Soldier Blue is a 1970 Revisionist Western film directed by Ralph Nelson and starring Candice Bergen, Peter Strauss, and Donald Pleasence. Inspired by the events leading up to the Sand Creek massacre of 1864, the film utilizes the narrative surrounding the massacre as an allegory for the contemporary Vietnam conflict.
This film provides examples of the following tropes:
- Broken Aesop:
- As pointed out by Roger Ebert in his review, the audience is supposed to identify with the Native Americans' suffering, but this point is undermined by the fact that the natives in fact play very little role in the narrative, with the focus primarily being on the white protagonists.
- The film's intended depiction of rape as a horrific act of violence is similarly undermined by the fact that the Attempted Rape of Candice Bergen's character Cresta by a group of Kiowa warriors earlier in the film is presented as being comical.
- Death of a Child: The massacre scenes feature several young Native American children (along with everyone else in the village) brutally murdered by crazed U.S. Calvary soldiers. Children are graphically shot, stabbed and trampled by horses all while the soldiers cheer on their own actions.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The climactic scenes are evocative of the 1968 My Lai Massacre, with U.S. soldiers brutally butchering innocent civilians with reckless abandon.
- Downer Ending: After all the bloodshed, Honus is led away in shackles and Cresta departs with the remaining few survivors.
- Exploitation Film: Some reviewers have accused the film of being one, claiming that the filmmakers seemed more interested in graphic violence and shock value than the supposed themes of war and genocide. DVD Talk's review, for example, calls it "essentially nothing more than a snuff film with a conscience...and a particularly suspect conscience at that."
- Gorn: The massacre scenes are a veritable orgy of bloodletting, dismemberment, and decapitation.
- Notable Original Music: The title song was written and performed by Buffy Sainte-Marie.
- Perspective Flip: It's the classic western plot of Cavalry vs. Indians, where the Cavalry are the evil savages massacring innocent civilians.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: During the massacre, many of the soldiers are depicted viciously raping native women left and right while giggling like maniacs.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Deliberately used during the ending. After the Army is done with Rape, Pillage, and Burn, they march out to the rendition of Battle Hymn of the Republic, which is almost comically cheerful.
- War Is Hell: As mentioned above, the battle scenes in this film are brutal.