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Silent Tongue

Silent Tongue (1993) USA 1992 106 minutes. Directed by Sam Shepard.


  • Richard Harris - Prescott Roe
  • Alan Bates - Eamon McRee
  • River Phoenix - Talbot Roe
  • Sheila Tousey - Awbonnie / Ghost
  • Dermot Mulroney - Reeves McRee
  • Jeri Arredondo - Velada McCree
  • Tantoo Cardinal - Silent Tongue


Llano Estacado, 1873. After the death of his half Kiowa (Native American) wife, Awbonnie, in childbirth, Talbot Roe has gone mad. He refuses to leave his beloved one's corpse and watches her day and night, protecting her from vultures, forgetting everything else. To rouse him from this grieving, his father Prescott Roe decides to find Eamon McRee, Awbonnie's father.
An itinerant peddler and owner of the Medecine Show Band, this one had sold one of his two daughters as a revenge against their mother, Silent Tongue. Eamon had married her after raping her, giving her the two half-breed girls, but later on she'd left him to rejoin the Kiowa tribe.
Prescott Roe now proposes him to buy Velada, Awbonnie's young sister. McRee being hesitant and his son Reeves firmly refusing, Prescott finally captures her. McRee and his son pursue them, while Awbonnie's ghost tries to convince Talbot to let her go, nearly pushing him to commit suicide.
After Velada tried to escape on the way, Prescott makes a deal with her: if she can get his son out from his insane grieving, he'll give her the price he intended to pay to McRee, but she won't have to become Talbot's wife. As expected, Velada's resemblance with his departed wife allows her to catch his attention.
But Awbonnie's ghost also intervenes, asking her sister to do what Talbot refused to: burn her body to free her from the material world. Velada eventually does it, after Awbonnie threatened to kill her with Talbot.
In the same time, Eamon McRee and his son, still looking for Velada, are surrounded by the Kiowa, obviously seeking for revenge. Reeves McRee escapes, abandoning his father to his fate.


The movie is a French-US coproduction.


Other resources

  • Preview - March, April 1993 - report on the making of (added March 4, 2001)

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