Smoke signals is a 1998 independent film directed by Chris Eyre and written by Sherman Alexie, based on the short story "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona" from his book "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven." The film tells the story of two Native American young men, Victor Joseph and Thomas Builds-the-Fire, who embark on a journey from the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation in Idaho to Phoenix, Arizona to retrieve the ashes of Victor's estranged father, Arnold.
The film explores themes of identity, family, and cultural heritage as Victor and Thomas navigate their complex relationship and the challenges they face on their journey. Victor, who is angry and resentful towards his father for leaving the family and abandoning their cultural traditions, initially resists Thomas's attempts to connect with him and share stories about their people and history.
However, as they journey together and confront the difficulties they face, including a car breakdown and encounters with racism and violence, Victor begins to understand and appreciate the value of his cultural heritage and the importance of storytelling in preserving it. He also begins to see Thomas in a different light, recognizing his intelligence and wisdom despite his sometimes quirky and eccentric behavior.
The film also highlights the struggles of Native American communities, including the impact of colonialism and the loss of traditional ways of life. It shows the complex and often troubled relationships between Native Americans and white society, and the ways in which the past continues to affect the present.
Overall, Smoke signals is a powerful and moving exploration of identity, family, and cultural heritage. Its engaging and nuanced portrayal of the experiences of Native American characters and the themes it tackles make it a poignant and thought-provoking film that remains relevant and meaningful today.
Smoke signals is a 1998 film directed by Chris Eyre and based on the short story "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona" by Sherman Alexie. The film follows the journey of two Native American men, Victor Joseph and Thomas Builds-the-Fire, as they travel from the Coeur d'Alene Indian reservation in Idaho to Phoenix, Arizona to retrieve the ashes of Victor's estranged father.
The film presents a nuanced portrayal of Native American culture and challenges many stereotypes and assumptions about Native Americans. One of the central themes of the film is the importance of storytelling and the role it plays in preserving and passing on cultural traditions. Thomas, who serves as the narrator of the film, is a gifted storyteller and throughout the film, he tells stories about his people and their history. These stories serve as a way for Thomas to connect with his culture and to share it with others, including Victor, who has largely rejected his Native American heritage.
Another theme of the film is the struggle to find one's place in the world and the challenges that come with trying to reconcile one's cultural identity with the dominant culture. Both Victor and Thomas struggle with this in different ways. Victor has largely rejected his Native American heritage and tries to distance himself from the reservation and its problems. On the other hand, Thomas is deeply connected to his culture and is proud of his heritage, but he also struggles with being an outsider in the dominant culture.
The film also explores themes of fatherhood and the importance of family. Victor's relationship with his father is strained and he has a difficult time understanding and coming to terms with his father's actions. However, through his journey with Thomas, he begins to learn more about his father and his own cultural identity.
Overall, Smoke signals is a powerful and thought-provoking film that challenges common stereotypes about Native Americans and offers a nuanced portrayal of Native American culture. Its themes of storytelling, cultural identity, and family are universal and relatable, making it a timeless and important work of art.