Dances With Wolves Quiz



By: Nathan Chander

6 Min Quiz

Image: tmdb

About This Quiz

"Dances with Wolves" struck a nerve with audiences everywhere, bringing an epic Western tale to the big screen in dramatic fashion. How much do you know about this timeless Kevin Costner tale?

"Dances with Wolves" was released in 1990. It is based on which work of art?

The novel of the same name, written by Michael Blake, was published in 1988. Blake wrote the book hoping that it might be picked up as a movie.


Blake initially wrote the story as a typical screenplay but then changed it into a novel. Why?

Blake's screenplay wasn't attracting any attention, but a friend (named Kevin Costner) told him that it might find a better reception if it was in a novel format. Blake listened, and eventually, a small publisher bought the book.


The story is set during which time period?

The story is set during the Civil War when a soldier leaves behind the bloody chaos for something simpler and quieter.


You already know that Kevin Costner is the star of the film. Who directed?

Costner actually didn't want to direct but couldn't find anyone to take the job in the manner he preferred. So, he decided to do it himself.


The book and movie were later criticized for what attribute?

Both the book and movie took flack for being a little too similar to "A Man Called Horse," a 1970 film that features some of the same plot points.


The story features a Civil War soldier who winds up on the Western frontier. Why isn't he instead fighting in the war?

The soldier, John Dunbar, is hurt during a courageous charge that turns the tide of a battle. His heroics earn him his choice of reassignment, so he chooses a lonely outpost in the West.


During his desperate last battle charge, what does Dunbar do?

Dunbar lets go of his horse's reins and spreads his arms in an acceptance of his inevitable demise. The gesture was completely improvised by Costner and became one of the defining moments of the movie.


Much of the movie's script had to be translated into which Native American language?

About a quarter of the script had to be painstakingly translated into Lakota, a task made difficult by the fact that so few people fluently speak the language. Some Indians say the translation is far from perfect.


Dunbar winds up in a small Western fort all by himself. Why is he alone?

Dunbar and another soldier arrive to find the fort empty. The second soldier leaves and means to return with more troops, but he's killed en route to Fort Hays. Dunbar is stranded alone on the plains, surrounded by Indians.


In which state was the movie NOT filmed?

The movie's broad, open landscapes are authentic to the story. Most of the film was shot in Wyoming and South Dakota.


Mary McDonnell plays Costner's love interest. What is her Indian name?

McDonnell is Stands With A Fist, the fiery woman who falls for the strange white man. The actress also appeared in "Passion Fish."


Stands With A Fist is a Native American woman.

Stands With A Fist lives with a Lakota tribe, but she's actually white. She was adopted by the tribe after her white family was murdered, and she later married an Indian man who died.


Costner started filming even though he didn't have enough financial backing for the project. What was the budget?

In 1990, $15 million was a good chunk of change, and Costner was fortunate that Orion Pictures decided to foot much of the bill. Even then, the film went millions of dollars over budget.


"Dances with Wolves" rocketed to the top of the box office.

The movie was in theaters for months but never managed to take the top spot. But that fact didn't take anything away from its widespread success.


One of Costner's family members appears in the film. Who was it?

His daughter, Annie Costner, plays the child version of Stands With A Fist -- if you like Freudian jokes, now's the time. She was only 6 years old during filming and later appeared in several other movies made by her father.


The movie went millions of dollars over budget and some predicted it would end Costner's career. How much did it make at the box office?

"Wolves" wasn't just financially successful -- it was a towering achievement. It hauled in around $425 million dollars, just behind "Pretty Woman," "Home Alone" and "Ghost," the No. 1 movie of the year.


One famous scene required many live bison. How many bison were needed for the shot?

The memorable scene showing a bison stampede featured about 3,500 of the huge animals. They were just one reason that the budget spiraled out of control.


"Dances with Wolves" is the No. 1 Western in history.

No Western has ever had this kind of success. Decades later, Costner's masterpiece is still the top-grossing Western of all-time.


A robotic bison was built for the movie. How much did it cost?

The fake bison alone cost roughly a quarter of a million dollars. It's no wonder the movie went over budget.


In one scene, a bison charges straight at an Indian warrior. How did producers convince the bison to charge the camera?

The tame bison had a serious weakness for cookies, specifically, Oreos. When his moment in the spotlight arrived, the cookies were used to bring him charging towards the camera, not in anger, but to satisfy his cookie cravings.


A famous rock star provided a tame bison for some of the film's scenes. Which star loaned his precious animal?

Neil Young (of course) had a bison that he liked to hang out with. He loaned the rather tame beast to Costner for the film's trickier scenes.


Dunbar eventually befriends some local Indians. They call him what?

Dunbar partially tames a wolf pup. The Indians note this act and begin calling him "Dances with Wolves."


The movie was a box office hit. It was also nominated for 12 Academy Awards.

It's true, "Dances with Wolves" is among the most celebrated movies in American history. It earned a jaw-dropping 12 Oscar nominations.


Of the film's 12 Oscar nominations, how many did it actually win?

The film capitalized on its nominations, winning a total of seven Academy Awards. It is still one of the biggest Oscar hauls in history.


The movie features numerous action sequences. Costner did all of his own stunts.

Costner did almost all of his own stunts. But he wisely left the most dangerous stunts to his double.


Dunbar makes friends with a cute wolf pup. What's the wolf's name?

Because of its little white paws, Dunbar calls the wolf "Two Socks." The pup grows up but still hangs around Dunbar's home.


The film's score is famous. "The John Dunbar Theme" was adopted by which organization?

The United Way used the theme song for years, leveraging the music's power (and the movie's fame) to aid its causes.


Which of the following Oscars did the movie NOT win?

Costner didn't win Best Actor for his role. But the movie was only the second Western ever to win Best Picture.


Costner insisted on telling the full story. How long is the movie?

The movie is epic in both story and length. It runs for a full three hours.


Before he died, Michael Blake wrote a sequel to the story. The story may eventually make it to the screen in which format?

The sequel, which picks up about 10 years following the end of "Dances with Wolves," is titled "The Holy Road." It may (or may not) be still under development as a mini-series.


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