"At times it seemed we were chasing a spirit more than a man."
- 2nd Lt. Britton Davis (Matt Damon)
"Do with me what you please. Once I moved about like the wind. Now I surrender to you and that is all."
- Geronimo (Wes Studi)
This 1993 'revisionist' Western tells the story of the white army who came to remove Apache warrior Geronimo (Wes Studi) from his land and the struggles the Indians put up in order to keep their land. Led by two Army leaders (Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall), the government tries to extract the Indians from the land, using both force and lies. Director Walter Hill (48 HOURS, THE WARRIORS) looks at both sides of the conflict and shoots beautiful cinematography in the American Southwest.
The story of the Apache renegade who waged a fierce, lifelong war against white settlers and the U.S. Cavalry. Academy Award Nominations: Best Sound.
In 1885, the United States, under the policy of "manifest destiny," had nearly finished conquering the west and its native peoples. The next step, the government believed, was to resettle the Apaches, but the powerful, rebellious warrior Geronimo threatened their plans. So Cavalry troops rode out to arrest him -- but they failed in their mission and he escaped. Thus began a campaign in which the army deployed more than a quarter of its men to track down the Indian leader. Although the soldiers greatly outnumbered Geronimo's small band of followers, he eluded capture for more than five years, as the cavalry chased him through Arizona, New Mexico, and all the way down to Mexico.
Filmed at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California and in Moab, Utah -- where famed western director John Ford shot many of his features.
Shot in Panavision; color by Technicolor. Titles by Hollywood Title Service.
Playing the notorious Apache leader is Wes Studi, an actor and member of the Cherokee Nation. Mr. Studi has appeared in both THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS and DANCES WITH WOLVES. Additional American Indian actors featured in the film are: Rino Thunder (Old Nana); Stuart Proud Eagle Grant (Sgt. Dutchy); Jackie Old Coyote (Apache Vision Woman); Jim Manygoats (Ailing Apache); and Leland Michael Darrow. Also in the film are Michael Minjarez and Sonny Skyhawk, both of whom, aside from being actors, were hired as dialogue consultants. Skyhawk is also involved with various Native American organizations dedicated to improving the American Indian image in film and television.
Actor Matt Damon's character, Lt. Britton Davis, was based on an actual cavalry officer of the same name. Davis, who joined the troops as a young man fresh out of West Point, did indeed meet with Geronimo. He subsequently wrote a book in 1929 about his experiences entitled "The Truth About Geronimo."
Director Walter Hill has noted that the sequence where Al Sieber doggedly pursues several horseback-riding Apaches is meant as an homage to Robert Aldrich, one of Mr. Hill's favorite directors. Perhaps coincidentally, one of GERONIMO's protagonists is a Mexican named Ulzana (played by actor Victor Aaron). Aldrich fans may remember him as the title character in the 1972 film ULZANA'S RAID which starred Burt Lancaster and also told the story of the army versus Indians.
GERONIMO: AN AMERICAN LEGEND is just one of several films dealing with this Apache chief's fascinating life. Ted Turner also produced a made-for-TV movie for TNT, his cable TV station, called simply "Geronimo." It aired on Sunday, December 5, 1993. In addition, there are two other films entitled GERONIMO, one made in 1939 with Preston Foster, and another made in 1962 starring Chuck Connors. None of these films divulge the eponymous character's fate. In 1909 he contracted pneumonia after a fall from his horse left him lying in a ditch overnight, unable to move. Allegedly, he was quite drunk at the time. He never recovered from the illness.