Who is narrating? It's disconcerting to be listening to a voice that's familiar but the audience isn't sure whose voice it is. It distracts from the message. The narrator needs to be identified up front, to avoid that distraction. We only find out in the credit that we DO know that voice.
The same is true for unidentified speakers. Perhaps it's not necessary to show their tag line in every frame, but certainly necessary when they're first introduced.
What about the sea of children?
Ross's style detracts from the story. Why is she involved? What is she supposed to bring to the production? She seems to be plunked in, but why?
Reenacting vanishing Americans - it's overdone, by now.
Exploiting emotional scenes trivializes the story. There's much too much of that in this production.
It's really problematic to see Mr. Windy Boy's pain on a level that makes us voyeurs. The difficulty in these scenes makes the entire film off-limits. If we had the chance to visit with him in a good way and then travel to that raw place he goes, with him, we would have the right to share in his pain but we don't and we shouldn't. The consistent, continual exploitation of this brave man is shameful. So many times we wondered, "Why didn't they turn off the camera?" The intimacy of his despair makes us feel like we shouldn't be there. We are trespassing too much. As he appears in later segments, we get knots in our stomachs and wonder why the tape keeps rolling? After a couple of times on camera, we feel it's a dignity issue.
Very good historical background and development of how we got to the schools. Very sloppy use of photos in some places. For example, an 1886 photo of Geronimo's scouts imprisoned at Ft. Pickens, Florida is used to show the 1872 Ft. Marion prisoners of St. Augustine. Photos of Wounded Knee creep in unidentified and unexplained.
During interviews of unidentified speakers, there's an annoying flashing like a lightening strike that feels like some kind of technical glitch. It's an intrusion that seems strategically placed, but why? Whatever the reason, it doesn't work. It's almost as if the filmmakers are being punished for exploiting their interviewees. The interjection of amateurish sound effects doesn't work either. The snip snip of the scissors designed to illustrate hair cutting and the clanging of bells to expound a sense of regimentation is uneven.
Great segment on the "man-on-the-band-stand." This is the single most valuable piece of this documentary. It's the only new information we get, because everything else has been done, and has been done better. "In the White Man's Image" was the ground-breaking film produced in 1994 and it hasn't been improved on with this production.
There's no distinction about various residential schools, what distinguished them from each other? They're all painted with the same brush. There's much too much jumping around. The film is disjointed and too long. There is a powwow scene that's completely irrelevant and confusing. Where did that come from? What's that about?