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Old 09-04-2010, 12:11 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Movies and books about characters who "go native" (ala Avatar & Dances With Wolves)

A friend of mine is planning a comparative literature/pop culture course for this coming quarter in which she makes use of parallels between pop-culture movies and books (i.e. books not necessarily of any great literary value but extremely popular) and works of "serious literature". One of the movies she's focused on is Avatar (or as I call it Dances With Smurfcats) and is wanting to assign a comparison/contrast between this or Dances With Wolves (student's choice) and or other films and movies in which a character goes to live in a more technologically primitive culture and basically goes native, ultimately being more at home in that culture than their own.

She's compiling a long list for students to choose from and has asked me for suggestions. Here's what we've come up with so far:

The Paradise Syndrome episode of STAR TREK (in which Kirk falls in love with/marries/impregnates a Space Injun

The Inner Light episode of ST:TNG in which Picard fights then accepts a new identity as a citizen of another planet where he has a family and spends a lifetime

Avatar and Dances With Wolves of course

Dune (novels, movie and or miniseries)

Lawrence of Arabia (the movie anyway- I've never read Lawrence's own book so I honestly don't know how many liberties were taken)

Hawaii (the movie more than the book [of which the Abner & Jerusha Hale plotline was a very small part]- both characters retain their Christianity but Jerusha [Julie Andrews] comes to see the beauty of the Hawaiian culture while Abner goes on a wild arc but ultimately becomes their staunches defender)

Pocahontas- the Disney movie (the true story is obviously completely different and a whole lot more complicated, but mindless pop-culture is allowed)

Little Big Man (novels and movie)- Jack Crabbe alternates between the white and the Cheyenne worlds- almost hard to say which he's more at home in.

Robin McKinley's Blue Sword- I know nothing about this one but it was my friend's suggestion

Any other suggestions? It can be movies, graphic novels, short stories, TV, medieval or ancient so long as it's relevant.
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Old 09-04-2010, 12:31 PM
cckerberos cckerberos is offline
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The Last Samurai
Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now - a bit of a stretch, I'll admit
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Old 09-04-2010, 12:35 PM
Typo Knig Typo Knig is offline
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Stranger in a Strange Land, although Mike was raised by natives, as opposed to choosing to "go native" as an adult.
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Old 09-04-2010, 12:42 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Originally Posted by cckerberos
Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now - a bit of a stretch, I'll admit
HoD may be a stretch but Apocalypse Now isn't much of a stretch at all.
And speaking of Last Samurai, Shogun is perfect.

Thanks.
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Old 09-04-2010, 01:15 PM
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A Man Called Horse and the various sequels.
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Old 09-04-2010, 01:18 PM
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The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter is a youth novel about a white child who was raised by Native Americans and as a teenager was sent back to live in white society. He doesn't feel he belongs there and tries to get back to his tribe.

At Play in the Fields of the Lord - I've only seen the movie, but it's based on a novel. It's about some white missionaries who go to the Amazon rainforest to spread the gospel to the natives. In the movie, Tom Berenger plays an American who is living with the local tribe and has gone native.
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Old 09-04-2010, 01:19 PM
Hunter Hawk Hunter Hawk is offline
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Deathworld is similar to Avatar.

Some of Leigh Brackett's "Mars" stories might fit.

I figure the majority of James Tiptree Jr's output would also fall into this category ("teh humanz are teh EVIL!!!"), but I hate Tiptree and have tried to erase all memory of her works from my mind so I can't give you specific suggestions.

Oh, and then maybe Zenna Henderson's "People" stories.

ETA: And, to state the obvious, Superman and/or Gladiator. The latter would be more interesting.

Last edited by Hunter Hawk; 09-04-2010 at 01:22 PM.
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Old 09-04-2010, 01:27 PM
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Farewell to the King with Nick Nolte.
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Old 09-04-2010, 01:32 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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CJ Cherryh has made a career out of it, at least in her science fiction (I don't care for her fantasy, so I don't know if that's the case there or not.) Try The Pride of Chanur or Foreigner.
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Old 09-04-2010, 01:38 PM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is offline
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Never Cry Wolf, a cross-species example.
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Old 09-04-2010, 01:39 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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CJ Cherryh has made a career out of it, at least in her science fiction (I don't care for her fantasy, so I don't know if that's the case there or not.) Try The Pride of Chanur or Foreigner.
For sure. She absolutely loves fish-out-of-water anthropological sf. For a singleton, I'd say 40,000 in Gehenna is the best in this mode, because it easily the most alien of her alien cultures.

Last edited by Tamerlane; 09-04-2010 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 09-04-2010, 02:12 PM
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Brave New World is another good example, though the main character doesn't "go native" until near the end of the book (most of it is him gradually coming to see the flaws in his own society).
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Old 09-04-2010, 03:52 PM
thelurkinghorror thelurkinghorror is online now
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Knock yourself out.

