Incident at Ogala | Chicago Reader

Incident at Ogala

A PBS-style documentary by Michael Apted (35 Up, Thunderheart) about the notorious “Pine Ridge incident” of June 1975, when two FBI agents illegally drove onto an Indian reservation and were killed in a shoot-out, along with a Native American. The deaths of the agents led to the biggest manhunt in the history of the FBI and the protracted persecution of one individual, Leonard Peltier, who's still serving a life sentence. Narrated by executive producer Robert Redford, this is certainly compelling for the information it has to impart, and one would like to think that it might help change an intolerable situation. But the conventionality of the overall format—talking heads (some of which are fascinating), sound bites, and re-creations a la The Thin Blue Line—and the film's tendency to turn everything into a mystery-story narrative and lose itself in trivial details render the material familiar and banal. What emerges is well-intentioned liberal head shaking, very little analysis, and no real discomfort for the spectator—in other words, business as usual (1992).

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