aerosol Art Exhibition. Directed by Maxie Ruan , all rights reserved Apache Skateboards Ltd.
The Apache Taxi Driver
Directed by Douglas Miles
W Kris Chee as Apache Travis Bickle
Douglas Miles at Neoglyphix 2015: Arizona State Museum, Tucson AZ
A first of its kind ground breaking show, Neoglyphix: The original all indigenous aerosol art exhibition was held on Oct. 24th. 20 artists from various tribal backgrounds came to paint. These are the photos from the piece I did and some process shots as well as visitors.
A short video is also forthcoming detailing my work here. I was honored to have been invited for the second year in a row.