What happened in Brave New World? John the Savage did the opposite (Going Tarzan?) I don't remember it happening to Bernard, he goes exile.
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Old 09-04-2010, 04:26 PM
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I haven't read it since high school; you may be right.
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Old 09-04-2010, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Tangent View Post
At Play in the Fields of the Lord - I've only seen the movie, but it's based on a novel. It's about some white missionaries who go to the Amazon rainforest to spread the gospel to the natives. In the movie, Tom Berenger plays an American who is living with the local tribe and has gone native.
That reminds me of Last of the Dogmen, also staring Tom Berenger
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Old 09-04-2010, 05:53 PM
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Knock yourself out.

What happened in Brave New World? John the Savage did the opposite (Going Tarzan?) I don't remember it happening to Bernard, he goes exile.
John the Savage tried to live in isolation in an automated lighthouse, but he was simply too unusual for the strictly-controlled society to leave alone. They kept visiting him in larger and larger numbers, fascinated by his behaviour, emulating it. At the climax, love interest Lenina Crowne shows up as well, John physically attacks her, the crowd goes wild and the evening passes in a crazed violent orgy in which John participates. When he wakes up the next day, still feeling the effects of the Soma, his shame and regret is overpowering.

When the fans show up to see what he'll do next, they find him hanging. He went native, sort-of, for one night and couldn't bear it.

Bernard just got packed off to an island which, it is implied, isn't really all that bad a fate.
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Old 09-04-2010, 06:09 PM
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The Coneheads

Also, my namesake the novel Icerigger by Alan Dean Foster is about a small group adapting to a primitive culture.

Last edited by Icerigger; 09-04-2010 at 06:12 PM.
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Old 09-04-2010, 06:31 PM
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The Coneheads

Also, my namesake the novel Icerigger by Alan Dean Foster is about a small group adapting to a primitive culture.
By the same author:Sentenced to Prism where the main character quite literally goes native.
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Old 09-04-2010, 06:55 PM
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Noman's "Gor" books have the protagonist going native in pretty short order.
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Old 09-04-2010, 07:58 PM
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The Emerald Forest
  #21  
Old 09-05-2010, 04:25 AM
devilsknew devilsknew is offline
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Mutiny on the Bounty

I also suppose the general "Fallen" Angel/God/demigod theme is a parallel to the "going native" theme. Sort of like Wings of Desire and its remake, City of Angels. Most recently, I suppose the film "Legion" fits the bill.

The true story of the founding of Liberia and the Americo-Liberians might make an interesting case study of repatriation and going native with a different twist. I think there also might be some books from the sixties or seventies by some African American authors who experimented with repatriation to Africa... I think there was one pretty popular book about this but I don't remember the title or author.
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Old 09-05-2010, 04:58 AM
devilsknew devilsknew is offline
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Meet the Applegates
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Old 09-05-2010, 12:34 PM
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"Black Robe" is a film that came out about the same time as "Dances with Wolves" and treads similar ground; far more accurately and interestingly, in my opinion. I used to use scenes when teaching Colonial History.

Sir Richard Francis Burton, the Victorian explorer/writer/sexual adventurer is considered to have popularized the notion of "Going Native." He translated the Kama Sutra and went on Hajj disguised as a Muslim in violation of Islamic dictates as examples of some of his highjinks. He was one of the inspirations for George Macdonald Frazier's Harry Flashman who, in a long series of novels went native all around the world.

Mark Twain, too, dabbled with the notion of sending Tom and Huck "among the Indians." The work was never completed, but was published in "Life" Magazine, I believe in the early 1960s. I found a copy at a flea market in the late 1970s, early '80s when I was a kid and read it. The editor of the piece wrote that the reason Twain didn't finish the work is that he knew the usual outcome for white captives of Plains Indians and didn't think that such information was appropriate for young readers. Fortunately we have no such qualms these days.

Also, "Little Big Man."
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Old 09-05-2010, 02:02 PM
bibliophage bibliophage is offline
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Lord Jim
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Old 09-05-2010, 02:52 PM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is online now
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The TOM STRONG comic book was a twist on the Doc Savage story: the idea was that Tom's experimentalist Victorian-era parents wanted to raise a perfect child away from society's corrupting influences, cultivating borderline superhuman athleticism while supplying a thorough scientific education.

Problem #1: the island they chose turned out to be inhabited by a tribe of spear-toting folks. This winds up solving Problem #2: Tom's mom and dad get killed in an earthquake, at which point the brainy eight-year-old gets taken in by said tribe; the phrase "going native" gets explicitly applied to what comes next, with our hero speaking their language and participating in their rituals and learning how to use the scent of local fruits when hunting the local birds and so on, eventually marrying the chief's daughter not long after both undergo that culture's vision-quest-by-way-of-hallucinogenic-root -- ah, you get the idea.
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Old 09-05-2010, 03:28 PM
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Quote:
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Noman's "Gor" books have the protagonist going native in pretty short order.
Volumes 1 thru 5 have Tarl Cabot acting pretty much the typical Earthman among barbarians, but with some foreshadowing; beginning with book 6, he goes downhill (or uphill, depending on your sympathies) quickly. This makes him a lot less puzzling to his fellow men, many of whom found him slightly odd in the earlier books.

