Phil Konstantin's Reviews of "Wind River."




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Wind River


I wrote this review in July 2003.

Well, it happened again. I wrote a long and detailed movie review, and the computer decided to stop working. Oh well...here I go again.

Today's review is of the 1998 movie Wind River. It is based on the real life story of pony express rider Nick Wilson (Blake Heron). Most of the movie is set long before Nick rode for the Pony Express, though. The movie features many familiar faces.

It starts in the 1850s. To make a long story short (as I hate to try to rewrite a long review), Shoshone Chief Washakie's (Russell Means) mother Anuba (Patricia Van Ingen) has a dream. The dream is about a white boy saving the life of her child. She interprets this to mean that a white boy will save the life of one of the Shoshone. Washakie sends Morogonai (A Martinez) and two other men out to find the white boy in Anuba's dream.

Nick is a young teenager in Grantsville, Utah. Nick is frustrated by working on his family's farm. His father is gone on an extended trip. Nick is a bit immature and continues to have problems with his mother (Karen Allen) and his slightly older brother Sylvester (Devon Gummersall). His only friend is a young Goshiute named Pantsuk (Brandon Baker). They are starting to learn each others language. Nick and Pantsuk play, work and learn together. One day in a fit of anger with his family, Nick tries to plow the field despite being told to do otherwise. The mule bolts, and Nick is dragged along in the reins. Pantsuk manages to save Nick, but Pantsuk is killed in the process. Nick is heartbroken.

The next day, Nick is alone on the woods. He meets Morogonai and the two other Shoshone. Mick is afraid the warriors will kil him and he tries to run away. Nick trips and falls and he yells out. Morogonai tells Nick that they are not there to hurt him. One of the Shoshone's call Nick, "Yagachi" (Crier). Nick recognized the name and says he is not a crier. Morogonai asks if Nick speaks Shoshone. Nick says he speaks some Goshiute, which is similar. This will help Nick to learn to speak Shoshone in the future. Morogonai tells Nick that he will give him a good horse if he will go with them back to Shoshone territory. Nick is not happy at home, but he is not sure about leaving either. Morogonai tells Nick to the wind to see what he should do. They will wait unti the next day before they leave. Nick hears the wind and he decides to go with Morogonai to Shoshone land. The next morning, he leaves without telling his family.

Eventually, the nearby settlers go looking for Nick without success. His brother will not give up searching for Nick for a long time. Nick moves in with Washakie and Anuba. They teach him the ways of the Shoshone. He learns how to hunt, and he begins to mature. Due to the constant migration of white settlers, more Indian tribes begin to move into Shoshone lands. Washakie wants to maintain good relations with the whites. Pocatello (Wes Studi) plays a Shoshone who does not like whites. He wants to fight them and to buy Nick. Morogonai and Washakie have several conflicts with Pocatello, and the Crow.

I will not give away the ending of the story, except to say that Nick survives. In fact, Wilson, Wyoming is named after him. Several of his great grandchildren are in the movie. Fort Washakie is named after Chief Washakie. You can see pictures of the area, and of the Chief grave on my website at: http://americanindian.net/2003g.html . Pocatello, Idaho was named after the person played by Wes Studi.

Wind River does have some violence, but it is not too graphic. While it is historical, it is mostly a "coming-of-age" story. I do not know exactly how correct the story or the frequent Indian langauges are. The basic story does seem to follow the local history as I know it. Washakie and most of the Shoshones are presented in a very positive light.

You can read more about Nick on these websites:
http://www.webpanda.com/white_pine_county/ethnic/shoshone.htm
http://www.xphomestation.com/nwilson.html
http://www.wyomingtalesandtrails.com/tetons.html
http://www.xphomestation.com/windriver.html .


Blake Heron .... Nick Wilson
A Martinez .... Moragoni
Russell Means .... Washakie
Wes Studi .... Pocatello
Devon Gummersall .... Sylvester
Karen Allen .... Martha (Wilson)
Patricia Van Ingen .... Anuba
Alanzo Coby .... Opening Shoshone Indian #1
Tom Shell .... Pilgrim
Payton Mackey .... Pony Express Rider
Wayne Brennan .... Elliot
Rick Lichtenhan .... Cowboy
Brandon Baker (I) .... Pantsuk




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