Silent Tongue
Entertainment: +1
Acceptability: -2

SILENT TONGUE opens with the dead Indian wife of Talbot (River Phoenix) bound, tied and decaying in a tree. The distraught husband refuses to burn her body so that her spirit may be released. Talbot's father, Prescott Roe (Richard Harris), travels across the plains to find the Kickapoo Medicine Man Sideshow. Roe wants to trade three horses for owner Eamon McCree's other Indian daughter, Awbonnie (Sheila Tousey). This is the same proposition Roe made the year before to obtain his son's recently deceased wife. When McCree(Alan Bates) postpones the trade, Roe kidnaps Awbonnie. Meanwhile the dead Indian girl's spirit begins to violently torture Talbot, Roe, and her sister. Writer/Director Sam Shepard's presentation of the old west is a surreal, symbolic one with characters who are almost cartoonish. River Phoenix more closely resembles a pouty child than a grief stricken husband, and the chronic drunkenness of McCree gets old real quick. What started out as a "sold out" screening, ended with the theater half empty. There is little mystery why this film took two years to find a distributor after its completion - it's just plain boring.

McCree is a man of few scruples. A dream sequence reveals that his daughters are the product of his rape of an Indian woman, named Silent Tongue. The two fathers in the film are pathetic as McCree is a drunk, selfish pig and Roe is so concerned for his son's mental well-being that he resorts to kidnapping. Most of the film's violence results from the embittered Indian ghost as she tortures all the humans in the film in order to set her spirit free. She stabs Roe, taunts Talbot, sends a hawk to attack him, his father and Awbonnie. Indian spiritism is presented as a valid form of religion, but McCree's character is held up for ridicule as he alludes to being nominally Christian. The film's one redeeming quality is its refreshing scarcity of foul language and profanity. There doesn't seem to be any discernable message in SILENT TONGUE other than a continuance of white male-bashing.

Preview Reviewer: Krista Kay Bontrager
Distributor: Trimark Pictures, 2644 30th St., Santa Monica, CA 90405

Crude Language: Few (2) times - Mild 1; Moderate1
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: Regular - once
Violence: Horse shot; buzzard shot and wings ripped off; woman's tongue pulled; man dragged by horse; multiple stabbing; threats to shoot son; man tortured by Indians; man stabbed in back
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Crude reference to male genitals
Drug Abuse: Chronic alcoholism
Other: Indian spiritism
Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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