Run of the Arrow

Director: Samuel Fuller
Screenwriters: Samuel Fuller

Institute History

  • 1988 Sundance Film Festival


A white American refuses to accept that he is a part of the United States. He journeys West and joins with the Indians. The plot of Run of the Arrow immediately establishes it as central to Fuller’s preoccupation with the acceptance of “American national identity. He starts the film at a crucial historical moment in the formation of the U.S., the end of the Civil War; his hero joins the Indians, the most obvious obstacle to the territorial expansion of the U.S., he insists on the relationship of the film to actual American history by putting the title “The end of this story can only be written by you” over the final shots of the hero going back to become a citizen of the U.S.
—Alan Lovell

I wanted the Steiger character in Run of the Arrow to be the font, the basic root of all the hate that exists now in the South. But he didn't change in the picture. He went back with hate inside him.
—Samuel Fuller

We accept more easily the scene—which, on reflection, has a symbolic value—in which the Yankee soldier, irritated by his syncopated calls on the harmonica, saves the young Indian mute from the quicksand at the cost of his own life, precisely because it isn’t integrated into the film: thus intentions are continually being corrected by mise en scene. Fuller, who seemed so strongly attached to his fine ideas on America and the beauty of democratic life, contradicts himself in every frame: it is patently obvious that the customs of the Sioux inspire and please him infinitely more than the prospect of the peaceful life by the fireside so magnificently celebrated by Brooks and Hawks, as the numerous platitudes of the mise en scene show, a mise en scene which is here that of a critic, a politician, and a moralist.
—Luc Moullet, Cahiers

— Alan Lovell

Screening Details

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