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1) Incident at Oglala strives to provide a specific "social service" in attempting to both prove the unjust imprisonment of Leonard Peltier and make its audience aware of the "incident" as one of many in the pattern of oppression that is the history of the American Indian. At the same time it acts politically as it appears to allow the Indians, the under-represented minority, to speak for themselves, telling what seems to be their own story. The interviews serve as "pseudo-monologues." (Caren Mulford Slagel)

2) The filmmakers concentrate on demonstrating that Peltier didn't get a fair trial, and that's not an inherently dramatic approach; the movie is built on an accumulation of subtle discrepancies and nagging doubts, rather than on a sense of inexorbale progress towards a smoking-gun solution. (Terrence Rafferty 59)

3) Because while Leonard Peltier is in prison, we all are. (Ramsey Clark)

4) The 93-minute documentary holds you spellbound (as Thunderheart, for the most part, does not), and it does so by patiently marshaled, unrhetorical arguments that offer each viewer the chance to become sleuth, psychologist, trial lawyer, and judge. (John Simon)

5) Robert Redford’s name on the marquee – he’s the narrator and executive producer – gives this stinging documentary about racism and injustice its best shot at getting noticed. Redford uses his clout well. (Peter Travers)

6) Even after seeing the death photos of Ron Williams and Jack Coler, even after poring over the thousands of pages of documents and incriminating court testimony, I cannot see Leonard Peltier as anything other than a tragic figure, a victim of the martyrdom that now shackles him. (Scott Anderson)

7) I am distressed, saddened, and outraged that so many Americans have forgotten, or perhaps never known, who he is and what he represents, If we forget him, we forget the struggle itself. Strangely, he is much better known outside of this country than here – in Europe, in Canada, in South America, in Asia, and Africa. Enlightened people around the world see in him the struggle of all indigenous people for their lives, their dignity, for their sovereignty, their future. And they wonder: how is it that this man has been held so long when his innocence is known by those who hold him? Here in the United States, his voice, and the urgent message of indigenous peoples everywhere, has been muffled if not silenced. Those who put him behind bars – and insist on keeping him there after nearly a quarter century – believe he has been consigned to the dustbin of history, along with the cause of native peoples everywhere. We must not allow that to continue. (Ramsey Clark, from the preface of Prison Writings)

8) I’m one of those shadows myself. I, Leonard Peltier. Also known in my native country of Great Turtle Island as Gwarth-ee-lass – “He Leads the People.” Also known among my Sioux brethren as Tate Wikikuwa – “Wind Chases the Sun.” Also known as U.S. Prisoner #89637-132. (Leonard Peltier 4)

9) There is one aspect of Peltier’s story that does stretch credulity; if true, as it just barely might be, it makes the man into a saint and martyr. But even as a mere man, he deserves another trial. And, however hopeless, the whole Indian problem needs reconsideration. The goddess Justice can perhaps afford to wear a blindfold; the rest of us, as the film makes clear, cannot. (John Simon)

10) Peltier will probably never win his freedom as long as what happened in that pasture at Jumping Bull remains shrouded in myth. And as long as Leonard Peltier continues to be more important as a symbol than as a man. (Scott Anderson)

11) One cannot completely sympathize with a movement that does not either own up to the crime or prove lack of complicity in it. Nor can one entirely accept a movie that does not ask more forthright questions about it. (Richard Schickel)

12) Apted has framed and edited well, but there are a few questionable matters. When someone mentions the flight of a man’s spirit, Apted inserts a shot of soaring eagle. He recreates the initial FBI auto-chase, with gunshots crackling on the sound track. It’s not misleading, just superfluous. And we never know who is questioning the interviewees. Apted? Redford? Both? Others? (Stanley Kauffman)

13) At times, the legal details become such a thicket that we tend to miss the forest for the trees. And the quick-cutting, back-and-forth structure Apted has chosen for the film is often disorienting. Still, his historical point does come through. What he reveals is the spirit of angry desperation that hung over Pine Ridge. One of the poorest reservations in America, Pine Ridge had become the site of a bitter civil war between the traditionalist Lakota Sioux – who looked back to the Indian past in an attempt to restore a sense of pride in the population – and the pro-government Indians. (Hal Hinson)

14) The purpose of “Oglala” is bluntly political. As it marshals documents and interviews people in both sides of the case, it aims to win Mr. Peltier his freedom, or at least a new trial. One obvious tactic is to give Mr. Peltier such high visibility that the Government will be embarrassed into reconsidering his case. In that attempt, “Oglala” benefits immeasurably from the star aura of Robert Redford, who narrates the film and is its executive producer. Without the Redford name, it is doubtful that such an uncommercial tale would be taking up valuable space on movie screens. (Caryn James)

15) Eloquently directed by British film-maker Michael Apted, Incident at Oglala does not attempt to prove Peltier’s innocence. But it does make a convincing case that the FBI suppressed evidence in his trial and intimidated a key witness into committing perjury. The film also claims that the FBI falsified evidence to secure Peltier’s extradition from Canada after his arrest in western Alberta 16 years ago. (Brian Johnson)

16) "Incident at Oglala" never tries to whip us into a frenzy of indignation. If just shows us what life was like at Pine Ridge, and how determined the government was to keep Native Americans from asserting their rights; and by the time the picture is over we're seething. (Terrence Rafferty 59)

17) I've got a man in a maximum security prison at Leavenworth who none of us think should be there, and I just hope that my even-handedness doesn't mean that the film gets swept under the carpet or avoided. (Michael Apted)

18) But coming, as it does, soon after the Los Angeles cataclysm, this film is further evidence of our country's ability to ignore miseries -- well-known miseries -- among our own people. Peltier's imprisonment, it seems, is the oblique result of such an ignoring. (Stanley Kauffmann 32)

19) [Incident at Oglala is] another example of non-Indians creating an image for the Indian. (Caren Mulford Slagel)

20) Inevitably those who support Peltier have come to see his case as a litmus test in which one’s opinion about Peltier becomes a measure of one’s willingness to atone for the sins of the past. (Scott Anderson)

21) Is there a government conspiracy against the American Indian Movement with Peltier as sacrificial lamb? Oliver Stone is mulling a film of In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, Peter Matthiessen’s 1983 book on the case. But appeals for a new Peltier trial or a pardon have long languished in the courts. Incident at Oglala – muckraking filmmaking at its best – may just raise his hopes a little higher. (Peter Travers)

22) Both movies [Incident at Oglala and Thunderheart] also share a director, Michael Apted, who is probably the first filmmaker ever to bring out such closely related works at roughly the same moment. Certainly no one before has so vividly availed himself of the chance to shed the crosslight of fiction (Thunderheart was made after (Incident) on his own attempt to write history on film. Flaws and all, the movies constitute a directorial tour de force, as well as an intriguing study in cultural anthropology and a plea to social conscience that is difficult to ignore. (Richard Schickel)

23) Whether one thinks of AIM as the heroes or villains of the Indian civil rights movement depends not only on one’s political leanings but also on the quality and quantity of information one has received about their activities. (Alan Velie)