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The Education of Little Tree
Starring Joseph Ashton, James Cromwell, Tantoo Cardinal
Adapted from the novel by Forrest Carter
Written and Directed by Richard Friedenberg

IN SHORT: Injuns good. Christians bad. Pass it By.

The Education of Little Tree is a flat story of the raising of an orphaned boy in the Tennessee mountains during the Great Depression. For reasons not fully explained as the film begins, the boy is taken up into the mountains by his grandparents. Granma (Tantoo Cardinal) is a full blooded Cherokee. Grandpa (James Cromwell) is a white man who has found his way among the People.

On the mountain, Little Tree (Joseph Ashton) learns the way of his People. He carries bottles as part of his Granpa's bootleg operation and keeps an eye open for the revenooers who would bust up the still. While the white men down in the village drink up, and pay up, for the hootch, Little Tree makes friends with a blonde haired, bare foot beauty about his age. Friendship, of a sort, blooms.

As part of the community, come Sundays, hard shoes replace the moccasins the boy wears. Down in the Church, confession is heard openly. White folks have a lot to be ashamed about, we see. Politicians come to preach for votes, and warn about the Jews that want to take all the good life away. And after a bootleg bust, Little Tree is taken away to a state school, there to be held and educated until he is of age. He is not allowed to speak his "native" language ('course he doesn't speak Cherokee anyway) or use his given name. He makes one friend and suffers silently, until Grandpa shows up and breaks him out.

The Education of Little Tree is based on what must have been a moving and engaging novel by Forrest Carter. Must've been. The movie that's been made from the book is totally PC. Injun ways are good. White Christians are bad. They are vile discriminatory drunkards. Somehow I suspect that this is not the story meant to be told in the book, but Cranky only goes by what he sees on screen, and what was up there was a lot of pretty scenery and a whole mess more of unpleasant people and long suffering Native Americans.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Education of Little Tree, he would have paid . . .


You'll be able to rent this one, cheap.

Click to buy films starring James Cromwell

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