I doubt it's going to fly as a subject for serious study, though.
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Old 09-05-2010, 04:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astro View Post
Noman's "Gor" books have the protagonist going native in pretty short order.
Volumes 1 thru 5 have Tarl Cabot acting pretty much the typical Earthman among barbarians, but with some foreshadowing; beginning with book 6, he goes downhill (or uphill, depending on your sympathies) quickly. This makes him a lot less puzzling to his fellow men, many of whom found him slightly odd in the earlier books.

I doubt it's going to fly as a subject for serious study, though.
Some people are trying.
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Old 09-05-2010, 05:51 PM
hanna the curious hanna the curious is offline
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Clifford Simak's short(-ish) story, Desertion, is probably the ultimate "go native". I think most of his stuff is out of print but shows up in collections from time to time.
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Old 09-05-2010, 06:56 PM
devilsknew devilsknew is offline
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astro View Post
Noman's "Gor" books have the protagonist going native in pretty short order.
Volumes 1 thru 5 have Tarl Cabot acting pretty much the typical Earthman among barbarians, but with some foreshadowing; beginning with book 6, he goes downhill (or uphill, depending on your sympathies) quickly. This makes him a lot less puzzling to his fellow men, many of whom found him slightly odd in the earlier books.

I doubt it's going to fly as a subject for serious study, though.
Never read any of the Gor books but from some of the descriptions it sounds like the Warlord comic might have borrowed from it. I read the silver era classic, but I guess DC brought it back and a new warlord action figure is coming out this fall.
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Old 09-05-2010, 07:04 PM
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Tarzan of the Apes has the main character go bush pretty much from scratch.
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Old 09-05-2010, 07:05 PM
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The Searchers deals with this theme, although the character who goes native is not the protagonist. But it's probably still worth viewing because it shows the attitudes that society holds about people going native.
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Old 09-05-2010, 07:25 PM
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The Searchers deals with this theme, although the character who goes native is not the protagonist. But it's probably still worth viewing because it shows the attitudes that society holds about people going native.
"The Searchers" was inspired by a true story that is far more interesting. (I'm not knocking the movie.) I happen to have read about just it a few weeks ago.

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S.C. Gwyne. Highly recommended.

.

Last edited by TreacherousCretin; 09-05-2010 at 07:26 PM.
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Old 09-05-2010, 07:42 PM
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I should have mentioned that Quanah Parker, who is the protagonist of the book I just mentioned, was the biracial son of the kidnapped girl who went native. Her eventual "rescue" 20+ years later was little more than a second kidnapping, however well-intentioned it might have been; it was a heartbreaking tragedy, and at times is not easy to read about.


.
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Old 09-05-2010, 08:17 PM
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Andre Norton's novel "Judgement on Janus" deals with a planet where Earth settlers have pretty much wiped out the native intelligent species, but the natives leave "traps" in the forest for unsuspecting settlers to find. The traps transform the settlers into the natives, and the story is told from the viewpoint of a settler who has been caught in such a trap. Avatar reminded me a lot of it, possibly an inspiration though clearly not plagiarism.

And of course in District 9 the protagonist becomes a prawn.
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Old 09-05-2010, 08:42 PM
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"Ghosts of Mars" is another such story, a movie in which the Martians take over the human settlers on Mars and either revert them to primal savages, or make them into Martian warriors fighting the humans, or both, I'm not really sure on that point.

"Quatermass and the Pit" which clearly inspired "Ghosts of Mars," has a similar theme, much more subtly realized, but also has a subtle, creepy horror that is still effective half a century after it was made.
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Old 09-05-2010, 08:52 PM
devilsknew devilsknew is offline
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Man, there was maybe the best weapon pairing ever, in the Silver Age Warlord. A non-standard airforce Sr-71 ,pilot's choice, .44 Auto-Mag and a magical sword named Hellfire which cannot be drawn from scabbard without drawing blood... even the blood of the wielder to satiate.

Last edited by devilsknew; 09-05-2010 at 08:53 PM.
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Old 09-05-2010, 08:54 PM
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"Jeremiah Johnson" should be given consideration.
  #38  
Old 09-05-2010, 10:22 PM
devilsknew devilsknew is offline
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In that Justice League Unlimited Triple Pack they have mislabeled the antagonist. It is an action figure tri-pack that features Supergirl, Warlord, and Deimos... not Demos. Bad data entry.
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Old 09-05-2010, 10:27 PM
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You can watch Anthony Hopkins as an academic who "went native" with a troop of gorillas in the movie Instinct.
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Old 09-05-2010, 11:09 PM
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Same idea, different roles in Planet of the Apes - Cornelius and Dr. Zira are going "native" with Charlton Heston character
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