Soldier Blue (1970) Poster

(1970)

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7/10
Still Upsetting After Three Decades, But Now It's Uncut
virek2136 July 2001
Without question, in its unedited form, SOLDIER BLUE is one of the most upsetting and violent films of all times, perhaps even THE most violent. This remains so, even though the film was released way back in 1970. And up until late 2006, you could only see an uncut version of this film via imports. Lionsgate Video, however, has rectified this.

Basically a fictional re-enactment of the infamous 1864 Sand Creek massacre in Colorado by the U.S. Cavalry on a Cheyenne Indian village and the events that lead up to it, but actually based on Theodore V. Olsen's novel "Arrow In The Sun", SOLDIER BLUE, directed by Ralph Nelson (of CHARLY and LILIES OF THE FIELD fame), stars Candice Bergen and Peter Strauss as, respectively, a Cheyenne-raised white woman and a disenfranchised U.S. Cavalry officer who have survived a savage attack by Cheyenne Indians on an Army payroll wagon train and are forced to be together to survive, even as they disagree starkly on who is right in the white man-versus-Indian conflict. Eventually, of course, they start to fall in love. This gives a story that otherwise might be interpreted as an arguably pretentious attempt to link the Cavalry's atrocities of the past to the modern Army's behavior in Vietnam a certain amount of emotional validity. But it also leaves the viewer heavily unprepared for the incredibly horrific massacre that climaxes the film.

Even today, this massacre, a sequence of unbelievably extreme violence that involves hacked body parts, rape, and infinite bloodshed, makes SOLDIER BLUE very difficult for viewers to watch. In fact, when the film was re-released in 1974, much of that bloodshed was chopped off so the film could somehow get a 'PG' rating; it is that version that American viewers have had to put up with on video until late 2006. Apart from the brutal nature of that final sequence, the film's depiction of the Army as a bunch of bloodthirsty savages does not make SOLDIER BLUE an easy film to agree with--and contrary to what a previous reviewer said, I don't think it even comes close to being a politically correct movie. It may not be a masterpiece, the way THE WILD BUNCH or SAVING PRIVATE RYAN were (and they too were incredibly ferocious in terms of violence). But it's good that SOLDIER BLUE has finally made it to DVD in its original uncut form so that people can now judge its validity in whole, regardless of its politics or, even more, its enormously graphic finale. It is a film that HAS to be seen today.
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An ending that shows no mercy to the viewer.
drfaustus5820 August 2002
I saw "Soldier Blue" quite recently on British Television. About 2 hours before it was aired, the BBC did a program on George Armstrong Custer, which dispelled the story of a 'Last Stand' using archaeological evidence: The Seventh cavalry made a cowardly dash for it when the Indians attacked. Unfortunately(or fortunately depending on your point of view) the cavalry troopers and Custer were swarmed by Indians as they attempted to escape. Complete disorder swelled through the ranks of troopers. The last stand was more of a chaotic melee than a heroic action. Moreover the Indians were better armed, using repeating rifles whereas the Cavalry were using single shot Springfield carbines. My boyhood notion of Little Big Horn was shattered within a matter of minutes. I lost so much respect for Errol Flynn!!! But nothing, absolutely nothing could prepare me for what was to come later on that night. My watching Soldier Blue coincided with the climax of the tragedy in Soham, England. Therefore I was already upset.

The haunting opening song is a portent of a terrible tragedy. I got the feeling that something truly horrific was going to happen. It's a song that I won't forget for a long time. The film's two protaganists(Candice Bergen and Peter Strauss, a US cavalry trooper), escape from Indians who have attacked an Army wagon train(carrying amongst other things The soldiers wages). The subsequent storyline lulled me into a false sense of security. Bergen and Strauss begin to fall in love whilst deliberating about the plight of the Indians (Bergen feels they have been mistreated. She knows this. She had lived with Cheyenne Indians for 2 years. Strauss feels differently. His naivety does show...Great acting!!Well done Peter!). Actually I got very bored with this, thinking that the movie was turning into one of those slushy 'opposites attract' stories. But the introduction of Donald Pleasance as the sadistic gunrunner changed that. Strauss and Bergen are abducted by him. This point in the movie is important. I feel the tone begins to change. Those haunting lyrics returned to my head as I watched Bergen and Strauss attempting to escape from their abductor(respite is given by the sight of Candices' wonderful rear end). Strauss, being a soldier is obliged to burn the gunrunners wagon. The gunrunner has a large number of guns which he is going to sell to the Cheyenne indians. Bergen tries to stop him, but fails. The two escape and hide out in a cave. Bergen then leaves Strauss, possibly feeling that their relationship can come to nothing as she's due to marry another Soldier. She's found by cavalry scouts and brought back to their camp. Here she learns that the Cavalry troop are about to attack a Cheyenne village a few miles away. Coincidentally the village is the one she lived in for 2 years. She leaves the cavalry troop and heads straight for the village, hoping to warn them of the pending attack. This leads us to the finale. I won't describe it as I think it is beyond me. I don't think I can describe the effect it had on me either. Before this I had some idea of how the American Indians had been treated by the Europeans. The documentary on the ill fated Custer and his troop had only hinted at this type of treatment, and of course increased my capacity for cynicism.

