Johnny Depp's Tonto at front-row-center in new 'Lone Ranger' film
Native American character was heroic, albeit fulfilling a stereotype, some argue
When the masked cowboy hero the Lone ranger first galloped across movie screens, he was always accompanied by his faithful Native American friend Tonto. The character of Tonto, played by Jay Silverheels, was an anomaly in American film: an Indian hero, albeit one who fulfilled stereotypes as being stoic and somewhat subservient to the white man. This will change in the new "The Lone Ranger" film to be released this week. Johnny Depp, who plays Tonto will remain resolutely in the center of the action.
When Johnny Depp daubs on the war paint in the latest movie version of "The Lone Ranger," he'll be using the same offbeat charm as his Captain Jack Sparrow in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise - and Tonto will be the brains of the operation.
In the film's opening scene, Tonto directs an escape from outlaws while a mask-less and painfully naïve Lone Ranger, played by Armie Hammer is unsure at the outset that he was even in danger.
For the new incarnation, director Gore Verbinski wanted to update the story by making Tonto more relevant than just a sidekick. Once the idea was hatched to make him the narrator, "it opened a lot of doors" in terms of storytelling, he said.
Audiences for the new film get an origin tale of how former lawman John Reid, the Lone Ranger, came to fight injustice in the Old West.
"This is not history told from your radio station, your movie studio or your network," Verbinski said. "It's told from Tonto and his memory - and his memory may be questionable."
A Native American consultant was used on the set, Verbinski said, adding that they also spoke with various tribes to get certain details correct.
Depp was anxious to be onboard, as he was told from an early age that he was part Native American.
Since production on the Disney film has wrapped, the actor has gone on to strengthen his ties to the community. Last year, Depp was named honorary member of the Comanche Nation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and he also served as grand marshal at the Comanche Nation Fair in Oklahoma.
At Depp's request, proceeds from the film's $1,000-per-ticket gala premiere at Southern California's Disneyland resort last week supported the American Indian College Fund.
On a more negative note - there is a lot of negative buzz surrounding the film. Early screenings have left many critics dismissing Depp's "The Lone Ranger" as "boring" and "uninspired."
© 2013, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
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