Distinguished service in the Civil War wins Lt. John Dunbar (Costner) a post in the beautiful Dakota Territory close to the Lakota Sioux Indians. Dunbar gradually bonds with the Sioux, including "Kicking Bird" (Greene) and "Stands with a Fist" (McDonnell), a white woman orphaned early on and raised by the tribe. Soon, the white man's encroachment threatens the Sioux's way of life, and forces some major, fundamental choices on the conflicted Dunbar.
This epic Western is consistently engrossing and staggeringly beautiful as it details the tragic outcome of our expansion westward: the virtual annihilation of a proud society and culture. Costner has never been better as the most conflicted of men: a U.S. soldier converted to a way of life that is dying, due to the destruction and injustice wrought by his own countrymen. Nominated for 12 Oscars and winning five, "Dances" was an outstanding achievement for producer/director/star Costner, who personally took home well-earned Oscars for Best Picture and Direction.