The finale of Soldier Blue confirmed what that haunting song had hinted at. It's like nothing I've ever seen before. I was shocked beyond belief, and as an avid movie fan I have seen some shocking movies. Even the finale in "Don't Look now" comes nowhere near this. The director should be credited. He rams his point home (although some people may feel a little exploited). Forget all that nonsense about this movie referring to the My Lai atrocities in Vietnam. It's a poignant testament to human innocence(The Indians) and a disturbing testament to a successful act of genocide. Namely the systematic destruction of the native Americans.

I recommend this movie. Although it's not for everyone. The plot line rambles a bit at times. The photography is beautiful. Although some might think it typically 1960's. The acting is top notch. But it's NOT for the squeamish or faint hearted. Keep well away from this movie regardless of the fact that you bore the brunt of the opening 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan.
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10/10
Gory, ultra violent western released in USA in highly edited form as a love story.
TM-218 November 1998
As released in the UK, this movie pushed the limits of movie violence to the virtually unwatchable. People literally were sick in the theatres. I saw the movie several times in the theatres and on video. It lost none of its impact on repeated viewing. My research indicates that since the movie depicted the massacre of an Indian village, it was thought not politically correct for viewing in unedited form in the US. It does show the horror of war in a most graphic way. I have not seen anything since that is even remotely close. The highly edited US version shows the power and degree of censorship that existed in the US. To my knowledge, the movie is still not available in the US in unedited form.
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I look out and I see a land...
dbdumonteil30 October 2002
Don't miss the beginning at any cost.Or else you would not hear Buffy Sainte-Marie's eponymous anthemic song (Yes this is my country,young and growing free and flowing from sea to sea...).The version of the song as performed here features a string arrangement not present in the original version (which is to be found on BSM's "she used to wanna be a ballerina",vanguard).This song is as moving today as it was 30 years ago,and when the singer implores "can't you see there's another way to love her?" it gains an universal meaning(not only American natives or Vietnamese as it was mooted at the time for the movie)

The movie is famous for the slaughter which ends it.Terribly realistic ,it remains impressive today and may repel some viewers.There's a very strong use of the score during these scenes.But most of the movie deals with the initiatory journey of a young naive soldier,"educated " by a woman who was captured by the Indians and had to live with them for a while.Candice Bergen's performance came aside as a shock at the time because she used to play frail young maids (Robert Wise's "the sand pebbles";Claude Lelouch's "vivre pour vivre" ) before.But there's a problem:her character is not really believable;just compare her with the heroines with a similar fate in Ford's movies :"the searchers" ,1956;"two rode together",1961..They are far from Crista 's outspoken and politically aware character.Actually ,it seems that this woman is a contemporary woman,with Joan Baez's, Buffy Sainte-Marie's or Jane Fonda's mind (in the late sixties)..

For all that,"soldier blue " is worth watching and superbly uses wide screen :the landscapes match Sainte-Marie's song.Primarily an intimate movie,for most of the time there are only two people on the screen.Hence the contrast with the violent finale.
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9/10
An unforgettable variation on the theme "How the West was won".
aj_barros3 August 2000
I cannot describe the impact that this film had on me. The warmth of the relationship that slowly develops between Honus and Cresta leaves you totally unprepared for the violence of the attack on the Cheyenne village and the scene hits you like a ton of bricks. I saw this film (in Europe) with my ex-wife and none of us could speak a word until we arrived back home, some 30 minutes after the film ended. An interesting variation to "How the West was Won" that I will never forget,
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A hushed up sad chapter in the American history
DJ Inferno25 August 2001
Well, nearly the whole film tells the love story of a woman who has grown up at the Indians and an American soldier as well as their survival in the wilderness. The last 15 minutes however have the same shocking effect other controversial films like "Cannibal Holocaust" or "I spit on your grave" have got: it is shown how the US-cavalry massacres/slaughters an innocent and peaceful Indian tribe, how children get killed or even beheaded, women get raped and tortured to death, how genocide was done in the name of freedom, democracy and liberality. Extremely graphic, shocking and disturbing!!! A positive aspect of "Soldier Blue" is, that this film doesn´t deal with the typical "good Americans/bad Indians"-cliché: in this movie you won´t see a glorious hero like John Wayne riding into the sunset at the end, because "Soldier Blue" shows the darkest side of the American glory..!
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Pendulum-like revisionist take on a gruesome chapter in American history.
Poseidon-324 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Part of a wave of revisionist westerns in the late 60s and early 70s, this alternately comic and violent film takes pains to point out the evil of the white man towards Native Americans. Strauss plays a rather green cavalry private who's part of a detail escorting a payroll to a fort, along with a recently recovered captive (Bergen) who was kept as the wife of a Cheyenne chief. A surprise attack leaves everyone dead except Strauss and Bergen, who must make their way across unforgiving terrain to the fort, their differences in manner and demeanor eventually blossoming into romance. However, before they can ever make it to the fort, they run into shady Pleasance, whose sideline causes more problems for the pair. In the end, Bergen and Strauss bear witness to a horrendous massacre in which cavalry soldiers slaughter many Indian women and children in retaliation for the earlier attack. Strauss has been taken to task over the years for his hapless portrayal, but it is actually exactly what is described in the source novel "Arrow in the Sun." His character is intended to be an unseasoned failure of a soldier. Bergen also mirrors the characterization found in the novel, though her delivery leans towards the grating side. She also has little or no period detail in her performance. It's a shrill, contemporary performance with a couple of welcome tender moments. Pleasance is outfitted with some preposterous crooked teeth, though he does manage to add a little variety to what is nearly a two-character film. Rivero is heinously underutilized as the Indian chief. At least his impressive figure lends a little physical presence and power to his character. Other roles go to veteran character actors Anderson and Elcar as cavalry officers. This is also the debut of Hampton (playing an unlucky soldier), who would go on to numerous comedy supporting roles. The scenery in the film is gorgeous and the scope of it is surprisingly vast considering the company that made it. There are quite a few soldiers, Indians, tepees, horses and so on to add to the authenticity. However, the film rarely, if ever, attains a true period vibe thanks to the attempts to draw parallels between the events its story (based on fact) and the then-contemporary events taking place in Vietnam. Bergen's disregard for the era only contributes more to the situation. A title song is sung with excruciating Duracell battery vibrato by folk singer Saint-Marie. Although several sequences are interesting and arresting, it's difficult to invest a lot of feeling into a film so calculatingly one-sided and transparent (not to mention exploitive!) Viewers may also have trouble accepting the shifts in tone as the film goes from abrupt violence to romantic comedy to savage murder, rape, infanticide, dismemberment and the like. That said, there's a certain fascination with the storyline and the actors. So long as one can marry the divergent approaches to the material, it's fairly captivating viewing.
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7/10
Anti-US military Western with Peter Strauss and Candice Bergen
Wuchakk8 September 2016
Released in 1970 and directed by Ralph Nelson, "Soldier Blue" is a Western starring Peter Strauss and Candice Bergen as a soldier and Native sympathizer, the only two survivors of a cavalry group Massacred by the Cheyenne. As they travel together to get back to the soldier's unit he struggles with his affection for the woman and a revulsion for her anti-US government outlook. Then he sees the awful truth.

