Incident at Oglala

(Michael Apted, USA, 1992)


Incident at Oglala is a powerful documentary directed by Michael Apted of 7 Up series fame.

It covers the same, unsettling slice of contemporary American history which Apted approached from a fictional angle in Thunderheart (1992): the deaths of two FBI men at the Pine Ridge Sioux reservation in 1975, and the subsequent prosecution of Leonard Peltier on the basis of falsified evidence.

Beginning with the sensational flurry of violent events that occurred on the fateful day, Apted then steps back to provide the historical context of relations between the Indians and what they dub the “dominant society” of white America.

Given the astonishing levels of injustice and oppression in this history, Apted does not even pretend to present a fair or impartial picture of the conflicting sides. Stylised in the manner of Errol Morris’ The Thin Blue Line (1988) – shot, edited and scored for maximum dramatic effect – this is a riveting and sobering piece of didactic cinema.

MORE Apted: Coal Miner’s Daughter, Continental Divide, Critical Condition, Enough, Extreme Measures, Nell

© Adrian Martin November 1993

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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