Let’s return to films for a moment to cover arguably the most popular and well received film to have the Great Plains as a backdrop – Dances with Wolves. In fact, the setting becomes almost as much of a character in the film as the actual characters. The film was shot mostly in South Dakota and the scenery is stunning. Of course, to anyone who is familiar with west river South Dakota, this comes as not surprise. The film includes sweeping vistas, a large buffalo hunt, as well as a realistic treatment of Native Americans (in this case Lakota Sioux). Here’s a link to the famous buffalo hunt scene.
The film was wildly popular when it appeared on the scene in 1990, even winning the Academy Award for Best Picture. It stars Kevin Costner who was coming off of two very successful films in Bull Durham and Field of Dreams. It may be my opinion, but I think it’s fair to say that Kevin Costner fell in love with South Dakota after filming there. A Californian by birth and upbringing, he developed a sense of belonging to the area, and purchased a large ranch and ventured into some other business dealings which have not fared so well. However, I think it’s obvious that he was struck by the beauty of the area enough to want to put his mark there, and I think that speaks volumes for the potential of the Great Plains to gain a bit more respect and acknowledgement for the beautiful place that it is.