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«Dances With Wolves», Michael Blake

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E-book edition in honor of the 20th Anniversary of the

Academy Award-winning film with new author’s preface.





After several years of writing screenplays in Los Angeles, a final downturn sent me away from doing anymore. The president of a high-level film company threw out a project his most famous and powerful producer was set to direct. I had re-written a screenplay that all the people involved in filming had become thrilled to make. But when the company president read the story I had written, he declared it “too intelligent” and the film was killed.

Feeling nothing I had attempted could be achieved, I read a famous book for relief . . . Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. Finishing it changed my feeling of what to do with my life. All I could think of was learning about Indians, and for several months I went to every decent bookstore in Los Angeles where Indian stories simply jumped into my hands from the shelves . . . forcing me to take them home and do nothing but read.

After more than a hundred books were absorbed, a story started to filter out of the reader’s heart and soul. What was entering my mind was shared with close friends—and one who would achieve long-term fame as an actor and director turned me in a new direction . . . Kevin Costner.

While still unable to think of anything but Indian life I made a visit to have dinner with Kevin and his wife at their small home. Wine was drunk and spaghetti was eaten in the living room while the three of us shared our current lives. After the meal was finished I couldn’t resist telling the beginning of a story that had begun to come into my mind.

Kevin listened intently, but when I finished and said that it might be a great movie, his face turned suddenly sour. He looked at the wall across the room and pointed at a stack of screenplays he had been sent.

“Don’t write another screenplay,” he insisted. “If you write another screenplay it will end up in there.”

Before I could even make a reply, Kevin stared across the room again and pointed at a tiny paperback novel that was lying alone on the floor next to the pile of screenplays.

“Write a book!” he shouted.

From that moment on he never stopped, and when at last I said goodbye and started out to jump on my motorcycle he followed me to the door, turned me around and grabbed my shirt with his hands.

“Write a book!” he commanded, his eyes glued on mine. “Write a book!”

“Okay . . . okay,” I giggled. “I’ve never written one . . . but I’ll give it some thought.”

When I was on the seat and starting up he was still at the front door. He waved goodbye, then placed his hands on each side of his mouth and called out once more . . . “WRITE A BOOK!”

After almost a year the last words of my first hand-written novel filled out the manuscript, and despite the first publisher’s insistence that the title be changed it managed to stay . . . Dances With Wolves.


Michael Blake

January 11, 2011






Lieutenant Dunbar wasn’t really swallowed. But that was the first word that stuck in his head.

Everything was immense. The great, cloudless sky. The rolling ocean of grass. Nothing else, no matter where he put his eyes. No road. No trace of ruts for the big wagon to follow. Just sheer, empty space.

He was adrift. It made his heart jump in a strange and profound way.

As he sat on the flat, open seat, letting his body roll along with the prairie, Lieutenant Dunbar’s thoughts focused on his jumping heart. He was thrilled. And yet, his blood wasn’t racing. His body was quiet. The confusion of this kept his mind working in a delightful way. Words turned constantly in his head as he tried to conjure sentences or phrases that would describe what he felt. It was hard to pinpoint.

On their third day out the voice in his head spoke the words “This is religious,” and that sentence seemed the rightest yet. But Lieutenant Dunbar had never been a religious man, so even though the sentence seemed right, he didn’t quite know what to make of it.

If he hadn’t been so carried away, Lieutenant Dunbar probably would have come up with the explanation, but in his reverie, he jumped right over it.

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