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The Education of Little Tree

PG Released Dec 25, 1997 1h 52m Drama List
59% Tomatometer 17 Reviews 75% Audience Score 1,000+ Ratings
During the Great Depression, 8-year-old Native American Little Tree (Joseph Ashton) loses his mother and father. Little Tree is sent to live in the Smokey Mountains with his grandparents (James Cromwell, Tantoo Cardinal), who show the young boy how to live in the wilderness. They introduce him to Willow John (Graham Greene), a medicine man who teaches Little Tree about his Cherokee heritage. But when the local government makes the boy attend a state school, his world is turned upside down. Read More Read Less
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Critics Reviews

View All (17) Critics Reviews
Lisa Schwarzbaum Entertainment Weekly Rated: C- Sep 7, 2011 Full Review Emanuel Levy Variety Earnest but evocative, and in moments touching, chronicle of the turbulent childhood of a Cherokee orphan during the Depression. Rated: 3/4 Jun 26, 2006 Full Review Globe and Mail Rated: 2.5/4 Apr 12, 2002 Full Review Michael Dequina TheMovieReport.com Builds an honest, natural poignance that would not have been achieved through hollow melodramatics. Rated: 3/4 Mar 8, 2009 Full Review Robert Roten Laramie Movie Scope A compelling, mostly positive story, despite Little Tree's bad luck. Rated: B May 5, 2006 Full Review Emanuel Levy EmanuelLevy.Com Rated: 2/5 Jul 3, 2005 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Audience Member sentimental and poignant. get some idea of how native Americans are treated by the white people - forced education etc. backdrop of smoky mountains and relationship of little tree and his grandparents are outstanding. it is that sad that this was a book written by a white supremacist and KKK member. " Author Sherman Alexie has said "Little Tree "is a lovely little book, and I sometimes wonder if it is an act of romantic atonement by a guilt-ridden White supremacist, but ultimately I think it is the racial hypocrisy of a White supremacist"." Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/20/23 Full Review Ken R While there's much to admire within this very good looking and thoughtful production, a closer look at its origins un-revels much of its good work. At first impression, it comes across as a true biography (as the author claimed it to be) but it is a fabrication. Taken as fiction its fine but let's not allow any glorification of blatant lies. Its first undoing is tending to be based on a fictional book written by known compulsive liar Forrest Carter, he claimed to be the orphan of Cherokee parents but this was proven to be a just another of his many lies. Carter was an ex Ku Klux Clan leader who indulged in many violent incidents. He was also a speechwriter for Democratic presidential contender, Governor George Wallace, at the time both men were confirmed racists, and shameless segregationalists. While the writer might have been attempting to atone for many past sins (and that's admirable) it casts a very bad light on this productions handling of the fake elements of the overall story. Secondly; the appalling stereotypical way the whites are depicted is far too obviously a set-up, a contrivance - all are either nasty, hypocritical, bigoted buffoons or overly obvious white trash. Thirdly; Little Trees ‘Education' while with his Grandparents mostly consisted of running an illegal Whisky Still – there are many lost opportunities here for other higher learning. Screenplay writer/director Richard Friedenberg, along with co-writer Earle Hamner Jr (The Walton's TV series) seem to have ignored several important factual elements with this project. There's much to atone for with the genocide of the American Natives and some of what's depicted here is heart-wrenchingly true. But, to present this story, dressed as if in its original claim of fact – from the pen of a dishonest author, is not the best way to earn any viewer respect. What should have been a superb historical statement ends up as an emotionally manipulative, fictional endeavour. Visually lush, with some strong performances to match (it's always good to see Graham Green on screen, although he seems to walk through this one like he knows it a sham) ‘Little Tree' certainly engages the viewer's emotions but could have been so much better if given a more honest treatment. Members of the Cherokee nation have openly denounced the so-called Cherokee teachings in Little Tree as inaccurate. The strikingly beautiful locations and photography, combined with Mark Isham's music, are valuable assets but it tends to be about 12 -15mins too long at nearly 2 hrs. Good looking but seems sadly based on highly suspect material. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/14/21 Full Review Audience Member Very good film that slipped through the popularity cracks back in 1997. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/23/23 Full Review Audience Member One of my favorites that rests in my video library to share when i can. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/01/23 Full Review Audience Member Way too real. parents grew up in this environment... made grandpa cry because his life was like Little Tree's. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/01/23 Full Review Audience Member Soul searching, manhood , cultural & inspiring. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/09/23 Full Review Read all reviews
The Education of Little Tree

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Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis During the Great Depression, 8-year-old Native American Little Tree (Joseph Ashton) loses his mother and father. Little Tree is sent to live in the Smokey Mountains with his grandparents (James Cromwell, Tantoo Cardinal), who show the young boy how to live in the wilderness. They introduce him to Willow John (Graham Greene), a medicine man who teaches Little Tree about his Cherokee heritage. But when the local government makes the boy attend a state school, his world is turned upside down.
Director
Richard Friedenberg
Producer
Jake Eberts
Distributor
Paramount Pictures
Production Co
Paramount
Rating
PG
Genre
Drama
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
Dec 25, 1997, Wide
Release Date (Streaming)
Oct 12, 2010
Box Office (Gross USA)
$320.7K
Runtime
1h 52m
Sound Mix
Surround
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