Little Big Man
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Time Out saysPenn's adaptation of Thomas Berger's novel is an epic post-Western that sets out to demythologise its subject-matter through the eyes of Jack Crabb (Hoffman), either a 121-year-old hero who's seen it all or a phenomenal liar. Ambiguity, both towards fact and character, is the keynote, as Hoffman's protagonist is orphaned, adopted by Indians, returned to the whites as a conman, and finally acclaimed as the sole white survivor of Custer's downfall at Little Big Horn. It's a shaggy, picaresque tale, laden with off-beat but pertinent observations as Crabb exchanges cultures and bears witness to the white man's genocidal treatment of 'the human beings'. Parallels with Vietnam naturally abound, but finally it's a wryly ironic rewriting of American history that makes up for its occasionally facile debunking of heroic targets by means of vivid direction and effortless performances. Funny, humane, and a work of brave intelligence.