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Windtalkers in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Windtalkers

Nicolas Cage • Christian Slater • Adam Beach

Adam Beach and Nicolas Cage do some tough talking in John Woo‘s latest. THE CONCEPT:
Based on the true story of Navajo Americans recruited in World War II to learn a secret code which the Japanese could never break. Marines Joe Enders and Ox Anderson are assigned to protect two code talkers (and the code itself - based on their native language) by never allowing the Navajos to fall into enemy hands.

U.S. RELEASE: June 14 2002, national • Rated: R


“It’s an interesting subject and it’s taken a long time to be told. The script was a history lesson for me. I didn’t have any idea about the Navajo’s contribution to helping us turn the tide and really win the war.”

“The Navajo leaders really wanted us to use Navajo actors. We interviewed over 400 Navajo young people (but) couldn’t find any actors, because they had no experience. A friend of mine showed me one of Adam Beach’s movies called Smoke Signals, and I said, “Wow, this is the guy.” In the old Westerns, the Indians seemed stiff and faceless. We never knew how they felt. We never saw them laugh or cry. I wanted to change that kind of image. I wanted to put real people on the screen, and I was so happy with Adam because he looked so natural.”

ADAM BEACH (Ben Yahzee):
“As a kid I heard the story of the Navajo language used as a code. But I never knew the extent of it until I did this film. After their six months training, they had to memorize it and throw away the book, and then they had to do it (on the battlefield) seeing all the horrific views of war (around them). That blows me away.”

NICOLAS CAGE (Joe Enders):
“Enders is shell-shocked, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He’s been through horrible experiences in the war, and he’s lost his innocence. He’s probably the most unhappy character I’ve ever played.”

“I enjoyed playing Ox. I really liked the heart and the soul of the character, and playing the opposite side of the coin to Nic’s character, who is a lot darker and a lot more war weary.”

ADAM BEACH on authentically representing the Navajo race:
“What I found most difficult was the language, because the Navajo language is the hardest language of all nations in North America. I had to learn it in six months. I found myself realizing the importance of one’s language. That’s one thing I took away from this film, the moral value of looking into my culture and passing it on.”

“John Woo is the ultimate auteur. His vision is a world I want to work in. He’s very trusting and collaborative with actors. I also believe he likes to work in extremes – his vision is extreme and so is mine.”

“For me going to boot camp (for the film) was really interesting because it gave me a glimpse of how the military works. They put us in the same uniforms and we all slept in a big barracks with sixty other guys. It stripped away individuality and it made us one unit. I think my performance would have been less authentic if I hadn’t done the boot camp. It helped me to really feel like I could honestly inhabit the uniform and get a sense of the patriotism of being a Marine.”

“What they really learned about in boot camp was brotherhood. I remember the first day we shot the big battle scene at Saipan; it was so touching. There were 280 bombs in the field and over 1,000 extras charging, fighting and firing. I wanted the stunt doubles for the actors for the wide-shots, but the actors all refused. I said, ‘No one will see your faces.’ They didn’t care. I was so moved. (He laughs) It seemed they wanted to die for the movie...”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Visit the official Windtalkers site
Images above © MGM Studios Inc.
Feature © 2002 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #620, July 2002 cover
July 2002 issue, published June 20.

For reviews and features about all kinds of films, read Film Review regularly.

Film Review, Superpowered 2002 cover

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