Disenchanted after being wounded in the American Civil War, Lt Dunbar (Costner) is assigned to a frontier outpost. Finding nothing but a deserted fort and left to his own devices, Dunbar gradually gains the friendship and trust of both a wolf and the Sioux Indians. Won over by the native Americans' love of the land, the honourable soldier joins in their buffalo hunt, courts a white woman the tribe adopted in childhood, transfers allegiance from predatory white man to peaceful Indian, and discovers en route his true self. At three hours long, and with a largely Indian cast delivering (subtitled) Lakota dialogue, Costner's debut as a director is a genuinely, impressively epic Western. It may lack complexity and political sophistication - the Sioux are a mite sentimentalised, the US Cavalry too obviously ignorant bigots, and Costner's two-dimensional hero too prone to cute pratfalls - but its sentiments are conspicuously sincere and its dramatic sweep hugely confident. Historical and cultural authenticity is virtually an end in itself, and although the last half-hour founders in repeated farewells, it looks great. Once you're sucked into the leisurely narrative, it's hard to resist.