13 Things to Know about Dances With Wolves

13 Things To Know About The 1990 Best Picture Winner, ‘Dances With Wolves

Dances With Wolves dominated the Academy Awards in 1990, much to the chagrin of many who consider Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas to be a superior film. Nevertheless, Kevin Costner’s opus took home seven statues on Oscar night. Here are 13 things to know about the film…

 1. Kevin Costner’s spreading out of his arms while doing his suicide run at the start of the film was a completely spontaneous gesture that took his stunt coordinator by surprise.

2. To add realism to the movie, a language coach was brought in to teach Lakota to cast members who did not know how to speak it. Because of the difficulty in learning the language, the “gendered speech” aspects of the language were omitted from the lessons. When native speakers of Lakota saw the finished film, they found it amusing to hear Lakota warriors talking like women.

3. Because of budgetary overruns and general industry reluctance to invest in a Western, Kevin Costner was forced to dig deep into his own pockets to make up the film’s $18 million budget. As it then went on to gross over $100 million, he himself earned an estimated $40 million from his original investment.

4. Two Socks was played by two wolves. One was called Buck and the other was called Teddy, and both were kept on set at all times.

5. With the exception of the opening Civil War scenes (which were shot last), the film was shot in sequence because of the weather. They needed it to correspond with the time sequence in the film because of so much outdoor shooting. Most films are not shot in sequence.

6. In the skinned buffalo scene, Fake animals made of paper were used and looked very realistic. A passerby called the police during filming and they showed up with guns drawn ready to arrest the crew for poaching. After some explanations, the cops left laughing.

7. The buffalo herd comprised 3,500 animals, the largest herd in America, two of which were borrowed from the ranch of Neil Young.

8. The Logistics for the buffalo hunt comprised of a helicopter, 10 pick up trucks, 24 bareback Native American riders, 150 extras, 20 wranglers, 25 recreated buffalo and 7 cameras. It took 8 days to film.

9. During the scene where the buffalo is charging at the young Indian, the buffalo is actually charging at a pile of its favorite treat: Oreo cookies.

10. Tom Berenger was considered as a possibility for the role of Dunbar by the producers before Costner came on board.

11. Michael Blake initially intended the story to be a screenplay, but after working with Kevin Costner and producer Jim Wilson on an earlier film, he was convinced by them to write it as a novel first – both to ensure the story would be told completely without having to work within the bounds of a standard-length script, and also because they believed the story would be more easily sold as a novel than as a screenplay.

12. In order to best portray the middle-aged Kicking Bird with bad posture, Graham Greene put a slice of bologna in each of his shoes, feeling that the slimy sensation would bring about the awkward comportment he was trying to project.

13. Close to a million feet of film was shot in total.


Sonya Buchanan/8:30pm