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Smoke Signals (1998)

Adam Beach , Irene Bedard  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (339 customer reviews)

Price: $24.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Adam Beach, Irene Bedard
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 14, 2011
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (339 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004YCKJX8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,459 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Though Victor (Adam Beach, Flags of Our Fathers) and Thomas have lived their entire young lives in the same tiny town, they couldn't have less in common. But when Victor is urgently called away, it's Thomas who comes up with the money to pay for his trip. There's just one thing Victor has to do: take Thomas along for the ride. You're in for a rare and entertaining comedic treat as this most unlikely pair leave home on what becomes an unforgettable adventure of friendship and discovery.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
271 of 280 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why I use this film with troubled adolescents December 14, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
I work as a psychotherapist with adolescents and young adults. I use "Smoke Signals" with them by assigning them to rent and view the movie, which is always enjoyable because it's witty, humorous, wise, and significant. The movie poses two essential questions: 1) If someone else has mistreated, hurt, abandoned, or disrespected you, is it possible to forgive them if they've NEVER asked forgiveness, never done anything to "put it right," never returned in atonement to undo the damage, and never begtun to deserve it? And 2) if it *is* possible--and it may not be--SHOULD you? Because if you do, doesn't that just make you a willing victim by letting them "get away" with what they did, and pretending the relationship is okay again?
Victor lives in the tension of this dilemma. As a 12-year-old youth, he witnessed the effects of alcohol on his family. His father vascillated between being loving and instantly "turning" to become hostile, violent, and humiliating to the young boy. Victor finds himself becoming more deeply embarrassed by his family's domestic abuse and alcohol use, even defiantly scolding his own father that his favorite Indian is "Nobody...nobody...nobody!"
Victor's mother awakens the next morning to see Victor angrily smashing his father's beer bottles on the back of his father's picup truck (the two things he believes his father loves more than him), and the epiphany stuns the mother, who insists on an immediate end to family drunkenness. Proving Victor's fears true, the father--forced to choose between alcohol and family--flees the family, and never returns. It is within that unchanged arrangement that his father dies, 8 years later, having never returned home.
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99 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fry bread, John Wayne's teeth, and storytelling..... January 19, 2002
"Smoke Signals" was the first movie to be written, directed, and co-produced by a Native American. It is based on the novel "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" by Sherman Alexie, who also published a movie adaptation of "Smoke Signals" as well.
The majority of the cast is from a variety of Canadian First Nations tribes (Coast Salish, Cree, Cayuga, Ojibwa), so there are different cultural backgrounds at work as well. "Smoke Signals" is a journey of the heart, an exploration of what it means to be Indian, venturing into the world outside the rez. Thomas's stories are part Indian legend, part reweaving of the facts surrounding Victor and his father.
The story follows Victor Joseph as he goes to collect the remains of his father, who had abandoned his family and moved to Arizona (the film's working title was "This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona," based on a chapter of "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven." His wise friend Thomas Builds-the-Fire goes with him on a trip from their rez in Coeur-d'Alene, Idaho to Arnold Joseph's trailer in Arizona. Along the way they rediscover their pasts and their perceptions of the world around them.
An unusual, touching film that pokes fun at the stoic Indian stereotypes endorsed by Hollywood for decades, such as the "It's a good day to die" line. There are many notable First Nations actors (Adam Beach, Evan Adams, Tantoo Cardinal, Irene Bedard, Gary Farmer, Elaine Miles) that make this film a joy to watch. Inspired performances from all, especially Adam Beach and Gary Farmer. This is my favourite film of the last few years as it never loses its humour, mystical side, and beauty.
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56 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great road trip movie! March 15, 2004
By Kate C.
One of the greatest underrated movies ever made!
Most of the emotional bite is taken from Sherman Alexie's "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" leaving a great yet simple story about two Indians (Alexie himself dislikes the label "Native American") on the road from the upper Northwest to Arizona. The mission: collect the remains of the father of Victor Joseph-- played with great complexity by Adam Beach. Along for the ride is Thomas, the local reservation geek who brings along with him a vast array of stories from the past mixed with humor and pain played with resilence by Evan Adams, to the constant annoyance of Victor who has no time for stories or memories, only "truth" and the present tense.
