Windwalker (1980)

PG | 106 mins | Drama | 12 December 1980

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HISTORY

The following prologue appears in the opening credits: “In the winter of 1797, illness forced a band of Cheyenne to migrate south, leaving behind those who were too weak or sick to travel.”
       The following acknowledgments appear in the end credits: “Special Appreciation to: Utah Film Commission; Far Land Farms, Inc.; S Bar S Ranch; Wasatch National Forest.”
       The following statement appears in the end credits: “This film is dedicated to the memory of Michael Hurst.”
       Actor Roy J. Cohoe is credited with his middle initial in the end credits, but without in the the opening credits.
       A 2 Jul 1980 Var news item reported that the $3 million-budgeted picture experienced a layer of ash deposited in the snow-covered Uinta Mountains of northeastern Utah, courtesy of the Mount St. Helen’s volcano. Although the production was not in the path of the volcano’s first eruption, two weeks later, additional volcanic activity gave rise to the ash. The appearance of ash, covering the 12,000-foot mountains reduced glare, and called for a change in light meter readings. However, when a snowstorm covered the area with fresh snow, the ash was no longer a problem.
       Briefs in the 6 Aug 1980 HR and 27 Aug 1980 Var stated that, despite the actors’ strike that had shut down production all over the country, the movie received an exception from the Screen Actors Guild to finish its last two weeks of filming since the schedule was near completion. The previous week of 28 Jul 1980, the company had used the sound stage at Brigham Young University for interior shots. The company was expected to complete filming at the ... More Less

The following prologue appears in the opening credits: “In the winter of 1797, illness forced a band of Cheyenne to migrate south, leaving behind those who were too weak or sick to travel.”
       The following acknowledgments appear in the end credits: “Special Appreciation to: Utah Film Commission; Far Land Farms, Inc.; S Bar S Ranch; Wasatch National Forest.”
       The following statement appears in the end credits: “This film is dedicated to the memory of Michael Hurst.”
       Actor Roy J. Cohoe is credited with his middle initial in the end credits, but without in the the opening credits.
       A 2 Jul 1980 Var news item reported that the $3 million-budgeted picture experienced a layer of ash deposited in the snow-covered Uinta Mountains of northeastern Utah, courtesy of the Mount St. Helen’s volcano. Although the production was not in the path of the volcano’s first eruption, two weeks later, additional volcanic activity gave rise to the ash. The appearance of ash, covering the 12,000-foot mountains reduced glare, and called for a change in light meter readings. However, when a snowstorm covered the area with fresh snow, the ash was no longer a problem.
       Briefs in the 6 Aug 1980 HR and 27 Aug 1980 Var stated that, despite the actors’ strike that had shut down production all over the country, the movie received an exception from the Screen Actors Guild to finish its last two weeks of filming since the schedule was near completion. The previous week of 28 Jul 1980, the company had used the sound stage at Brigham Young University for interior shots. The company was expected to complete filming at the Arches National Monument in the Four Corners area of Utah.
       According to a Pacific International Enterprises, Inc. press release in AMPAS library files, the Fifth Annual American Indian Film Festival hosted by the American Indian Film Institute and held on 13 to 15 Nov 1980 in San Francisco, CA, awarded the film four American Indian Motion Picture Awards. Director Kieth Merrill was honored with The Best Director Award, Serene Hedin was presented with The Most Promising Actress Award, Ray Goldrup won Best Screenplay, and Thomas Pratt was recognized for Best Art Direction.
       A movie review in the 5 Dec 1980 DV stated that the film’s score was recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, due to an ongoing strike by Hollywood musicians.
       A 15 Dec 1980 DV article reported that Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences regulations stipulated that any film in which a language other than English was spoken was considered foreign. As such, Windwalker, a film in which several Native-American languages were spoken with corresponding sub-titles would qualify as a foreign language film. Additional AMPAS rules required that the country of origin nominate the foreign language film. Although Windwalker, qualified as a foreign language film, it had no nominating foreign country, and at press time, the Academy and Pacific International had not determined what classification the film would receive. One year later, articles in the 23 Feb 1982 LAT and DV reported that the controversy had not died down. A protest by twenty members of Indians United in front of AMPAS headquarters in Beverly Hills, CA, charged that the film was misclassified in the foreign language category. The error could be remedied by presenting the film with an honorary award for being “the most authentic Indian film ever made,” spokeswoman Dusty Iron Wing McCrea said. The Academy countered that the film was included in the list of American general releases from 1980, but had not been nominated. Also, since the creation of the foreign-language film category in 1955, honorary awards were no longer given out for those films. At a 9 Feb 1982 Board of Governors meeting to discuss candidates for individual honorary awards, no member nominated the film for consideration. Although a letter writing campaign to the Academy was undertaken in Jun 1982, McCrea claimed the situation was another instance of unfair treatment by the entertainment community toward Native Americans. McCrea announced that Indians United would picket at the 29 Mar 1982 Oscar ceremony held at the Music Center. The outcome of the dispute has not been determined.
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
5 Dec 1980
pp. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
15 Dec 1980.
---
Daily Variety
23 Feb 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Aug 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
18 Dec 1980
p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
23 Feb 1982.
---
New York Times
13 Mar 1981.
---
Variety
2 Jul 1980.
---
Variety
27 Aug 1980.
---
Variety
10 Dec 1980
p. 34.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Santa Fe International Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Addl writing
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Asst cam
2d unit cam
2d unit asst cam
Gaffer/Location
Gaffer/Stage
Best boy
Key grip
Dolly grip
Lamp op
Generator op
Grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Prop master
Prop asst
Scenic artist
Set dresser
Set dresser
Const
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Boom op
Supervisory sd eff
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Re-rec, Burbank Studios
Re-rec, Burbank Studios
Re-rec, Burbank Studios
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Tech adv
Prod coordination
Prod coordination
Casting asst
Scr supv
Scr supv
Local casting
Prod asst
Wrangler
Wolves trained and supplied by
Bears supplied by
Transportation
Transportation
Nurse
Post prod coord
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Bear stunts
Stunt horse handler
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Windwalker by Blaine M. Yorgason (Salt Lake City, 1979).
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 December 1980
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 12 December 1980
New York opening: 13 March 1981
Copyright Claimant:
Windwalker Productions a.k.a. Santa Fe International, Inc.
Copyright Date:
14 August 1981
Copyright Number:
PA113644
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex Cameras by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
106
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Languages:
Cheyenne, Crow
PCA No:
26198
SYNOPSIS

