Kevin Costner hits back at “delicate” critics of his new film over Native American representation

"If people aren't willing to watch how something unfolds, I don't know what to say"

Kevin Costner has hit back at critics who have complained about the representation of Native Americans in his new film Horizon: An American Saga.

The movie is the first of four planned chapters, which tells a number of stories over the course of 12 years in the American West. But some critics have noted that the beginning of the film appears to perpetuate certain stereotypes about Indigenous people, initially representing them as brutal “savages” who attack the white townsfolk.

However, as the film progresses, it delves deeper into the lives of the Native characters and the struggles imposed upon them by the white settlers.

In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Costner, who stars in, directs and co-writes the western epic, expressed his frustration with the critics who have been too impatient to see how the story unfolds.


“I’m just so tired of everybody trying to be so delicate about things,” he said. “[The Native Americans] were pissed. I don’t feel like I have to [hold someone’s hand]. ‘Oh my God, here we go again. Indians are the bad guys.’ Of course, they’re not the bad guys. But if you’re going to be limited, if people aren’t willing to watch how something unfolds, I don’t know what to say.”

Costner said he also wanted to show the strife between different tribes that arose due to the Western expansion. “That was brought about because of those tents [of settlers],” he explained. “Those people can’t cross the river there, so they have to go to the left, or they have to go to the right, and it brings in that contact with other tribes.”


He added that he hopes audiences will understand that showcasing the anger of Native Americans is part of representing the reality of their stories as complex characters.

“I’m not interested in spoon-feeding people,” he said of his approach. “The reality is it was one tent too many, and the [Apache] went down there, and they tried to wipe the [settlers] out. Their anger is they’re not able to hunt. They have to go and interact with tribes when they had long ago settled those issues.”

Kevin Costner
Kevin Costner at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival. CREDIT: Getty/Gareth Cattermole

The film, which also stars Sienna Miller, Jamie Campbell Bower, Sam Worthington, Ella Hunt, Isabelle Fuhrman and Jena Malone, was mostly financed by Costner himself, with the actor spending over $98million (£77million) of his own money on the project.


Following its premiere at Cannes in May, Horizon was largely panned by critics, with The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney describing the film as a “a clumsy slog beyond saving.”

Peter Bradshaw gave the film just two stars in his review for The GuardianHe wrote: “The film moseys blankly along and, aside from some mildly diverting moments, it spends 180 keeping you guessing as to when and whether it is going to be interesting.”

In a more positive review, however, The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin awarded it four stars and wrote: “The film is earnest yet hopeful, with crisply drawn characters – but perhaps its full grandeur won’t be fully realised until part two.”

Despite the mostly negative reviews, the film did receive a lengthy, seven-minute standing ovation at Cannes, leaving Costner visibly emotional.

Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1 is now in cinemas. Chapter 2 will be released on August 16.

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