November 23, 2008

Movie Sunday: Smoke Signals

A couple months ago, there was a diary written on Street Prophets that asked for examples of great movies that no one (or hardly no one) had ever seen. My choice would be a very small independent movie called Smoke Signals that was released in 1998. This is a "road movie" in which the very nerdy Thomas Builds-the-Fire is saved by Victor Joseph's father, Arnold. Arnold, however, abandons his family and moves to the Phoenix, Arizona area, where he lives until his death, ten years later. When Victor and his mother hear of Arnold's death, Thomas offers to finance Victor's trip to Phoenix as long as Thomas is able to go with him.


  • Smoke Signals was the first movie ever to be written, directed, and co-produced by a Native American.
  • In the first clip below, the car driven by the two Native American women is supposed to be only capable of driving in reverse. The actress driving the car actually learned how to drive long distances in reverse; as a result, no stunt driver was needed.

Thomas Builds-the-Fire: Hey Victor! I'm sorry 'bout your dad.

Victor Joseph: How'd you hear about it?

Thomas Builds-the-Fire: I heard it on the wind. I heard it from the birds. I felt it in the sunlight. And your mom was just in here cryin'.

How do we forgive our fathers? Maybe in a dream. Do we forgive our fathers for leaving us too often, or forever, when we were little? Maybe for scaring us with unexpected rage, or making us nervous because there never seemed to be any rage there at all? Do we forgive our fathers for marrying, or not marrying, our mothers? Or divorcing, or not divorcing, our mothers? And shall we forgive them for their excesses of warmth or coldness? Shall we forgive them for pushing, or leaning? For shutting doors or speaking through walls? For never speaking, or never being silent? Do we forgive our fathers in our age, or in theirs? Or in their deaths, saying it to them or not saying it. If we forgive our fathers, what is left?

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