This controversial Western showcases the atrocities of the US Army against Native Americans wherein the average US Cavalry solder is depicted as a shifty, droop-eyed, unwashed, stupid cracker idiot with flies buzzing around his head. The opening Indian attack is set in order to align the audience's sympathies with Honus (Strauss, the 'Soldier Blue' of the title), so that the viewer travels on the same journey as him, starting by regarding the Indians as murderous barbarians, and ending up forced to confront the idea that maybe his kin are just as barbaric when the occasion is 'right' (or, should I say, wrong).

The final massacre is shocking, but hampered by the film's insistence on stacking the deck so completely in terms of depicting the US military as savages dripping with ee-vil. In other words, it loses its impact because it's so overdone.

In reality, utterly barbaric attacks applied to both uncivilized Natives and the civilized Europeans, but more so with the former, which is documented. Since the 60s-70s there has been an overemphasis on the injustices committed by the US Army or settlers and we get a handful of examples: Wounded Knee, Bear River and Sand Creek (the latter being what "Soldier Blue" is based on). Yet we never hear the other side of what caused these events nor do we hear of the atrocities of Natives committed against New Americans. For instance, we never hear of the Dakota "War" of 1862 (Santee Sioux went on the war path and murdered between 600-800 white settlers, which constituted the largest death toll inflicted upon American civilians by an enemy force until 9/11), The Ward Massacre, The Nez Perce uprising which killed dozens of settlers in Idaho and Wyoming, and the Massacre at Fort Mims. We never hear of the countless innocent settlers who were murdered by roaming bands of young "warriors": While a chief was signing a peace treaty on the tribe's behalf they were out robbing, raping and murdering.

I'm just saying that it's easy to be pro-Native sitting on the comfort of your sofa, but not so much when you and your loved ones are threatened with torture & slaughter.

The Europeans wanted the Native's land and resources while the Indians wanted the technology of the Europeans. Both sides used treaties to make peace while still trying to get what they wanted when war was too expensive. Both sides made war when they felt no other option.

I love Native American culture, but the whitewashing of Native atrocities and this revisionist history stuff is dishonest and unbalanced. "Soldier Blue" is guilty of this but, as a movie, it's entertaining and its message is necessary in light of all the movies that depict Indians as sub-human savages to be gunned down on the spot.

The film runs 114 minutes and was shot in Mexico.

GRADE: B
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7/10
Nice western film with great loads of blood and gore
ma-cortes27 April 2005
The movie talks a soldier (Peter Strauss) and a woman (Candice Bergen) abducted by Indians and now freed . Later on , they are attacked and will have to face off deal of dangers and taking on a cutthroat weapons smuggler (Donald Plesence) until a final massacre .

