Watch The Sign of the Beaver
- 1 hr 33 min
The classic Elizabeth George Speare novel The Sign of the Beaver was adapted into the 1997 movie Keeping the Promise, which was made for television and directed by Sheldon Larry. The 95-minute-long movie is family-friendly, focusing on the efforts of 13-year-old Matt to keep the family homestead going while his father goes to collect his mother and siblings. While it deals with the harsh conditions these colonists had to face, it is more deeply about the friendship that develops between Matt and a Penobscot Indian named Attean. Matt is played by Brendan Fletcher, while his parents are portrayed by Annette O'Toole and Keith Carradine. The movie portrays the threats that Matt fields due to weather and hostile neighbors as well as personal injury. It also shows the complex interplay of relationship between colonists and the populations of natives nearby. After Matt hurts himself, he is unable to continue caring for himself alone, so neighboring Indian Sakniss offers to bring him provisions in exchange for teaching his grandson how to read English. While this arrangement is initially distasteful to both boys, especially Attean, the film shows the process of them gradually learning to understand each other's point of view. It differs from the book in many ways, but this central relationship remains vitally important. Ultimately, as the months pass and his family does not return, Matt must make the decision whether to remain where he is or move on with Attean and his people, who are being driven out by settlers. The movie is of historical interest because it focuses on a particular point in American colonization. It shows the struggles that many settlers had to deal with as well as the troubles that came to the natives as a result of this colonization. Most of all, it shows how it is possible for two very different people to come to a point of friendship through a willingness to see each other's perspective.