Broken Rainbow

Watch Broken Rainbow

"There is no Word for Relocation in the Navajo Language; to Relocate is to Disappear and Never be Seen Again."
  • 1985
  • 1 hr 10 min
  • 6.7  (268)

Broken Rainbow is a powerful documentary-style film that explores the struggles of the Navajo people in the American Southwest. The movie was released in 1985 and directed by Victoria Mudd and Maria Florio, with narration by actor Martin Sheen. The film won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and it continues to be a moving and important account of the ongoing battle between Native Americans and the United States government.

The film begins by introducing the Navajo people and their long history in the Southwest. We see stunning footage of the landscape and hear from Navajo elders who talk about the importance of the land and the relationship between their people and the natural world. However, this idyllic existence is under threat from a government program to relocate the Navajo people from their homes in Arizona and New Mexico to a reservation in Nevada.

The relocation program has been met with resistance from the Navajo people, who have a strong attachment to their homes and the land they've lived on for centuries. The film introduces us to several Navajo families who are facing eviction, including a woman named Mary Begay and her husband, a World War II veteran. They are being forced to leave their home to make way for a coal strip mine run by the Peabody Coal company.

The filmmakers follow Mary and her family as they are forced to leave their land and move to a reservation in Nevada. We see the difficulties they face in adjusting to their new home and the psychological toll the relocation takes on them. The film emphasizes the injustice of the government's actions and the disregard for Navajo culture and traditions.

Throughout the movie, we hear from a range of voices, including Navajo activists, environmentalists, and government officials. One of the most compelling figures in the film is Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Native American musician and activist who speaks passionately about the importance of the land and the need to protect it from destruction.

The film also highlights the role of the media in shaping public opinion about the relocation program. The Navajo people are often portrayed as uneducated and backward, and the government's actions are justified as a way to bring progress to the region. The filmmakers challenge these stereotypes and show the resilience and determination of the Navajo people in standing up for their rights.

One of the most moving scenes in the film is when Mary Begay and her family return to their old home, now a barren strip mine. Mary sings a traditional Navajo song in mourning for the loss of her land, and the scene is a powerful indictment of the government's actions.

One of the film's strengths is its stunning cinematography, which captures the beauty of the Southwest and the deep spiritual connection between the Navajo people and their land. The filmmakers also make effective use of archival footage and interviews to provide historical context and highlight the long-standing injustices faced by Native Americans.

In the end, Broken Rainbow is a sobering reminder of the ongoing struggle for justice and respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples in the United States. The film is both a call to action and a testament to the resilience and dignity of the Navajo people. It remains a powerful and relevant work, and a vital document of American history.

Broken Rainbow
Broken Rainbow doesn't appear to be available from any streaming services.
Add this movie to your Watchlist to get notified when it's available.
  • Release Date
  • Runtime
    1 hr 10 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.7  (268)