- Watch and Discuss the Movie “Smoke Signals”
Read this introduction to the film
Answer the following questions as you watch the movie At least three sentences per question. Hand write these so that you can submit them in class on Friday
- After Arnold saves Thomas from the fire, Grandma Builds-the-Fire says to him, “You saved Thomas. You did a good thing,” and Arnold replies, “I didn’t mean to.” Why does Arnold respond in this way?
- Near the beginning of the film, Thomas says, “You know, there are some children who aren’t really children at all. They’re just pillars of flame that burn everything they touch. And there are some children who are just pillars of ash, that fall apart if you touch ’em. Me and Victor—we were children born of flame and ash.” What does Thomas mean by this? What images of fire and ash appear in this film?
- Thomas is a story teller whom others do not always appreciate. Victor is a warrior at war with himself. How do these characters say about the place of Native Americans in modern culture?
What does being an Indian mean to Victor and Thomas? Give examples from the film.
- Thomas’ monologue at the end of the film is adapted from “Forgiving Our Fathers,” a poem by Dick Lourie, a non-Native author. The film’s version of the poem is given below. How does this poem work as a conclusion to the film?
- How do we forgive our fathers? Maybe in a dream. Do we forgive our fathers for leaving us too often or forever? Maybe for scaring us with unexpected rage, or making us nervous because there never seemed to be any rage there at all? Do we forgive our fathers for marrying or not marrying our mothers? For divorcing or not divorcing our mothers? And shall we forgive them for their excesses of warmth or coldness? Shall we forgive them for pushing or leaning? For shutting doors? For speaking through walls, or never speaking, or never being silent? Do we forgive our fathers in our age or in theirs? Or in their deaths? Saying it to them or not saying it? If we forgive our fathers, what is left?