Tag: Chris Eyre

April 20, 2016 / / Main Slate Archive

In the 1998 film SMOKE SIGNALS, people are constantly telling stories. The film’s protagonists, Victor and Thomas, both young Native American men from the Coeur D’Alene Reservation in Idaho, tell each other stories while attempting to make sense of their families and their identities. Thomas is the more explicit storyteller: he’s known all over the reservation for his tales, which, much to Victor’s chagrin, often involve Victor’s estranged father Arnold, who left the reservation when Victor was twelve. Victor has his own stories about his dad. Sadder than Thomas’s, they mostly arrive in the film in the form of memories: they are the stories Victor silently tells himself. When Victor and Thomas take a road trip to collect Arnold’s ashes, the pair uses storytelling as a currency and defense mechanism, as well as a method of bonding with the people they meet along the way. They control and interrogate narratives throughout the film, an element that is fascinating in itself, but takes on greater significance given how frequently Native American people have been stereotyped and silenced on film.