Smoke Signals movie

Posted by Winniem on October 16th, 2018

Smoke Signals movie (1998)

The movie “Smoke Signals” (1998) is a humorous yet serious narrative about a young man called Victor Joseph, whom the director describes as trying to forgive his father. The creation of the movie is almost exclusively Native American Cast. In the film two men embark on a journey from the Coeur d Alene Indian Reservation, Idaho to Arizona. The main characters, Victor and Thomas Builds-the-Fire, have shared a unique link between them since childhood. Thomas who has become a true believer in the existence of spirits narrates the film. On July 1976, Arnold Joseph who is the father of Victor accidentally set fire to a house leading to the death of all the people inside. However, he manages to rescue Thomas ad Victor. Arnold leaves his family when Victor is still a boy, and after many years, Victor learns of his demise. His mother sends him to collect the ash on a journey that he must travel with Thomas, the orphan boy. He, therefore, must swallow his pride so as to receive Thomas’s help. The sentimental and funny film brings out numerous social issues in the community as the paper will describe. The social problems that range from the Indian culture to family issues (divorce and domestic violence) to religion contribute significantly to shaping the society and people in the movie.

The film shows the various social family problems that get encountered by modern families and young marriages. The problems include domestic violence, divorce, alcoholism and child neglect. These social problems have become widespread in the modern society and contribute to numerous adverse consequences to the family and society. The negative impacts include the decline in marital happiness and satisfaction, divorce, psychological issues among family members, hate, etc. In the movie, the consequences get demonstrated by the bitter resentment Victor has for his father after abandoning him when he was still young. Divorce also has led to the increase of single parent households and poverty. In the movie, this social perspective is shown by seeing Thomas getting raised by his grandmother and Victor by Arlene, his mother after his father left for a new life in Phoenix. The problem of alcoholism has significant adverse impacts on the family and society. The problems range from the deterioration of an individual’s health, neglect of family, lack of income for the household and get associated with violence. In the movie, the fire that leads to the death of Thomas parents was started by Arnold Joseph who was drunk when he put on fireworks that accidentally started the fire (Mica, 2015). The incorporation of family issues and their direct consequences for members provides significant lessons to the viewers. In the recent past, divorce has become widely accepted and become a common thing for the modern families. It gets attributed to some of the above mentioned social issues as well as others such as infidelity and financial matters.

Another social topic that is seen from the movie is culture. Culture in sociology gets categorized into two components namely material and nonmaterial. Material culture comprises of tangible creations of society, whereas nonmaterial includes the abstract creations of a community such as beliefs, values, ideology and norms. The cultures that can easily get identified in the movie include the Indian culture, the Native American culture, and the American Indian culture. When Victor and Thomas start their journey, they meet two teenage native girls who were driving backward in their car. The girls demand payment before they allow the boys to ride with them. In my opinion, the scene showing the girls driving in reverse would represent the direction that the Indian culture is heading backward. During the long bus ride by Victor and Thomas on their journey, they discuss on what it means to be an Indian and also what it means to be a human being. Victor’s idea of being an Indian has a lot to do with image, whereas, Thomas is in touch with the older and more genuine indigenous roots of being an Indian. The movie brings out a challenge to the cinematic history of Indians. In numerous other films, Indians are depicted as stoic warriors, bloodthirsty renegades, noble savages, and depressed people. In another scene in the movie, Victor says that Indians aren’t supposed to smile. He advises Thomas to get stoic, since if he does not look mean the white people will not respect him. In my opinion, the scene shows the struggle Victor faces for been an Indian in a white man’s nation. This advice given by Victor represents an example of belief (nonmaterial culture) that has been influenced by past occurrences, experiences or stories. During the ancient times when colonizers campaigned for land, religious converts and riches, the Indians also got seen as the losers. The Indian community tried to oppose the white man’s campaign to convert, assimilate and dispossess them; however, they could not win. In one of the films scenes, when angry Thomas wants to prove to Victor that his father won’t return he uses examples of the Mohicans and the Winnebago. In the movie, the issue of discrimination also gets seen when Thomas and Victor board a Greyhound bus, and everyone on the bus stared and them and to white men rudely sat on their seats and made derogatory comments.

The aspect of culture in the movie also gets depicted by the use of language and symbols to reflect cultural values. In the film, one of the symbols that get seen is hair cutting as a sign of mourning. When Victor sees the picture of their entire family in his father’s wallet and sees the word “Home” written on the back, he finally understands and cuts his hair as a sign that he now understand well enough the kind of person his father to mourn for him. This symbol represented mourning because the people agreed to do that. It is essential to respect and understand the different symbols, rituals, and narratives used by different cultures because each culture attaches its meanings to things they choose. The use of symbols also gets perceived as a way of communication among the various societies.

Religion is also a theme that is shown in the movie. In the movie, Thomas makes several statements about the sacramental fry bread. Thomas makes a statement in which he says "walk on water, rises from the dead with the story about Victor’s mother and the fry bread." Also, when Victor reaches home with the box containing his father’s ashes, his mother holds the box over her head. This gesture may be seen as a religious as well as a cultural gesture. In my opinion, it would mean a sign of respect as the head of the family. Respecting different religions is essential since they entail varying practices and beliefs in which each religious group attaches certain meanings.


Mica: (2015): Smoke Signals

Sherry Roberts is the author of this paper. A senior editor at Melda Research in nursing paper writing services if you need a similar paper you can place your order for medical essay writing service online.

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