This movie is a series of vignettes as the two travel off the reservation ("You're leavin' the Rez and going into a whole different country cousin." "But it's the United States." "Damn right it is, that's as foreign as it gets!") and into the wilderness of forgotten memories and rough landscape. Mixed in with the ponderings of what it means to be indeginous in America and who makes the best fry-bread is a great soundtrack which includes Dar Williams and Ulali.
This movie does not try to be more than it is: the story of two young men trying to find their place in the world with humor and anger. Director Chris Eyre keeps the story and the settings simple and the flashbacks flow fluidly from one iteration to the next.
I would highly recommend this movie to anyone!
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a Good Day to Be Indigenous.... June 5, 2004
I want to start out by saying Sherman Alexie is probably one of the greatest writers of our time. When I say "greatest writers" I don't mean "greatest NATIVE writers" or "greatest writers of COLOR," I mean Greatest Writers. Mr. Alexie manages to capture the most universal emotions (grief, joy, heartbreak, anguish) and make the excessible to all, yet he also brings his own unique flavor, style and ironic wit to the mix so we are never bored. I can honestly say that Smoke Signals is one of those films that is really dear to my heart for many reasons, and the screenplay by Alexie definitely is one of the contributing factors.
For starters, there are so many classic lines in this film. The first being that line I used as the subject for this review. "It is a good day to be Indigenous." I don't think we hear that everyday! The negative view of native people even today is really disturbing, and I think when people regardless of background see the portrayal of indigenous people in films, television shows, literature and education it continues to horrify and astound us all.
Secondly, the story is a wonderful and important one that I think everyone can relate to. It touches on the theme of fathers and the relationship with their children. Victor (Adam Beach) is an bitter, angry and distrustful young man who grew up on the Coeur D'Alene "Rez" with his bespectacled friend/nemesis Thomas Builds-the-Fire (Evan Adams). These young men are growing up in a culture separate from mainstream white culture--a culture they eventually leave when they go to retrieve the ashes of Victor's deceased father. What starts out as a road trip turns into something more significant than either of them could've imagined.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This is my 4th copy on DVD. I foolishly ...
This is my 4th copy on DVD. I foolishly loan it out to other teachers at school, and they disappear fast. Not this time! I nailed it to the underside of my desk drawer. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Kerry Benson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Excellent movie, particularly if you are familiar with American Indian culture.
Published 8 days ago by Choosy
5.0 out of 5 stars Adam Beach Fans
I love the cast, Native fans will love this classic. Items was as expected and shipping was great!
Published 9 days ago by Donna Barron
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth seeing.
This is a wonderful, quirky movie. It has such an unusual flavor that it must be authentically Native American.
Published 1 month ago by Fred Elgin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
All time favorite.
Published 1 month ago by Matthew H. Kubly
5.0 out of 5 stars The stoic and storyteller of Indian culture become a great...
I teach a class on First Peoples. I use this film every time I teach this class. Stereotypes are challenged and an honest look at life on the "rez" is examined. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Pat
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this movie and loved the humor
I enjoyed this movie and loved the humor. It is a great companion piece to _The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven_. I wish I had known about it when it first came out.
Published 2 months ago by Sharon
5.0 out of 5 stars Important for all to see.
What a great movie. Everybody needs to see this. It's an experience in American Indian realism with truth and humor as the main standouts and driving force. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Robyn Schultze
5.0 out of 5 stars Smoke Signals Rises Up
Excellent acting by every character. What a heart felt story. Again, I am saddened by how our American Indian have been and it seems, continues to be looked at. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Patricia L. Veach
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent movie, an underrated gem that was written
Excellent movie, an underrated gem that was written, directed, produced, and starred in entirely by Native Americans. A must-see buddy movie!
Published 2 months ago by moviemusicalfanatic21
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