When Smoke Signals Indians Analysis

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When Smoke Signals Indians’ Distress…

“The only thing more pathetic than Indians on TV is Indians watching Indians on TV” declares ironically Thomas-Builds-The-Fire, in the movie “Smoke Signals”, to condemn the Indian stereotype conveyed by media. The writer, Sherman Alexie narrates the story of Thomas and Victor, Native Americans, who go on a road-trip to retrieve the ashes of the lately deceased Arnold Joseph, Victor’s father. Leaving their natal Coeur D’Alene reservation, Victor and Thomas are stepping into the foreign world of America, in which codes and values differ from their native culture. Alexie portrays the duality of Native American culture, capturing the history of people who have been oppressed, yet attempting to forge their identity in the media-saturated world of the 20th Century, adopting panoramic shots, manipulating the circular sense of time,
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He merges past and present through seamless transitions. In the “West and West” interview, he describes these “magical cuts”, as her likes to call them, as a space where “the past, present and future are all the same” (31). These seamless transitions are achieved through framing effects that allow, for example, to feature the same character as a child, then as an adult without any visible cut. In one scene, Victor and Thomas, adults, converse in the trading post of the reservation. When Victor leaves, Thomas is shown looking after Victor. Then, the camera pulls back to reveal Victor, as a kid, standing in front of the entrance, as if he had just left the trading post. The “magic” operates when the camera frames simultaneously Victor, as a kid, and Thomas, as an adult. In the next shot, “little” Thomas comes running after “little” Victor: the transition from past to present is achieved seamlessly. This framing device illustrates how the history of Native Americans is fused with the present
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