In this Vietnam-era Western there are noisy action , shootouts , fights , a love story , extraordinary landscapes and a big deal of gratuitous violence . The film is based on real deeds regarding ¨Sand Creek massacre¨ and there are some remembrance about Vietnam killings and hardship on racial themes by that time . The highlight of the movie , of course , is the Cheyenne massacre with lots of blood and guts , it results to be an authentic butchery and was censured , prohibited , cut , and severely trimmed in some countries . The motion picture is classified ¨R¨ for the cruel murders and isn't apt for little boys, neither squeamish . The violence of its Indian slaughters , in which seemingly every part of the bodies were slice off and blood fountained all over the screen , brought worldwide queues and much criticism in the newspapers . The picture achieved too much success , in spite of violence and crude theme and excessive final brutality . The ending confrontation amongst the cavalry and the hapless Cheyennes is breathtaking and overwhelming.

Peter Strauss interpretation as a naive and innocent ¨Soldier Blue¨ is top notch and Candice Bergen as a reckless and impulsive girl is magnificent . Robert Hauser's cinematography is excellent , the landscapes are glittering and spectacular . Roy Budd's musical score is atmospheric and imaginative . The motion picture is well directed by Ralph Nelson though he develops an extreme ¨exploitation violence¨ in the final episode . Nelson traveled around the world to defend the film , his biggest box-office hit , insisting that the violence was utterly necessary and it was sincerely meant . Rating : Good , though very criticized for gory scenes . Well Catching , 'a must see' for action-starved Indian Western buffs who will enjoy the action and strong themes .
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10/10
One of the Most Hideous Crimes of North America History
claudio_carvalho11 October 2008
While riding through the Cheyenne territory transporting a safe to Fort Reunion and protecting the white woman Cresta Marybelle Lee (Candice Bergen), who had lived in a Cheyenne village for two years and sympathize with them, the twenty-two men of the cavalry are attacked by the Indians. Only Cresta and the naive, idealistic and clumsy private Honus Gent (Peter Strauss) survive, and together they walk to Fort Reunion, where Cresta is supposed to meet her fiancé Lieutenant McNair (Bob Carraway). Along their journey, Honus protects Cresta against Kiowa Indians, destroys the shipment of a trader of weapons and falls in love for Cresta, but he does not believe in Cresta words that the Cheyenne village is peaceful. When the cavalry attacks, he witnesses the hideous massacre of five hundred peaceful Cheyenne, more than half composed of women and children, and realizes that Cresta was telling the truth.

In 1970, I was in my first year of high-school, and my classmates and I went at least three times to the movie theater to see this fictional story based on one of the most hideous crimes of North America history, the Sand Creek Massacre on 24 November 1864, in this awesome and controversial motion picture. This movie rewrote the Western genre, in a period of Vietnam War, "peace and love" and "Billy Jack", and for the first time the Indians were disclosed as human beings and owners of a land invaded by the "white men". Further, the director Ralph Nelson does not spare the savage action of the cavalry, depicting the rapes, scalps, decapitations, mutilations and shots with gore in very graphic and impressive images. In that occasion, I felt in love for gorgeous Candice Bergen and her natural beauty in the best role of her brilliant career. At least in Brazil, this movie has never been released on DVD; I own a very rare VHS in my collection, released by Globo Video distributor. Unfortunately the edition is cut (it seems that somebody has censored the movie), reducing the impact of the violent scenes, and has terrible mistakes in the subtitles written by Maria Tereza Nocera, who translate for example "private" by "sargento" (sergeant in Portuguese) among other "atrocities" like the Brazilian title. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): "Quando é Preciso Ser Homem" ("When It Is Necessary to be Man")
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3/10
Proof that you can't have your cake and eat it too.
GrandpaBunche2 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
When Sam Peckinpah's superlative THE WILD BUNCH (1969) opened the door to outrageous displays of graphic cinematic ultra-violence, it did so with a talented (if whisky-marinated) hand guiding the camera and had a compelling story with characters who had actual depth, but in no time flat there were scores of imitators that fell far from the benchmark set by Peckinpah's epic, and SOLDIER BLUE definitely falls into that category.

SOLDIER BLEW, er, BLUE tells the story of foul-mouthed New Yorker Cresta Lee (Candice Bergen) a blonde proto-hippie chick who's been "rescued" from two years of "captivity" among the Cheyenne and is now being sent to a fort where she'll be reunited with the fiancée she only wants to marry for his money. Also on board the wagon she's traveling in is a shipment of government gold, cash the Cheyenne need to buy guns with, so in short order the soldiers are wiped out and Cresta flees to the hills, accompanied by Honus Gant (Peter Strauss), the lone surviving cavalryman. Calling Gant by the snarky nickname "Soldier Blue," Cresta demonstrates that her years among the "savages" was time well spent, outstripping Gant in survival skills, common sense, and sheer balls, and over their journey toward the fort they must persevere against the elements, a band of hostile Kiowa, an unscrupulous trader — played by Donald Pleasance, here giving one of his most ridiculous performances, and that's saying something — and, in the tradition of many previous western-set romantic comedies, each other.

During the course of their misadventures the two opposites are inevitably — and predictably — attracted to each other and eventually end up getting it on — while Gant has a freshly- treated bullet wound that went clean through his leg, no less — in what was surely the only conveniently located cave for at least a twelve mile radius that wasn't filled with rattlesnakes, mountain lions, or who knows what, to say nothing of the Cheyenne, who could have done something really spiffy with such a primo apartment (there I go, thinking in NYC real estate terms again).

