Projections - Movie Reviews

The Education of Little Tree The Education of Little Tree

The 1935 Tennessee hills is the setting for his lovely little film about a nine year old boy who is half Indian and half white.

Little Tree (Joseph Aston, who is quite a find) is taken from his bitter aunt to live with his white grandfather (James Cromwell - Babe) and Cherokee grandmother (Tantoo Cardinal) after his mother dies.

He's an adorable and inquisitive child who enjoys life in the hills with his grandparents.  They rise early to pick corn, chop wood, catch fish by hand and work at grandpa's still, which he calls his "trade."

Since the school is a distance away, Grandma teaches Little Tree to read from the dictionary and every once in a while a mysterious friend (Graham Greene) shows up to teach the boy the "Indian way."

The country, then as now, was full of prejudices as demonstrated by a Senator who stops by for a campaign speech and refuses to shake hands with the Indians.  The town, however, where Little Tree and his family attend church and Grandpa sells his whiskey, accepts them with open arms.

The scenery is spectacular with forests blazing with fall color, streams with the sun sparkling on their surfaces and the setting sun in shades of burnt orange are breathtaking.  The peaceful settings contrast with the unsettling and sometimes cruel circumstances that Little Tree has to endure.

With all of the big summer movies about to open, this gem of a film could get lost in the shuffle, and that would be a shame.

The Education of Little Tree


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