SCOTT COOPER — HOSTILES — 2017
A part of me dies with this film. I have been nourished on the final solution of the “Indian question” in the USA: genocide and then deportation with compulsory Americanization for the children sent to normal American schools. Happy those who could go to some black school or academy. Most others were purely WASPed into total deculturation.
We are finally coming out of it, at least mentally and we learn to look back at the horror of the end of the 19th century when the federal government cleaned up the plate and the table at the end of the wars. Still some skirmishes with some die-hard Indian tribes. They accepted to die for sure since they refused deportation but they did not die alone. The whites were not better: racist killers in the name of the law, blunt and blind murderers who did not care who they killed provided they were killed in the name of the eradication of the savages, the wild beasts, the Indians in one word and they were at least as gross and insolent and inhumane as that, probably and often more.
I will not tell the story. It has to be experienced the way it comes on the screen. I will only say this film is bringing the idea of a possible renascence and reconciliation, what the Catholic church has been doing for nearly fifty years now. And it was made official and solemn in 1991: “A Time for Remembering, Reconciling, and Recommitting Ourselves as a People Statement of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops on Native Americans November 1991.” Since then a lot of progress has been made. Some Protestant churches have followed. The Canadians went even further.
In 2018 two Native Americans were elected to the House of Representatives: “In Kansas, Democrat Sharice Davids became one of the first Native American women elected to the United States legislature; New Mexico’s Deb Haaland became the other.” (https://www.vox.com/2018/11/7/18072658/midterm-election-results-historic-wins-muslim-native-american-women).
The main lesson is to understand that the only solution is empathy, is to feel the other in you and have the other feel you in themselves. The film says that we should not look back and we could disagree: we must not look back in nostalgia, regret, remorse or revenge, but we have to look back at the past and remember but with the objective of reconciling with the other side. No one can make up for the atrocities that were committed on both sides, even if on one side they defended their own land and ion the other side they appropriated Indian land for a symbolical penny, at times not even a farthing. But how can we step over this historical divide? Certainly not by mocking Pocahontas and keeping Pocahontas in the caricature we have reduced her to be, including in the Capitol Rotunda. Far from me the idea of asking for that painting to be taken away, but it is high time that another picture was displayed with a completely different image of Native Americans. By the way, one about slavery would also be a good thing, and that could bring the number of paintings to ten with these two additions.
That miracle of being able to live beyond the horror of the past in communion with the other side, bringing together equals who are able to bury the dead of the other side the same way we bury ours and accept the homage from the other side. Sharing death is just as symbolical and strong as sharing life. But to share, it is definitely necessary not to be a supremacist of any kind. The film is maybe slightly too radical with the white supremacists at the end, though they sure deserve the treatment they get.
This film is thus a call for stepping over past divides, past hatred, past hostilities, past conflicts and building a new world of harmony, discussion, exchange, and togetherness. We can today pull down the mental and psychological walls we have built between the various ethnic groups and cultural communities in our societies. I have often been called a black lover or even a N*** lover but I am proud of having supported the American Indian Movement in Wounded Knee, just as much as I supported Martin Luther King Junior and Angela Davis.
We still have some way to go to finally fully share oour common road and our common future.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU