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By Stina Chyn | April 8, 2004

On June 25, 1876 General Custer and his men were defeated by Native Americans of the Sioux tribe at the Battle of Little Big Horn. Although archeological digs have answered questions about exactly how and where certain portions of the battle took place, people still wonder “what really happened that day?” Gabe Torres’s short film “Last Stand” ponders the same thing, but it seeks to find answers that address ideology rather than historical accuracy.

Jason London plays Jim Cavanaugh, a Private of the 7th US Calvary, on trial for murder and for being a deserter. “Last Stand” begins in a courtroom, and through Cavanaugh’s narration, the film goes back to the day of Custer’s Last Stand. London’s character is wounded in the battle. He avoids capture because a Native American boy, Goes Alone (Joseph Saul), lets him escape.

Cavanaugh and the boy develop a sense of mutual respect, each realizing that the other person bears no ill will.

“Last Stand” touches on two significant points. In terms of the story, it discusses the concept of Subject/Other and the subjectivity behind perceiving a specific group of people as savage. Torres’s film also conveys the importance of human communication, especially during times of suffering. As Cavanaugh rests against a tree, weak from loss of blood, he starts talking to Goes Alone. He knows that the boy can’t understand English, but he doesn’t care. When people are in pain, the desire to speak to another person is so strong that even a language barrier won’t stand in the way.

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