In 1797 at a Cheyenne settlement, Smiling Wolf cares for his sickly, elderly father, Windwalker. When Windwalker’s grandsons curiously peer into the teepee, Smiling Wolf orders them to comfort their grandfather. Windwalker says he is not afraid to die, and tells them stories of his youth. He remembers that he hunted buffalo, and fell in love with Tashina. When Crooked Leg, another Cheyenne warrior, proposed a trade of eight animal hides to marry Tashina, Windwalker stole horses from The Crow to upstage Crooked Leg. Tashina’s father then agreed to the marriage of his daughter to Windwalker. As man and wife, Tashina gave her new husband a medallion she crafted, and gave birth to twin sons. Later, Tashina waded into a lake to be with Windwalker, and left their infant sons resting on a blanket. Crow warriors ambushed the family, and tried to capture Tashina. Windwalker fought one warrior, who mortally wounded Tashina, while another warrior named Renegade Crow, kidnaped one twin. Windwalker chased after them, but failed to save his son. Windwalker left his remaining son with the Cheyenne tribe, and spent many years searching unsuccessfully for his stolen son. Finally, Windwalker found his lost son with Renegade Crow. At night, Windwalker started a fire in the Crow settlement as a diversion to rescue his son. Hidden in the rocks, Windwalker explained to the boy that his birthright was Cheyenne, and that he was the boy’s father. Windwalker untied his medallion and placed it around the boy’s neck. Renegade Crow then attacked Windwalker, and the men fought as they plunged into a river, and were carried by the current. When the boy rejoined the Crow ... +


