Smoke Signals

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Overview

This dramatic feature was written, directed, and co-produced by Native Americans. Native American writer Sherman Alexie scripted this adaptation of his 1993 short story collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. Director Chris Eyre's previous short Someone Kept Saying Powwow is incorporated into the 88-minute feature. Developed at the Sundance Lab in 1995, the film was a winner of both the Audience Award and the Filmmakers' Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. In 1976, an infant survives a ...
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Overview

This dramatic feature was written, directed, and co-produced by Native Americans. Native American writer Sherman Alexie scripted this adaptation of his 1993 short story collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. Director Chris Eyre's previous short Someone Kept Saying Powwow is incorporated into the 88-minute feature. Developed at the Sundance Lab in 1995, the film was a winner of both the Audience Award and the Filmmakers' Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. In 1976, an infant survives a fire that kills his parents. In a flash forward to the present day, the infant has grown up to become the skinny, nerdy adult Thomas Evan Adams. At Idaho's desolate Coeur d'Alene Indian reservation, the overeager youth is mostly ignored by others, including stoic athletic Victor Joseph Adam Beach, even though it was Victor's father, alcoholic Arnold Joseph Gary Farmer, who saved the infant Thomas' life in the fire. A drunken Arnold later abandoned his family, and Victor hasn't seen his father in a decade. When Victor learns of Arnold's death in Phoenix, Thomas offers to pay for the trip to Phoenix if he can accompany Victor. They make an odd couple since Victor is embarrassed by Thomas' geekiness. In Phoenix, they find that Arnold lived in a small trailer in the desert, and they meet Arnold's friend Suzy Song Irene Bedard, who provides disturbing truths about Arnold that impact on Victor.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Smoke Signals gained notoriety for being the first major release to be directed by, written by, and star Native Americans. While the film takes a look at the many factors affecting the Native American community (alcoholism, reservation life), it also addresses in pointed, but not overbearing, ways the history of the Native American onscreen. The two lead characters represent these two areas of concern. Evan Adams, in a performance that should have received deafening praise, delivers Thomas' wonderful stories ("fine examples of the oral tradition") with a joy that is infectious. This character presents a strong argument that Native Americans were born to tell stories, so why should anyone question them directing movies? Adam Beach's Victor makes the difficult emotional journey in the film. He must learn to make peace with his personal history after his estranged, alcoholic father dies. His anger and stoicism are real, but they are also the masks of a young man who has hid from himself for too long. The character arguably represents the filmmakers' attitude toward their own history. What makes Smoke Signals special is that, while addressing specific aspects of Native American life, it is so universal. Everyone must confront where they came from (both personally and as a people) at some point in life. Smoke Signals should not be praised for being a Native American movie; it should be praised for being a warm, humorous, truthful film about people.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/28/2011
  • UPC: 096009770990
  • Original Release: 1998
  • Rating:

  • Source: Miramax Echo Bridge
  • Time: 1:30:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Adam Beach Victor Joseph
Evan Adams Thomas Builds-the-Fire
Irene Bedard Suzy Song
Gary Farmer Arnold Joseph
Tantoo Cardinal Arlene Joseph
Cody Lightning Young Victor Joseph
Simon Baker Young Thomas Builds-the-Fire
Simon Baker Young Thomas Builds-the-Fire
Michelle St. John Velma
Robert Miano Burt
Molly Cheek Penny
Monique Mojica Grandma Builds-the-Fire
Elaine Miles Lucy
Michael Greyeyes Junior Polatkin
Leonard George Lester Fallsapart
John Trudell Randy Peone
Darwin Haine Boo
Tom Skerritt Police Chief
Cynthia Geary Cathy The Gymnast
Perrey Reeves Holly
Technical Credits
Chris Eyre Director, Co-producer
Sherman Alexie Co-producer, Screenwriter
Charles Armstrong Production Designer
Roger Baerwolf Associate Producer
Brian Berdan Editor
Carl Bressler Executive Producer
Brian Capener Cinematographer
Larry Estes Producer
Dawn Ferry Set Decoration/Design
Ron Leamon Costumes/Costume Designer
Coreen Mayrs Casting
Scott Rosenfelt Producer
Jonathon Saturen Art Director
Jo Shilling Asst. Director
David Skinner Executive Producer
B.C. Smith Score Composer
Randy Suhr Associate Producer
Douglas Tourtelot Sound/Sound Designer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Smoke Signals
1. House Fire [4:29]
2. Thomas and Victor [5:56]
3. Reservation Blues [6:19]
4. Hitching a Ride [4:10]
5. Cathy the Gymnast [4:39]
6. Nobody [4:50]
7. No More Drinking [6:16]
8. Respectable Thomas [5:56]
9. Arnold's Ashes [6:34]
10. The Worst Thing [5:00]
11. Memories [8:37]
12. Accident [5:52]
13. Heroes [3:55]
14. Starting Over [6:30]
15. Forgiveness [9:35]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Smoke Signals
   Play
   Chapters
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(7)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    smoke signals