Realizing that their love could never flourish outside of the cave, Cresta leaves Gant and makes it to the fort by herself only to discover that the moron in charge won't spare a couple of men so they can rescue Gant; the regiment needs all available personnel to launch an attack on the nearby Cheyenne village, and once Cresta gets wind of that she slips past her obnoxiously horny hubby-to-be and makes a beeline straight to the Cheyenne to warn them of what's coming.

What happens next is what gained the film its infamy; it turns out that all the wacky misadventures and squabbling were all just a lead-in to a hideous reenactment of the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, an orgy of rape, torture and general sadistic evil perpetrated in the name of "keeping the country clean," and almost forty years after its release this sequence still disturbs and nauseates for its sheer cruelty. Children are trampled beneath the hooves of charging horses or impaled on bayonets, unarmed people are beheaded — a nice effect, I have to admit — women are stripped and pawed by gangs of slavering brutes, then raped and mutilated — in one truly sickening instance a naked native woman puts up too much of a fight, so her rapist instead decides to cut off her breasts, which we thankfully only see the start of before the camera moves on to chronicle some other hideous act — and scores of innocent people are shot and dismembered, their compone nt parts impaled on pikes and waved about in victorious celebration or kept as the most ghoulish of souvenirs. No joke, this scene would instantly garner an NC-17 rating if released today, to say nothing of possibly spurring Native American interest groups to riot in the streets over the incredibly exploitative manner in which the atrocities are depicted.

I'm all in favor of westerns that don't shy away from honest portrayals of how the west was won, or stolen if truth be told, but this film has no idea of what kind of movie it wants to be; one minute it's a heavy-handed pseudo-hippy lecture about how the treatment of the natives was totally effed up (well, DUH!), then it's a light-hearted battle of the sexes farce wherein Cresta proves herself five times the man Gant is and manages to look hot in her tasty red calico poncho (with no undies), but that all goes out the window when Donald Pleasance shows up with an unintentionally (?) hilarious pair of buck-toothed dentures and our heroes must figure out how to escape from his murderous clutches in a sub-plot that goes nowhere, all of which culminates in the aforementioned apocalyptic climax. Any one of those tacks would have been okay for a coherent film, but the end result is a slapdash mess that milked the horrors of its final ten minutes for all they were worth in the film's promotion and poster imagery.

But by trying to be all things to all audiences, SOLDIER BLUE ends up as an incoherent, preachy Mulligan stew of presumably well-intentioned political correctness, but if they were going to tell the story of the Sand Creek Massacre, wouldn't it have been a good idea to have some Indian characters who were more than just walk-ons with Murphy Brown acting as their mouthpiece? We get to know absolutely nothing of the people who get wiped out solely for what appears to be a crass ploy to lure gorehound moviegoers into seeing "the most savage film in history." If you, like me, were intrigued by the provocative ads and reviews that shower almost endless praise upon it for its "daring to tell it like it was," take my word for it and let SOLDIER BLUE slowly fade into cinematic obscurity.
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7/10
One Of The Most Bizarre Movies To Be Made By An American Studio
Theo Robertson12 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I recall sometime in the late 1970s a film called SOLDIER BLUE being broadcast on ITV . It was on past my bedtime so unfortunately I never saw it but I distinctly remember my parents discussing it the next day and how shaken they were by the amount of violence the movie used in showing a massacre against the Indians at the end . As years passed I have heard how this movie has become a cult classic and how it was an allegory on American involvement in South East Asia and being something of a fan of this type of movie I looked forward to seeing it . Unfortunately it's not a film that appears on the TV schedules and when the BBC broadcast it tonight I think this was the first time it'd been broadcast since my parents saw it nearly 30 years ago

I must confess while I was watching it I was in something of a state of shock , not so much because of the violence ( I'll come to that in a moment ) but because it's a truly bizarre movie . You can just imagine Joseph Levine scratching his chin while reading several scripts on his desk featuring different genres and deciding that he's going to make a movie featuring bits and pieces from all of them so we have

1 ) A love story between two protagonists where opposites attract

2 ) A couple hiking in the great outdoors being kidnapped by a sadistic thug and having to run for their lives

3 ) A standard western that borrows ideas from THE SEARCHERS

4 ) An ( Anti) Vietnam war movie that's the perfect antidote to THE GREEN BERETS

All of these are incorporated into SOLDIER BLUE and I'm afraid that it doesn't really work . Can you believe that if this was an unsolicited script arriving on someone's desk that it would be produced ? It's like watching clips from several movies edited together , edited together very well I might add , but still edited from other movies . Thus we see a calvary platoon massacred early into the film while the next hour is devoted to two people wandering around the wilderness not liking one another but finding themselves falling in love . These scenes are like watching a star vehicle for Rock Hudson and Doris Day if you ignore the leftist / rightist diatribes

As for the violence , it's probably as violent as the stuff Peckinpah was doing at the time with slow motion death scenes where people spurt blood , a cinematic violence that hasn't dated very well in the 21st Century since it appears clichéd . There is one slight difference and that is director Ralph Nelson doesn't shy away from showing innocent children getting shot down , even in 2005 the massacre scene still carries an impact and the impact would have been bigger still if the Indians hadn't been shown massacring a Calvary unit earlier , but I guess when discussing what was happening in 'Nam the movie wants to have its cake and eat it