In 1797 at a Cheyenne settlement, Smiling Wolf cares for his sickly, elderly father, Windwalker. When Windwalker’s grandsons curiously peer into the teepee, Smiling Wolf orders them to comfort their grandfather. Windwalker says he is not afraid to die, and tells them stories of his youth. He remembers that he hunted buffalo, and fell in love with Tashina. When Crooked Leg, another Cheyenne warrior, proposed a trade of eight animal hides to marry Tashina, Windwalker stole horses from The Crow to upstage Crooked Leg. Tashina’s father then agreed to the marriage of his daughter to Windwalker. As man and wife, Tashina gave her new husband a medallion she crafted, and gave birth to twin sons. Later, Tashina waded into a lake to be with Windwalker, and left their infant sons resting on a blanket. Crow warriors ambushed the family, and tried to capture Tashina. Windwalker fought one warrior, who mortally wounded Tashina, while another warrior named Renegade Crow, kidnaped one twin. Windwalker chased after them, but failed to save his son. Windwalker left his remaining son with the Cheyenne tribe, and spent many years searching unsuccessfully for his stolen son. Finally, Windwalker found his lost son with Renegade Crow. At night, Windwalker started a fire in the Crow settlement as a diversion to rescue his son. Hidden in the rocks, Windwalker explained to the boy that his birthright was Cheyenne, and that he was the boy’s father. Windwalker untied his medallion and placed it around the boy’s neck. Renegade Crow then attacked Windwalker, and the men fought as they plunged into a river, and were carried by the current. When the boy rejoined the Crow people, his adopted father stole the medallion. Separated from his son again, Windwalker never stopped looking for the boy. However, in the present, Windwalker tells his grandsons that he is done searching. He closes his eyes and says it is a good day to die. Later, Windwalker’s family and friends place his body on an elevated funeral pyre. After mourners leave Windwalker’s burial place, Crow warriors follow them, hoping to steal a prized white stallion and the Cheyenne women. After Smiling Wolf is attacked, he knocks a warrior unconscious, but then fights Renegade Crow. However, the first warrior regains consciousness, and wounds Smiling Wolf. Renegade Crow pursues the prized white stallion, which runs away. Meanwhile, Little Feather, Smiling Wolf’s wife, and her two sons hide in the forest. Little Feather attacks another Crow warrior with a stick, but he overpowers her. As he is about to rape her, Little Feather’s son beats the warrior, and the family escapes. As Little Feather and her sons hide Smiling Wolf, Renegade Crow sees them, but since he has captured the white horse, he spares them. As a storm brews, Windwalker awakens, and, at first, thinks he has reached the afterlife. When he realizes that he is still alive, he breaks free from his funeral pyre, then fends off a pack of wolves. As he slips on some rocks and tumbles into a cave, the wolves lose interest and disappear. Elsewhere, Little Feather and another squaw drag Smiling Wolf through the forest. When fatigue sets in, the Cheyenne boys leave to find a horse. In the forest, the band of Crow decides their mission is not complete until they capture Smiling Wolf. They release the white stallion, hoping it will lead them to the Cheyenne warrior and his family. Windwalker soon discovers a bear in the cave, and kills it. Travelling on the white horse, the squaws take shelter in a teepee they erected during their journey. Windwalker emerges from the cave with the bear hide draped around his body, but soon collapses in the snow. When he awakens, the white stallion greets him. Together, they journey to the teepee to heal Smiling Wolf much to the amazement of the women. In the morning, the Crow attack the teepee, but once they topple the structure they see the Cheyenne have fled. Meanwhile, Windwalker and the others take shelter in a cave. Outside, Windwalker shows his grandsons how to build traps in the snow, and soon they capture a Crow warrior covered in war paint, who falls from his horse. Back in the cave, Windwalker teaches his grandsons lessons about survival and fighting. Their Crow hostage awakens, and recognizes the medallion that Smiling Wolf ties around his older son’s neck. Soon, a Crow warrior finds the cave, and attacks a Cheyenne woman, who wounds him with a knife. As a second warrior approaches the cave, the grandsons lead him to a water trap, and he is drowned. Meanwhile, Windwalker hears Renegade Crow in the forest pray for victory. Inside the cave, the Crow hostage declares that he is Cheyenne. Windwalker wipes away the Crow’s face paint and removes his restraints after he recognizes an identifying scar. Windwalker speaks to God, and understands that he and his lost son were meant to reunite. The Crow hostage then walks over to his brother, Smiling Wolf, and grasps his hand. When Windwalker emerges cautiously from the cave, Renegade Crow taunts him for fighting Smiling Wolf’s battles. Windwalker asks for peace now that his twin son has been returned, but the Crow warrior will not be swayed. The stolen son appears on the white stallion, announcing he knows the truth about his heritage. While fighting, Renegade Crow rips the medallion from his adopted father’s neck, and renounces him. At night, Windwalker hands his lost son a peace pipe and leaves the cave. On the white stallion, Windwalker thanks God for allowing him to reunite his family, and then joins Tashina in the afterlife. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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