(Tonto and) the Lone Ranger

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(Tonto and) the Lone Ranger

I've read the postings re reviews of the movie The Lone Ranger, so I thought I would try my hand at writing a review after seeing the movie.

[The following is the perspective of one Anishinabe woman on the movie titled 'The Lone Ranger'.]

I enjoyed this movie immensely.  It made me laugh out loud.  Johnny Depp has his own unique perception of who Tonto was.  He did his best to try and bring across an understanding of who we are as native people.  That he fell short comes as no surprise to me, but I respect his attempt to portray Tonto as someone other than the Lone Ranger’s sidekick.

As a native person, I understood some of the things that Tonto did.  In one of the earlier scenes, you see him burying the rangers who died in the ambush.  That he would do this, tells us that our people believed that the dead should be treated with respect.  Yes, he did take their things, but he always left something in return. 

When he was talking to the spirit horse, he tried to tell the horse that he was choosing the wrong brother.  But the spirits have their own reasons for the knowledge and help that they give us, and we often don’t want to believe the signs that we are given.  Tonto dragged his feet about this all the way through the movie.

There were lessons that the Lone Ranger needed to learn, and Tonto did his best to teach him.  One of the most important was a realization that justice is often put aside when it comes to wealth and power.  We see this all around us in the way business is currently practiced.  And this struck a chord with me while I was watching the movie.  The other lesson was that nature was out of balance.  And the carnivorous cannibal rabbit was a good example.

Tonto had his reasons for wanting to kill the windigo, and they were personal ones.  But the windigo should be killed because of the evil it embodies, the grief it causes, and the terror it spreads.  The windigo can be clothed in ugliness like Butch Cavendish, or it can be clothed in a nice suit, such as his brother, the businessman who mouthed good words, yet whose actions spoke otherwise. 

The ending comes with the bad guys getting what they deserve, the Lone Ranger getting an honour that he refuses, and the businessmen remain.  Even though this time the good guys won, you know that there is always the possibility that among those bankers and businessmen is another windigo.  In fact, you know this to be a certainty, at least I did. 

Tonto was not a sidekick, he took matters into his own hands.  He seized the moment, and went with the flow.

The last stand of the Comanche shows us that even when it looks as though this might be your last stand, you never give up.  You keep going, even though the end is death.  This willingness to sacrifice all for what you believe in is what has, in the end, kept us strong and helped us to survive.  We know we are a strong people.  The Comanche would let no one, not Tonto, and certainly not the Lone Ranger with all his naive talk of justice, stand in their way.

The dialogue was witty and funny.  Those little incidents that make a movie memorable were there.  When the heroes were in the whorehouse, Tonto seemed to know his way around pretty well.  When the Lone Ranger commented on this, Tonto replies that he saw it in a vision.  Then you see a regular walk by, and she says casually, “Hi, Tonto “ and you just know how he knew her.  This is humour native people understand. It was funny.  In once scene, when Tonto was asked what his crime was, and he responded “Indian”, we laughed, and I noticed that none of the white men present (in the movie) said, ‘That’s no crime’. It was humour with a bite to it. We had another laugh when the Lone Ranger asks Tonto what Kemosabe means, and he says, “wrong brother”.  And, of course the Lone Ranger theme song was introduced at just the right time.

Other family members and I talked about this movie, and most agreed that this is a movie, it is a Hollywood movie, so it is supposed to be entertaining.  The chase scenes were certainly entertaining. It is not a documentary, so I did not expect historical accuracy. I did not mind the mix of cultures and while the concept of windigo was taken from the Cree and Ojibwa culture, it was useful to illustrate the concept of greed that forms the basis of the story.  Those two ‘windigos’ were not to be considered uncommon. 

I liked the ending of the story.  After he tells his story for the final time to the little Lone Ranger, he leaves the diorama, and it occurred to me that he could have left it any time, and chose not to.  When we see him at the end, walking back onto the land, wearing a suit, and carrying a suitcase, we remember that even when we take on some of the white man’s ways of doing things, we are who we are. It is ok to wear a suit; my grandfather did, and he was a proud Anishinaabe man who cared for and served the people. 

We are still around, after all that has happened.   We can take what we need and remain connected to the land. We are that strong.  And I could never figure out if the bird was alive or dead, and maybe the message is, it doesn’t matter, as long as you treat everything with respect.