Epic composer John Barry put together the original score for the film that beautifully accompanied the nature scenes, as well as the other major songs; “the John Dunbar Theme,” “Love Theme,” which is used when Two Socks (the wolf) is on screen.
His music won him the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 1991. Barry’s career in composing spans more than five decades, and he’s created music for all sorts of major motion pictures, including 11 of the “James Bond” films.
While much of the film gets close to how things may have been around the time it was portrayed, there were some things that weren’t exactly historically accurate. Stands with a Fist was based on a real person, as was Dunbar, AKA the Christian missionary among the Pawnee.
One historian, Judith A. Boughter, also wrote, “the problem with Costner’s approach is that all of the Sioux are heroic, while the Pawnees are portrayed as stereotypical villains. Most accounts of Sioux-Pawnee relations see the Pawnee's number only 4,000 at that time, as victims of the more powerful Sioux.”
(No) Animal Cruelty
During the scene where buffalos are being skinned, one passerby became concerned with how authentic the shot looked and called the police. Authorities arrived, just to be met by the cast and crew of this multi-million-dollar film production.
When they showed up, they didn’t know what they were going to find and thought they might be dealing with dangerous people, so they had their guns drawn, ready for anything. But throughout the film, no animals were actually hurt for any of the scenes.
In and Out Buffalo
Filming the buffalo scene with over 3,000 of the animals, including the domesticated bison, took just over a week – but that isn’t a whole lot of time when you’re working with herds of wild animals. The crew rigged Mammoth, one of the domesticated buffalo, with a Steve Martinesque strap and made it look like the arrows were piercing his hide.
Everyone was pretty amazed that the eight-day shoot was fairly free of challenges, considering how much had gone into it. Well, all except Costner being thrown from his horse, that is.
Indoor Outdoor Feast
After the buffalo hunt, Dunbar joins the Sioux for a celebratory feast, where he becomes friends with Wind in His Hair. The scene is meant to look like it’s happening outdoors, but that’s only because the set was specifically designed to make us think that.
In reality, it’s actually happening within a Quonset hut. They planned to shoot it outside, but it was freezing at night, so they moved indoors to keep everyone comfortable, which they tried to do as much as possible, but couldn’t always achieve due to the weather.