Sorry for the long delay. Life tried to screw me over. I finally managed to survive it.
When we last saw Cleola and Waka Mani, he proposed that they
run away together and live happily ever after. Cleola is frightened and
confused by the prospect.
The new section begins
with Simon Crow, Jumping Elk and Waka Mani dressing for dinner. Lewis
comes in to announce that it’s time to party. Jumping Elk is ready for
it. Simon isn’t and Lewis is distressed. Simon says he needs rest. Waka
Mani thinks he’s teasing, but Simon insists that he’ll rest and join
them later. Simon Crow aside, the mood is rather jovial.
dinner bell rings. Jumping Elk says, “At home, we don’t need a bell to
tell us we’re hungry.” Everyone laughs. Waka Mani gives Simon Crow a
brotherly tap on the shoulder as he and the others go to dinner.
In the parlor, President Duquesne
compliments everyone on being ahead of schedule with that event that
none of us cares about. He shakes hands with Richard, Lewis and Jumping
As Duquesne continues on and on about raising
sufficient funds to enlarge their campus, Cleola and Waka Mani make
goo-goo eyes at each other. Richard notices. The shining light of true
love is blinding. Poor Richard moves to stand behind Cleola and places
his hands on her shoulders. She isn’t the least bit happy about it.
continues with a bit more prattle and then announces that he won’t make
a speech. Isaac claps, overjoyed. No one believe he’s such an idiot.
As a reward, they are allowed to indulge themselves with a glass of mild punch, whatever that means. A dash of liquor?
Cleola’s had just about enough of Richard trying to own her, so she
takes off. He follows and everyone else starts milling out the room,
too. Junius, because he’s the designated asshole, gives Waka Mani a
look. Goo-goo eyes are difficult to hide. Oh yeah, he witnessed their
first hot kiss way back when.
Upstairs, Simon Crow is
struggling to breathe. His condition is deteriorating fast. He coughs
up blood. Lewis… get your ass upstairs!
the President and Miss Cooper are dancing, much to the appreciation of
Lewis. Junius and Anna are entirely too close, but it’s a celebration
and Miss Cooper is having too much fun to notice. Jumping Elk is all
about the food though.
Cleola looks like she’d
rather be dead than with Richard. They head off to another room,
bypassing Waka Mani. Isaac and Lewis notice them leaving. Waka Mani stands alone in thoughtful contemplation.
Simon manages to get out of bed, yet he can’t open the door to call for
help. We’re reminded that he and his friends are prisoners. Because the
music is playing so loud, it won’t do any good to cry out.
bit of time has passed because Cleola, with Richard in tow, passes Anna
and Junius. Waka Mani appears. The two of them share intense eye-to-eye
contact. Richard is held up by the other couple, which is just as well
or he’d get his feelings hurt.
makes an announcement. “Tonight, I will go with you.” They share an
intimate moment of hand contact that could pass as Vulcan sex. Somehow,
Richard missed it all.
Upstairs, poor Simon is removing the cross from the wall. He intends to use it to unlock the door.
Jumping Elk and Waka Mani are heading back to the room. They’re all
laughing. Lewis makes fun of the thin punch. He hears a thud and notices
that the door is latched.
Waka Mani leads the
charge because he’s a man of action. He finds his beloved Kaji (crow) on
the floor next to the bed. Blood is coming out of his mouth and nose.
Jumping Elk runs to get President Duquesne. Waka Mani tries to clean up his friend.
Meanwhile, Cleola is sitting on the roof of the little house alone, wrapped in her mother’s shawl. She’s ready to go.
in the dorm, the President and Miss Cooper examine Simon Crow. They
both silently agree that there is nothing they can do for him. The
President takes Waka Mani to the side. Jumping Elk quietly
enters the frame. “It’s… it’s some form of pneumonia,” the president
says. “The air is much more humid here than where you’re from. There’s
not much we can do.”
This is no joke, folks. I
grew up in 85-100% humidity and it’s less than 30% here in winter and
for five straight years, I was horribly ill until I figured out why. The
opposite is happening to Simon Crow.
and Jumping Elk are distressed because they don’t have their medicine.
Waka Mani insists that they need the doctor from town.
lowers his head in shame. “He won’t come to a colored school and our
doctor is away until school begins.” In other words, racism is killing
Waka Mani makes no fuss when Duquesne
refers to him as John. The President says he has enough training to know
that they’re (he and Miss Cooper) are doing what a doctor would do. He
then says he’s sorry and appears to mean it.