    watched this in film class and liked it. this is the story of two very different people and one of the boys father who has died and they are to collect his ashes from a woman and secrets arise and the memories of a troubled childhood and a house fire that started it all. i like the flashbacks that go from adult to boy and back. adam beach who plays the main character victor did a good job and so did the actor who played thomas, he was funny and cute too. one of my favorite scenes was how he had a makeover and then right when he came to the bus he went back to his usual self and put his glasses back on. too funny especially the john wayne's teeth song. irene bedard who was the voice of pocahontas was a surprise and was pretty in this film, no wonder she was i think the model for the pocahontas character in the disney film. this is a good movie so recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Just the right mixture of reality and humor.

    Just the right mixture of reality and humor.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Signals communicate the intricate relationships between people

    Smoke signals shows our humanity and inhumanity among people. The poem at the end will blow you away! I laughed, I cried, I thought about symbolism in life and love.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Very Refreshing Change Of Pace!!!

    I first came across this movie through Irene Bedard's filmography that I looked up at the IMDB website, being curious about the actress and trying to find some other movies that I hadn't come across before nor knew about at the time. Skimming through all the great reviews on this site and IMDB, I decided to check it out. I bought a copy of the DVD from this store about a couple months back and I'm so glad I did. Another reason why I purchased it was because I wanted to see a movie with the cast being a majority of the ethnic group of people we don't get to see often enough and more broadly, and less of the same stereotypically: American Indians. I found it to be truly a breath of fresh air from some, certain movies (which are too dumb and/or negative) featuring my race (black) as the majority cast, which I grew fed up with after a while, wanting to search for more good ones with those and other ethnicities for one thing. Plus, I want to give my support to the better ones, no longer sticking with the same old, same old. For me, "Smoke Signals" was one of the best movies that I never saw when it was first released, which was over a decade ago and I just then caught up with it nearly two months ago. Anyway, one way I describe this it is it's as much of a far cry away from the Native Americans' long, old perspective as it can possibly get, that they're opposing the cowboys in the Wild West. I like how after everything Victor and Thomas have gone through on their road trip, Victor eventually comes to grips with his past relationship with his father and forgives him. And the aforementioned Irene Bedard has a great supporting role. If y'all haven't already, please don't take as long as I did to see it. It's definitely not one to be neglected nor missed. There are no disappointments here at all and is worth the watch. Great to see American Indians in a different light, I hope they'll be more films like it in the future and I wish/hope that all actors/actresses of that race will get more opportunities, success and acknowledgment
    within that time as well. Has a very good message in the end.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Absolutely original

    This is an excellent example of the other american cinema. Great! I think this movie reflects the other facet of filmmaking in America. Lovely movie.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    One of the best movies

    This really is one of the best movies ever made. And the writer, Sherman Alexis is one of the best writers ever.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    great movie

    this is the funniest movie ive seen in a while i love it i seen it at school and thought it was great

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great Movie

    Smoke Signals is a great movie, that incoporates comedy and drama. Very fun and well thoughtout.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    The Headline for My Review

    This movie wasn't a stunning masterpiece like other films I've seen, but it did make you think, which is more than a lot of other more current entertainment is capable of. I would recommend this definately. There's a lesson to be learned.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    really good movie

    this is one of the best movies ive ever seen

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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