Son of the Morning Star (film)

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This article is about the 1991 television mini-series. For the novel by Evan S. Connell, see Son of the Morning Star.
Son of the Morning Star
Son of the Morning Star FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by Mike Robe
Written by Evan S. Connell (book)
Melissa Mathison
Starring Gary Cole
Music by Craig Safan
Cinematography Kees Van Oostrum
Edited by Benjamin A. Weissman
Distributed by ABC
Release dates
February 3, 1991
Running time
187 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Son of the Morning Star (1991) is a two-part TV miniseries released by Chrysalis based on Evan S. Connell's best-selling book of the same name.[1] It starred Gary Cole (General Custer) and featured Dean Stockwell (General Philip Sheridan), Rosanna Arquette (Elizabeth Custer), Rodney A. Grant (Crazy Horse), Nick Ramus (Red Cloud), Buffy Sainte-Marie (voice of Kate Bighead), and Floyd Red Crow Westerman (Sitting Bull).


The film, in two parts, begins in 1876 when the Terry-Gibbon column relieves the remnants of the 7th Cavalry that had survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn. They discover Custer's battalion has been annihilated, and the film 'flashes back' and tells Custer's story from the point of view/narrative of his wife, Elizabeth, beginning with the Kansas campaign of the mid-1860s.[2]

Concurrently, the Indian perspective is told through the narrative of Kate Bighead, a young Cheyenne woman, who encountered Custer on several occasions. Kate Bighead's narrative is also used to describe events like the Fetterman Massacre and the Battle of Washita River, as is Elizabeth Custer's, to provide a balanced point of view.[2]



The release of the mini-series closely followed the theatrical release of Dances with Wolves. Although Kevin Costner was the first choice to play Custer, the role eventually went to Gary Cole.[1] The movie was partially filmed on private property near the Little Bighorn National Monument in Montana near Billings, where a fort was built at a cost of $200,000.[3] Filming also took place in South Dakota at Buffalo Gap and Badlands National Park.[4] 400 horses and 150 Native Americans were employed for the shoot. The 7th Cavalry consisted of 100 historical re-enactors who also doubled as technical advisers for the film.[3]


Variety praised the production as "a master work", with special mentions of quality in production, direction, cinematography and editing.[5] New York magazine drew a comparison between the recently released Dances with Woives stating that the Son of the Morning Star version of Custer as "deals in delusions instead of dreams".[2]

The mini-series won four 1991 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Achievement In Costuming for a Miniseries or a Special, Outstanding Achievement In Makeup for a Miniseries or a Special, Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries or a Special and Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Miniseries or a Special. It was also nominated, but did not win, for Outstanding Achievement In Hairstyling for a Miniseries or a Special.[6]


  1. ^ a b Niemi, Robert (2006). History in the Media: Film and Television. ABC-CLIO. p. 29,30. ISBN 978-1576079522. 
  2. ^ a b c Leonard, John (February 4, 1991). "Home of the Braves". New York: 41. 
  3. ^ a b King, Susan (February 3, 1991). "Dances With Custer : ABC's miniseries leading up to the famous last stand called for endurance". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Filming Locations of Son of the Morning Star". IMDb. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  5. ^ "ABC Miniseries Son of the Morning Star". Variety. February 1, 1991. 
  6. ^ "1991 Emmys for Son of the Morning Star". Primetime Emmys. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 

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