Education Of Little Tree, The

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +2 1/2

Content: -2

In the depth of the Depression in 1935, an eight year old Indian boy, Little Tree(Joseph Ashton), loses his parents and goes to live with his grandparents in the remote mountains of eastern Tennessee. Although his grandpa(James Cromwell) is white, he is married to an Indian woman (Tantoo Cardinal) and is sympathetic to Indian ways. Grandpa uses Little Tree in his whiskey making business and on occasion must hide from government agents who are out to arrest them. Little Tree comes to love his mountain home, but welfare agents take him away to a school for young Indians to be educated and cared for. But his teachers are harsh and misguided and Little Tree is determined to return to his grandparents in their mountain home. The mountain scenery in the film is gorgeous and the loving relationship between Little Tree and his grandparents is moving and uplifting. The film will likely appeal to young and old alike.

Surprisingly, the producers of the film have chosen to portray the pagan beliefs of Little Tree's Indian grandma sympathetically while depicting backwoods Christians as dishonest, bigoted and cruel. In one scene in which Little Tree and his grandparents attend a country church, both the preacher and the local congregation are portrayed as silly and ignorant. Also, a Christian man sells Little Tree a diseased calf who soon dies. And a teacher in the Indian school makes the boys pray, but treats them harshly. Grandpa characterizes all white men as dishonest and cruel, but doesn't hesitate to make illegal whiskey. Grandpa also indulges in several profanities and many mild and moderate crude words, and Little Tree sometimes repeats his foul words. It is heartening to observe the love which Little Tree and his grandparents share and their reverence for nature, but the foul language and deliberate demeaning portrayal of Christians is inexcusable.

Preview Reviewer: John Evans
Paramount Pictures, c/o Viacom Inc.,1515 Broadway, NY, NY 10036

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many(14) Times-Mild 10, Moderate 4(SOB, some spoken by boy)

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: Several(5) Times-(GD 5, some spoken by boy)

Violence: Several Times-Moderate (Dogs attack men, father whips young daughter, man hits boy in bed, teacher hits boy with rod, man bitten by snake)

Sex: None

Nudity: Once (Nude buttocks of boy seen in shower)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Few Times (Men taste samples of moonshine whiskey)

Other: White settlers and soldiers described as cruel, man uses boy in illegal whiskey business, Christian preacher and congregation portrayed as silly and ignorant and one Christian as dishonest, man uses foul language, but tells boy not to, confession of sin in church portrayed comically, Native American religious beliefs taught to young boy, Christian teachers portrayed as cruel, boy passes gas.

Running Time: 157 minutes
Intended Audience: 8 years and older

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