It's impossible not to discuss SOLDIER BLUE without mentioning Candice Bergen as Cresta . Men of a certain age have confessed how their ideal woman would be Bergen in this movie and I can certainly see their point , it's not just Bergin's physical presence but the written character too . Obviously Cresta is a total anachronism but she's a very memorable strong woman , a sort of hippy chick fused with Emma Peel and along with the Indian massacre Cresta is what people remember most about the movie . Peter Strauss as Honus seems a bit too old for the role and the part should have gone to a younger actor while Donald Pleasence seems to have wandered in from another movie

This is a movie that I have wanted to see since I heard about it many years ago and after seeing SOLDIER BLUE I still don't know what to make of it . It's certainly a very strange film that's heavy handed and got perhaps too much to say for itself . It's like watching a Walt Disney movie spliced with an exploitation movie , in short it's one of the most bizarre movies a Hollywood studio has produced and that alone makes it worth watching
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7/10
it seems average and even glib, but then WHAM, the end is intense
secondtake14 January 2014
Soldier Blue (1970)

Make no mistake, this is no masterpiece. But it reveals a lot about movies of the period, and about attitudes toward Native Americans and the Wild West. It's not terrible, and in some ways it's so disturbing by the end it makes a rare point. If you like these themes, and can tolerate some awkward and awful social politics you'll get something from it.

The whole movie begins with the acting of television (and the director, Ralph Nelson, is mainly a television guy) but it's completely widescreen, bright color, cinema stuff, and it grows into that over time. The star is a surprise, in a way, Candice Bergen, still alive and well and acting fifty years after her debut a few years before this movie. She's known for a range of roles, from a secondary role in "Carnal Knowledge" to the defining "Murphy Brown" for t.v. She plays a tough woman, smarter and stronger than the man she is forced to go through the wilderness with after surviving an Indian attack. And she's way more contemporary than you might expect from other sources and movies of the same period.

To be sure, this is a comedy overall. This relieves it of a lot of criticism about its unrealistic tone and pace. But this comic element is layered with a brutality and frankly honest depiction of the time that is valuable. And the way it is filmed, with lots of long lens shots from a far distance zooming in on the main characters, is interesting, too. In all, it's a better film in the details than in the overall effect.

If Bergen is kind of wonderful (even if her role is anachronistic), the male lead played by Peter Strauss is strained. He tries to be charming and yet comes off goofy. Yes, this is a comedy, but he lacks some kind of depth that we need to go along with his silliness. Ultimately this is a lighthearted movie, but it also has a surprisingly serious edge which takes two angles. One is the way we see Native Americans. Bergen's open sympathy is clearly where we are meant to side, and it is pitted against the brutality and narrow-mindedness of the calvary.

The other is the military aspects, which seem to be a reflection on the U.S. military of the time, 1970—which means Vietnam. The senselessness of the killing and the blind military attitudes seem, at least on the surface, to parallel popular attitudes against American involvement in the Vietnam War. It was common at the time (as now) to use movies to speak to contemporary themes this way. Near the end, the flag is thrown to the ground in disgust and there is a long, truly brutal, and frankly disturbing battle scene.

This is not, perhaps, a deeply thought out movie, but there's more going on here than its slim reputation lets on. In a way, the light silliness of the first hour and a half makes the ending all the more horrifying and memorable. Highly disturbing to the point of almost seeming abusive. This is where the freedoms of New Hollywood are trying to still find their footing.

See this and be prepared for the last scenes, including the oddly cheerful minute or two before the epilog. Figure it out, maybe, but at least experience it openly.
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9/10
Still radical by today's standards
sacbrat196910 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie in high school and just watched it last night on Netflix streaming. A very powerful movie with one of the most violent and gruesome climaxes ever filmed (based on the 1864 Sand Creek massacre). Despite some inconsistencies (it's a work of fiction inspired by real events), this movie brings home the dark side of humanity, war and US imperialism.

So what has really changed in over 100 years? Judging from our interventions in the Middle East, not a whole lot. This is a must see movie for anyone who is on the fence about their anti-war beliefs and wanting to support a government who commits these types of atrocities with our tax dollars that they take from us through coercive means.

OK, enough of my radical, libertarian diatribe here. One suggestion. Don't eat anything while watching the last 20 minutes or so of the movie. (Is that a spoiler? I don't know but I labeled as one)
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8/10
Stop being politically correct !
euricosilvestre18 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I first saw Soldier Blue some thirty five years ago, in a cheap exploitation theatre, and i was perhaps as shocked as the makers intended. I have distinct memories of leaving the theatre with an unpleasant taste in my mouth. Here was a film that not only didn't fear the displaying of extreme graphic violence, but indeed used it to the point of being exploitative.

Perhaps some of the musical score, or the paralels with the Vietnam war are now dated, but generally it remains a powerful film that also makes you think.

It is at this point that i must diverge with the great majority of the reviews here. Sometimes it seems like i have watched an entirely different film, for the film shows bluntly and brutally that the Native Americans were also capable of massacres or gang rapes, for instance. Not that it justifies genocide, but it is true nevertheless. They are not portrayed as the noble savages, that most people now like to consider them.

