'Windtalkers' splashes onto DC scene
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FRIDAY, JULY 27, 2001

"Windtalkers," the John Woo film about the Navajo Code Talkers and the Marines assigned to protect them, won't be premiered until the Veterans Day weekend, but the movie is already drawing attention thanks to good timing and the presence of one actor whom Indian Country can't seem to get enough of.

On Thursday, President Bush bestowed long-awaited Congressional Gold medals on four of the original 29 Code Talkers, whose unbreakable code helped the United States win World War II. Taking advantage of the situation, MGM Studios held a reception following the ceremony which served not only to fete the Code Talkers and their families but to get some media attention for the project.

Also, said MGM representatives yesterday, current interest in World War II can't hurt. "Pearl Harbor," focusing on the event which drew America into the war, has grossed $362 million since being released this past May during the Memorial Day weekend.

To meet, and beat, that success, "Windtalkers" has a lot to work towards. Judging by reaction to one of its stars, Canadian Aboriginal actor Adam Beach, it won't have too much trouble securing an adoring audience.

Nicolas Cage, who showed up with rock-n-roll princess Lisa Marie-Presley, may have starred in more high-profile movies but Beach turned a lot of heads yesterday. Surrounded by gaggles of women who wanted to get next to him, even members of the press assigned to cover the event couldn't resist having pictures taken with the formerly long-haired, 28-year-old Ojibwa from Manitoba.

Beach seemed to take all the attention in stride. "This is a story that all children should know today," he said of the movie.

Beach added that he's been awed by the entire experience, which included some expensive filming in Hawaii. Its clearly been the biggest production he's been involved in to date.

Beach's fellow talent -- Woo, Cage and Christian Slater -- will probably translate to bigger success for him as well. His most successful role, as Victor Joseph in 1998's "Smoke Signals," heightened his stature among Indian Country and the independent movie industry. "Windtalkers" can only increase visibility.

Working on the movie has not only been fun for Beach, he's also learned a lot. He had a Navajo coach teach him the Dineh language, difficult enough that the Japanese couldn't break the code but hard to learn on its own.

In the film, Beach plays Code Talker Ben Yazzie. Cage, not surprisingly, is the Marine assigned to protect him. Each Marine was on orders to kill a Code Talker should he come in danger of being taken by the enemy.

Although the movie takes its name from the Code Talkers, a number of whom were consultants, its not entirely about them. That may disappoint some, but after all, its Hollywood and there's been no major picture where the main protagonist is Indian.

Until that happens, though, viewers will have to suffice with watching Beach storm on the silver screen in a film which is about as overdue as the medals which were awarded yesterday. Its a sacrifice many will be willing to make.

"Windtalkers" opens November 9.

Multimedia on Windtalkers:
Trailer 1 | Trailer 2 | Behind the Scenes [300k] | Behind the Scenes [100k] | Behind the Scenes [56k]

Relevant Links:
Adam Beach, Biography and Links from NativeCelebs -
Windtalkers -