The Return Of A Man Called Horse, In the 1840s, trappers with government backing push the Yellow Hands Sioux off their sacred land; they retreat into an apocalyptic spirituality, passively waiting for supernatural wrath to descend on their usurpers. Meanwhile, in England, Lord John Morgan feels his spirit weaken, so he returns to America to live again with the Yellow Hand. Finding them dispirited, he invigorates them as well as himself through self-imposed torture and other rituals. Once he convinces the clan to take direct action, Horse must devise a strategy to take the trappers’ fort. The clan’s women and boys take on special assignments to aid the assault to regain the sacred land.
It’s a minor point, but the Indian tribe John Morgan was associated with in “A Man Called Horse” was the Lakota Sioux, with the warrior Yellow Hand (Manu Topou) becoming it’s chief during the course of the story. If this branch of the tribe broke off from the main one, it probably should have been explained because in the latter part of the story, there’s a scene in which Red Cloud of the Lakota refuses to help the Yellow Hands, as he’s allied with the ‘white man of river’. If one follows these things with some sense of continuity, the error seemed to be an unforced one.
With the ‘vow of the sun’ ceremony so prominent in the original picture, I didn’t think there would be call to revisit the ceremonial rite here, but that’s what happened as a prelude to Morgan purifying himself and seeking his vision. More surprising was seeing how younger males of the tribe willingly submitted to the ordeal as well. There’s some historical fact to back that up, for young warriors it was a physical and spiritual test that was offered in sacrifice for their people. As I watched the scene, it occurred to me that Morgan showed no scarring from his sun ceremony of five years earlier, another unforced error if I had to guess.
Reading previous posters for this film it appears that it’s not nearly as well regarded as it’s prequel. Personally, I thought it was a decent story, but would have to concur that the original was better since it was exploring the Lakota Indian rituals for the first time. Oddly, I’ve never run across the sun ceremony referenced in any other movies other than these ‘Horse’ films, a bit surprising since the Western is my favorite genre and I’ve seen hundreds spanning the decades.