Take the case of the Comanches, for instance. They came to the Southern plains from the north, and displaced and almost completely exterminated the plains Apaches. For two hundred years they raided Northern Mexico, and committed genocide over the population. The point is that seeing Native Americans merely as victims does not respect the historical truth. A film such as this one can make people see the bigger picture, and stop trying to rewrite History.
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Great anti-war movie butchered by US censors
Woland17 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I have seen this movie in Poland in '70s. It ran it is entirety including shocking final scene where brave US Cavalry massacres entire Indian village - women and children included - after village chieftain makes a peaceful gesture and tries to meet soldier wearing "medal that Great Father in Washington gave him". Violence in this movie has very few parallels - soldiers cutting women's breasts off and impaling kids on their sabers - trying to get several of them on - as a shish kebab macabre. All that was shown in Poland - communists country where there was no freedom of speech or freedom of press. Yet in a "free" United States that movie is not available except for highly edited version. What is WRONG with such picture? Why are American scared of their own history? Why do we allow a complete fairytale fabrications to pass as historical facts? If we do not LEARN from past mistakes we are doomed to endlessly ask "why do they hate us?".
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1/10
Factually incorrect
chreghan31 July 2018
This film seemed to bridge the epic cinematics of the 60's with the grit of the 70's. It was a portrayal of a stupid love interest wrapped in historical context... However, this film's dialogue is incorrect.

In the beginning scenes with Cresta and Honus (after the "socks" scene), Honus mentions that his father was killed at Little Bighorn. Cresta's reply mentions Custer. The Little Bighorn massacre happened in 1876. This film is based on events in 1864.

No one caught this?
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4/10
Tale of American Genocide Diluted by Milquetoast Love-Story
zachary-jean3 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
"No! No! Don't shoot, there's a white woman down there!" (actual line)

This is another, in a long line, of movies that gives lip-service to the plight of the Native American in their movie posters (in this case by showing them all getting butchered) but fails to actually include a single Indigenous actor or get history correct. We're told that these are Cheyenne and that this is Sand Creek, but don't start looking around for Chief Black Kettle or the Arapaho because what's more important than historical accuracy is a romantic comedy between two bumbling white people.

Was there ever a time when a young man, tied and bound and fighting for his life, spent more energy attempting to use his teeth to pull Candice Bergen's skirt back down over her bottom (twice) so that when he finally got around to untying her hands he wasn't confronted with (gasp!) naked female flesh? Peter Strauss plays said young man, Honus Gant, and the best you can say about Grant is that he's completely useless. In theory he is suppose to be in the U.S. Cavalry, but that implies some level of skill and instead we're treated with a neutered fop who, when he isn't flailing comically around in the underbrush, is making rude "girls are icky" remarks to Bergen, because it's the 70s and apparently audiences loved their leading men emasculated and chauvinistic in equal measures.

I was born in 1970, the year this movie came out, and while I know about My Lai whatever emotional impact Ralph Nelson was able to make at the time by connecting this movie with that atrocity has long been lost. Indeed, emotionally, if you actually want to know about what happened at the Sand Creek massacre, I suggest reading, "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee," by Dee Brown, which also came out the same year as this movie and puts Nelson to shame. But if you're more interested in watching Candice Bergen belch and do her "Ugh! Pale Face!" routine, then Soldier Blue is the movie for you!
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1/10
still get nightmares
hk1003614 October 2018
I was just back from Vietnam and had my first date, it was the opening of Soldier Blue, in a theater on Hollywood Blvd. and it was uncut!, the last thing I needed after being a navy corpsman (medic) with the 1st Marines was a movie about war and graphic gore. It was brutal, bloody and way over the top. Candice was one of the loveliest creatures on the planet and lured me into a false sense of security and then was hit over the head with horror! After taking a shaken girl back home I was mugged by a gang of Mexicans and found 2 blocks away wandering in the street and brought to the emergency ward for treatment and stiches. Even after that( and having my lung ripped out in Nam) Soldier Blue was the nightmare that continued in my dreams.
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10/10
How the west was really won
greene51519 December 2010
Soldier Blue chronicles the adventures of Honus (Peter Strauss) and Cresta (Candice Bergen), the only survivors of a Cheyenne Indian attack, as they journey across the wilderness of the old west in search of refuge. Donald Pleasance has a memorable but all too brief role as an eerily sleazy gun runner who encounters the pair,( witness his enormous teeth!) 'Soldier Blue' encompasses A life changing journey that reaches a tragic climax as they bare witness to the cold-blooded slaughter of the Cheyenne tribe. Reflecting the political climate of the time, Soldier Blue is uncompromising in its anti-war stance and its extremely graphic and savage depiction of the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864. It is dated albeit slightly witness the all too bright red paint like blood! but remains an incredible allegory.
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2/10
Controversy For the Sake of Box Office
KenLiversausage13 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Soldier Blue is a movie with pretensions: pretensions to be some sort of profound statement on man's inhumanity to man, on the white man's exploitation of and brutality towards indigenous peoples; a biting, unflinching and sardonic commentary on the horrors of Vietnam. Well, sorry, but it fails miserably to be any of those things. What Soldier Blue actually is is pernicious, trite, badly made, dishonest rubbish.