Waka Mani and Jumping Elk exchange glances. “He will die,” says a heartbroken Waka Mani. Duquesne says it’s in God’s hands.
the door, Richard, Isaac and Junius are laughing. Duquesne doesn’t
appreciate that crap at all. He marches out the door with a lecture on
his lips. “Am I failing to comprehend something humorous in this
situation, gentlemen?” These brothers suck…
says no. Isaac claims it was irony because Junius said that Simon Crow
would have preferred to have died in battle like most Indians. The
brothers are disgusting. I wonder if this mess was added by the producer
Duquesne tells them that diseases
had killed many more Indians than bullets. “Whole tribes were wiped out
by cholera, small pox, pneumonia, tuberculosis.” He asks Isaac the
reason it happened. Isaac said it was because they had no resistance.
Without even looking at him, he addresses Richard. “Does that strike a
familiar cord, Mr. Singletary?”
Shamefaced, Richard responds. “Yes, Sir. Many of the early slaves died of the same diseases…for the same reasons.”
A disgusted Duquesne finally looks at Richard. “Yes, we had that in common.”
has the decency to feel bad about it. Junius continues his quest to be
an ass of epic proportions. “Sir, we’re sorry the Indian is sick, but
they should have never come here in the first place.”
smiles sarcastically and places his hand on Junius’s shoulder. “For
once, Mr. Parker, your appalling ignorance has unintentionally led you
to a valid conclusion.”
It’s not liked that asked to go there, punk.
Isaac is uncomfortable, yet Junius refuses to evolve. Duquesne then
orders them to be available to bring water when needed. He also
instructs them to wait down the hall. Richard has the nerve to be
shocked. The president says that if Simon Crow is to die, then it should
be in the company of friends. The three leave.
the room, Simon Crow is being supported by Lewis and Miss Cooper while
Jumping Elk prays over him. Waka Mani is helpless.
Cleola is still alone on the roof of the house.
Duquesne is furiously reading the Bible.
Waka Mani takes Simon Crows hands and gets on his knees, and tries to ease his friend’s passage into the next world.
we see Isaac taking a walk. He bumps into Cleola. She asks him what
he’s doing. He says that one of the Indians is sick and that they think
he’s going to die. She immediately panics, calls out Waka Mani’s name
and takes off running.
Inside, she pushes past
Richard and enters the room where Miss Cooper is standing guard. She is
shocked, horrified and sadden by Simon Crow’s condition.
slowly lowers herself to the bed and wraps her hands around Waka Mani
and Simon Crow’s entwined ones to prove that she recognizes Simon Crow’s
humanity. She also does this to support the man she loves.
Cooper gently takes Cleola by the shoulders and leads her away. As
before, Simon Crow deserved to die in the company of his friends: Lewis,
Waka Mani and Jumping Elk.
Simon Crow slips away
surrounded by those who love him. The three friends are deeply
distressed. Duquesne, Bible in hand, closes Simon Crow’s eyes for the
last time. Lewis stumbles out the door and runs away.
Duquesne leaves the friends to grieve in private.
the next scene, Waka Mani and Jumping Elk are back in the own clothes
and are preparing Simon Crow’s body for its final journey. A distraught
Lewis breaks the lock with a hammer and sets them all free.
is sitting alone with the Bible when Junius appears and confirms that
Richard has left (the actor who played Richard, Chuma Hunter-Gault) was
not available to complete the film). He was sent to find General
Junius wonders what Grollen
would think of the death. Duquesne answers, “We are all saddened by the
death of Simon Crow.” Junius isn’t, but he makes the appropriate
gestures and leaves.
Duquesne shakes his head at Junius’ unforgiveable bigotry and looks to the heavens for guidance.
Waka Mani is single-handed building a burial scaffold. Jumping Elk, who
is leaning against a tree, disagrees. “This is wrong. He should be
buried. The Elders will be angry!”
Waka Mani shouts back, “This is the way of our Grandfathers, before the white…”
stops himself and tries to explain it another way. “Kaji is far from
home. The old ways will help him find WakanTanka.” Wakan Tanka has
frequently been equated with God. The Lakota people will most likely
disagree with that assessment.
Next, we see everyone
else in the church. The men are sitting on one side and the women are
sitting on the other. President Duquesne is pacing in front of a wooden
When Waka Mani and Jumping Elk return to
their room, they discover that Simon Crow’s body is missing. Waka Mani
cries out angrily.
Just as Duquesne begins the
service, the two burst into the church. Cleola calls out Waka Mani’s
name. Someone else whispers that they’re in the house of god. Duquesne
briefly continues and pauses and then tries again. Human decency wins
out and he allows them to take their friend’s body.
carefully remove Simon Crow from the coffin and carry him away. Lewis
joins them. Cleola rises to follow. Junius jumps up. “Do something! Stop
Miss Cooper also joins the procession. Anna sits, staring straight ahead. A confused Isaac doesn’t know what to do.
their friend is placed upon the burial scaffold, Waka Mani cuts and
wraps up a lock of Simon Crow’s hair and presents it to Lewis. The
little boy is peeking through the bushes.
