by Jack Nilan            EMail :

Eagle's Wing(1979)

Jack   B-

IMDB    5.9

Tribe(s) :

Language :
English, sign language, Spanish



   An offbeat British movie that was filmed in Mexico, set in New Mexico before the Civil War and revolves around a white horse, Eagle's Wing, which changes hands a couple of times. An Indian chief starts out with Eagle's Wings and his small group of Indians is ambushed by another group and he escapes on Eagle's Wing with an arrow in his back.

   Pike (Martin Sheen) and Henry (Harvey Keitel) are two trappers. Pike has deserted from the army. When Henry is killed by an Indian's arrow, Pike is on his own. When Pike stumbles on to the Indian chief's death ceremony, he steals Eagle's Wing at gun point.

   Meanwhile a stagecoach is ambushed by a couple of Indians. One of them is White Bull, played by Sam Waterson and White Bull never speaks. White Bull takes an Irish girl, Judith, from the stagecoach with him.

   Meanwhile Pike and Eagle's Wing get used to each other. Pike happily rides across the desert singing songs and escaping from Indians. White Bull chases him but can't catch him. When Pike stops at a watering hole, White Bull springs out of the water, pulls him in, and then takes off on Eagle's Wing. The chase is on.

   White Bull and Judith begin a really strange courtship. Her hand still tied she is soon drinking out of his hand and smiling at him. She must like the strong silent type. White Bull finds gold, pearls and coins and decorates trees with them. I guess he isn't in to material things.

   When two Comanche Indians are called over as friends by two passing Mexicans, they are quickly gunned down. I guess that's what life was like in the West before the legends started. The Mexicans greedily gobble up the jewels White Bull leaves behind. Then one kills the other, because he must want it all. The one left then grabs for one another jewel, but it is a trap. A knife comes down on him and finishes him off.

   Meanwhile the chase continues and White Bull and Pike meet on an open field. It sets up like a joust from Arthurian days. White Bull throws down a bag of money in disgust as if to say, this is what you are about (but he doesn't say it). The sword and the lance are drawn and the combatants charge at each other. White Bull spears Pike and then just silently looks at him as he suffers. Pike gets his second wind and charges again. This time Pike slashes White Bull, but White Bull recovers enough to spear Pike one more time. White Bull puts his spear to Pike's throat, looks silently into his eyes, then gets on Eagle Wing and rides off. White Bull then pushes Judith towards Pike, but she turns back to him; she only has eyes for White Bull. White Bull doesn't care, he just rides off. Pike is not happy but that is the way things go sometimes.

   A bizarre movie that really doesn't show us anything about the Indian lifestyle. We really don't even know if White Bull is Comanche or Kiowa, and I guess it doesn't matter. I think they decided to do away with dialogue because they wanted us to see what was really going on so we could decide for ourselves? The movie was trying to make some kind of allegorical statement about how things really were in the West. What that statement was I'm not sure, but overall, a very interesting movie.