Another reviewer here hit the nail on the head in saying that it appears to be a hybrid of two entirely different movies. What it is basically is a lame, clichéd, poorly acted "odd couple" romance - Strauss and Bergen overcoming their prejudices about the other's lifestyle and falling in love (ah, bless) - bookended by two sickening massacres which wouldn't have been out of place in a Lucio Fulci splatter flick.

There is no excuse for the repulsive, prurient, gore-drenched climax, in which cute little native American children are variously shot, sliced, dismembered and impaled in loving and graphic close-up, and large-breasted native American women are molested, raped and strung up - no excuse, that is, except box office. (The massacre itself, whilst repulsive in its misplaced intention, is very badly staged and shot; a bunch of actors lying around with bright red paint smeared on them, intercut with a few special-effects sequences of beheading/dismemberment - dismemberments, incidentally, which utilised real amputees in their filming. Now that's what I call exploitation.)

Forget all the pap you've heard (including the ludicrous commentaries that begin and end the movie) about this being a "protest", an indictment of American brutality towards the native peoples. This film doesn't give a stuff about the plight of the Cheyenne; had it done so it would have featured some involving native American characters, would have led us to get to know and to care about the nameless, faceless innocents who get slaughtered at the climax. Instead what we get is the silly white bread romance of Bergen and Strauss (lousy actors both, in this at least), with plenty of blood, guts and severed heads thrown in to attract the curious.

Which is a terrible shame, because there is a movie to be made about the Sand Creek massacre, about all of the real life massacres the US (and Britain, and all so-called "civilised" nations) have participated in over the centuries (Iraq?). this just isn't that movie.
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10/10
Wonderful insight into America
bumsidaisy12 June 2006
Little has changed with the American way of treating those that they deem as lesser beings. The violence depicted in the film was typical of the America of the 21st century. There is still the underlying tone that America wants to rule the world just as they wanted to rule the America they took by force. The violence depicted in the final scenes of this film brings home the nature of the beast and I find in of great interest that this and other scenes that put the general image of America in a bad light have been censured in a country that is big on putting forward democracy and free speech. Why this is so can only be surmised as being a political stunt to keep the truth from the American people and this is also echoed in this day and age. The government want to appear nice and sweep away, under the carpet, the truth.
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8/10
One of the most potent anti-war films ever made!
The_Void25 March 2008
Soldier Blue is a rather odd film. It's a mixture of a war film and a western; it's a film about war, but instead of focusing on the war, we focus on just two characters and their conflicting ideologies and despite it's reputation for having a high shock value, most of it actually plays out like something you might see in one of those westerns/war flicks that gets played on TV on a Sunday afternoon. This is a well made film, but for all the conflicting elements; I'm not surprised that the film has been banished into obscurity. The film takes place during the American civil war and focuses on the war between the US Army and the native Indians. At the start of the film, we witness a US cavalry group get slaughtered by Indians, leaving only the naive private Honus and a world-weary young girl named Cresta alive. Despite their differences, the pair band together to try and reach a US fortress where they will be safe and in the process develop an understanding. We follow the two of them as they make their way through the Wild West...

Soldier Blue is actually a really clever film and packs a hell of a lot more of a punch than many other anti-war movies out there. The majority of the film focuses on the two central characters and everything feels rather light-hearted. We get to know the pair of them and watch them squabble and it's all rather fun and amusing to watch. The anti-war ideology comes through by way of the character of Cresta; an anti-American native Indian sympathiser whose beliefs are the direct opposite of the young soldier she is travelling with. She makes good points throughout, but director Ralph Nelson never shoves anything down the audience's throats; it's not until the end that the real point of the movie comes through, and while the violence is strong (this film features one of the greatest beheading sequences ever filmed!), it's point is clearly defined and the anti-war message is so much more potent than it would have been if the idea was enforced with a sledge hammer. The film is excellently produced and acted, with Candice Bergen thoroughly convincing in the lead role and getting good support from Peter Strauss; and the film also features a memorable role for the great Donald Pleasance. Overall, this is a bizarre movie but it is one that is definitely worth seeing and while the climax may be too strong for some, it's hard to deny its power. Highly recommended viewing!
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3/10
Liberal anti-war propaganda that fails miserably as entertainment.
merklekranz26 September 2009
First of all, this film can be divided into three segments. A promising opening, with the ambushing of some cavalry by the Cheyenne. This is followed by what can only be described as a long boring middle section, with the totally miscast Candice Bergen and "Soldier Blue" traveling together to reach the safety of an Army garrison. Miss Bergen spews forth inappropriate four letter words every time she opens her mouth, and looks like she just walked out of a 1970s Jack Nicholson movie. I mean she maintains zero interest, with zero believability. The third and final section involves the totally gratuitous slaughter of an Indian village. This is so obviously overdone to lay on the anti-war propaganda, that it comes across as simply long, outrageous, and contrived. Not recommended. - MERK................................ Jacobe (comment above) Here's an idea. Why don't you actually watch the movie you are commenting on, instead of chirping your liberal nonsense. This is not a political site, it is for reviewing films. - MERK
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