Lewis is distressed beyond words. Miss Cooper wordlessly comforts him. Cleola looks on with sympathy.
moves next to Waka Mani and extends her hand for the totem. She places
it upon Simon Crow’s body. If the others are surprised that she knows
what to do, it doesn’t show.
That night, Waka Mani
is waiting on the roof of the house. Cleola appears with a lantern. He
throws his belongings to the ground and climbs down. They wordlessly and
happily greet each other. They still plan to leave. Unbeknownst to
them, Junius is skulking next to the house, spying on them.
Mani realizes that Cleola has no belongings. She explains that Anna
wanted to talk and that she’d finally gotten away by saying that she was
going to the church to pray for Simon. Junius withdraws a pistol (the
same one that was in the drawer in the opening scene). You’d think
Cleola was engaged to him. The loss of Chuma Hunter-Gault also changed
the ending of the movie.
Waka Mani has doubts. “It is far, [my Midnight Sky]. There are many dangers.”
is ride or die. She’s ready. He tells her to get her things and meet
him at the reviewing stand. Finally, that silly stand serves a purpose.
Junius, gun and all, leaves. Though they should hurry, Cleola makes a
“Waka Mani. You must promise me one thing...” He’s ready to lay down his life for her. “…that I will be all six of your wives.”
He confirms that she’ll be all six. Lips lock. “All six… then I will have to love you forever.” Swoon people, swoon.
“That’s long enough,” she says.
short time later, Junius is hiding behind a tree near the reviewing
stand. Waka Mani is walking from a different direction. Cleola is trying
to sneak back. The maid appears, so she hides. Waka Mani is almost at
the reviewing stand. Junius aims and shoots. Waka Mani hears the click
of the gun and tries to dodge the bullet. He goes flying.
hears the shot and takes off running. Junius is casing the area around
the reviewing stand looking for Waka Mani’s body. He didn’t look
underneath it. Idiot. Waka Mani attacks his nemesis and disarms him.
Cleola is nearly there.
Waka Mani has his knife to Junius’ neck, ready to kill, but Cleola won’t allow it.
“Waka Mani! No! Please.”
Waka Mani was the on the receiving end of that attack and he’s not feeling charitable.
Jumping Elk appears.
Cleola continues to try to save Junius’ miserable racist life. “Anna loves him.”
and Isaac appear in their night clothes. Neither tries to disarm Waka
Mani, who still has justifiable throat-slashing on his mind.
reluctantly frees Junius. Everyone signs in relief. He makes his way
over to Jumping Elk. Junius stupidly tries to attack Waka Mani again,
but he is thwarted by Lewis, who holds him back and silently begs him to
Waka Mani turns his attention to Jumping Elk. “Leave him. He needs to hate.”
Junius is brave for no reason at all. “I’ll track you down.”
“Cleola, you’ll both be killed,” Isaac cries.
makes a plea of his own. “John, don’t force her to leave.” Like the
others, he fails to recognize that Cleola is in control of her own
Cleola steps forward and speaks for herself. “There is no place for us here.”
She and Waka Mani exchange looks. “We will make our own ways.” Right on, sistah.
continues to run his mouth. “Your way is here, Cleola.” He would die on
the spot if she said that she and Waka Mani have already bumped uglies.
Waka Mani moves to the other side of Cleola. “You can stay, [my Midnight Sky].” As if she was asking for his permission.
She considers it for half a second and then renders a verdict. “No.” Her days of being told what to do are over.
Mani and Cleola both acknowledge Jumping Elk and then head off into the
safety of the darkness. Junius is angry. Isaac is confused. Lewis is
distressed. Why didn’t Jumping Elk go with them?
It’s funny that Cleola is escaping in her Beckwourth’s school uniform.
The theme song, “Unbowed,” is plays in the background through the
credits. The music was written by Elizabeth Sellers and the lyrics by
director/producer Nanci Rossov, and was performed by Nita Whitaker.
A tribute is made to Michelle Thomas (Anna). She passed away from a rare form of stomach cancer at the age of 29 on December 23, 1998. Unbowed was released in February of 1999.
Unbowed screenplay was written by Mildred Inez Lewis, an African
American scriptwriter. It is rumored that this is the true story of her
ancestors. If true, then we know for certain Cleola and Waka Mani made
Try purchasing your own copy of this amazing movie here ($40.00) or here ($20.00 plus shipping and handling). I don’t know which one works the best. I used the first link years ago.
is the copyright and intellectual property of FILMANTHROPIC and Mildred
Lewis. No copyright infringement is intended, only thoughtful
discussion. Perhaps a few more people will secure a copy of this
marvelous film themselves.