Elsa Zamparelli is the woman who worked to create the look of every actor and actress you see on screen throughout the duration of the film. The costume designer was even nominated for the Academy Award for Best Costume at the 63rd annual show.
Zamparelli went on to work on a few other films afterward, including “The Last of the Mohicans” in 1992 and “The Order” in 2001. It really helped that she had Cathy Smith making the costumes, as she’d spent the majority of her adult life-restoring Native American artifacts, so she knew what she was doing!
The Other Bison
Aside from the 3,500-real buffalo, including two domesticated ones (one of which went on to become the mascot of a South Dakota meat company,) they needed one more bison – and this one would cost them a pretty penny.
No buffalo comes cheap, especially a trained one, but in order to make production easier and avoid harming any animals, they ordered an animatronic buffalo – one that cost them $250,000.
Mary McDonnell’s Breakthrough Role
Actress Mary McDonnell may have seemed like a fresh face in the acting world when it came to watching her in the film, but she was no novice to the industry. She’d spend more than two decades working in theater and television before landing her breakthrough role as Stands with a Fist.
But what a breakthrough it was, as McDonnell won both an Academy Award and Golden Globe for her work in the film. She went on to receive two Primetime Emmys for guest appearances she held on "The Closer" and "ER. "
"The Fort Hays" movie set, which houses several of the buildings used in the award-winning flick, was packed up and relocated to Rapid City, where it and the South Dakota Movie Museum across the street can be toured for free.
After you walk around the set and get up close and personal with the desk where the major made his orders for Lt. Dunbar, you can grab a bite to eat or catch a demonstration at the sawmill or in the shop.
The Yellow Tape
Inside of the office building of the Fort Hays set sits a very important piece of filmmaking history. A simple line of tape marks the floor, wherein the very mark where Kevin Costner stood, and gave his epic, “I’ve always wanted to see the frontier, before it’s gone,” speech.
And, if you look to your side, you’ll see the hole in the glass from the bullet that killed the Major.