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Squanto: A Warrior's Tale Reviews

An unusual period drama that did not survive long in the theaters, SQUANTO evidences considerable care in its making, with an intelligent script, solid camerawork, and evocative locations. Its carefully crafted historic and ethnographic bent may lend this mythic saga longer staying power, especially abroad, than its poor box-office would at first suggest. America in the 17th century. Squanto (Adam Beach), a newly-wed Native American warrior, is one of several forced aboard a British ship after trading furs for trinkets with the sailors, and taken back to England to be displayed as an exotic curiosity. Squanto escapes shortly after arriving during a spectacle pitting him against a bear, stumbling into the company of an order of monks. As the brothers gradually learn to communicate with him, their initial fascination with the "noble savage" slowly develops into a more egalitarian relationship; they discover many values held in common as well as the inevitable differences. The story follows Squanto through his efforts to evade recapture, outwitting the tyrannical shipping magnate Sir George (Michael Gambon), and ultimately arriving back in America to greet the Pilgrims. A classic tale of good versus evil, with not too many surprises regarding who's on which side, SQUANTO nevertheless manages to offer some additional nuances in some of the secondary roles. Adam Beach gives a dynamic central performance as Squanto, a real historical character, playing the role unaffectedly and with great physical presence. (What little is known of his life story is used here, with considerable fictional "filling in" of the gaps.) Supporting players are all effective, avoiding the usual caricatures that often doom historical dramas of this kind to unintentional self-parody. Swiss director Xavier Koller (whose JOURNEY OF HOPE won the 1991 Academy Award for best foreign language film) has a good eye for detail, and along with the effective production design and often powerful cinematography, the sum is an entertaining family saga that is a cut above the norm.