Dances with critics

The movie review "Piety and Cruelty in 'Black Robe, Nov. 19, seems so far off the mark as to be puzzling. While many of the criticisms the author makes of the movie are valid, in the inevitable comparisons with "Dances With Wolves" he seems to conclude that "Dances" is the better work.On the contrary, in every category mentioned, except the acting, where "Black Robe" is sadly lifeless, it is far ahead of "Dances." In addition, the main element in "Dances" is a love affair between a soldier and a native girl. The movie doesn't even have the courage to make it truly cross-cultural, but sanitizes her with the discovery that she is a white woman who was captured by the Indians as a child. "Black Robe," on the other hand, has a love affair between a white man and a real Indian woman, which is only a couterpoint in a film with many more substantial issues. "Black Robe" is not a great film, and unfortunately does not rise to the challenge of its own high intentions; but what it does achieve is substantial and satisfying. "Dances With Wolves" is slickly executed and only superficially better than standard Hollywood fare. Brian Zavitz, Toronto

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