Dalva (1996)

Dalva (1996)
 
 

Legends of the Lakota

Farrah Fawcett in Dalva (1996)

As a teenager in 60s Nebraska Dalva Northridge (Farrah Fawcett - Jewel) fell pregnant by her Lakota Indian boyfriend Duane (Jesse Borrego) who came to work on her grandfather's (Rod Steiger) ranch. But as soon as she gives birth the baby is taken from her by her grandfather who gives the child away. Twenty years later and Dalva is still haunted by her only child who was taken from her and an incident leads her to return home where she falls for Sam Creekmouth (Powers Boothe - Sudden Death) despite having been in a relationship with a man called Michael (Peter Coyote) in San Francisco. Her return home and friendship with Sam leads Dalva to try and find her child.

"Dalva" is based on a book by Jim Harrison a name which many will know for "Legends of the Fall" and when you know that you can see the similarity as both are epic romantic tales. The thing is that whilst director Ken Cameron tries to do with "Dalva" what Edward Zwick did with "Legends of the Fall" and bring to screen the romantic beauty of Harrison's story it seems forced. Right from the opening scenes which sees Shawn Cady as the Young Dalva riding on horseback with her blonde hair flowing in the sunlight it feels too manufactured. It gets to the point that during the opening scenes which focus upon the romance between Dalva and Duane that it crosses the line in to the realms of being slightly cheesy.

Powers Boothe in Dalva (1996)

These opening scenes quickly movie aside for Dalva as a grown up in a relationship with Michael who whilst in love with her is also interested in the journals her grandfather kept relating to their Indian heritage. Now what follows can be summed up by saying that Dalva finds romance with someone who loves her for more than her grandfather's journals and feels a yearning to find her son as she is haunted by the child who was taken from her. One of the disappointing things about this is that we learn a secret relating to her grandfather right at the start which in my book would have been better kept from us as whilst it makes sense why he had Dalva's child taken from her at birth we could have done with the mystery.

Anyway the story focuses on Dalva's return home and we have her finding romance, discovering secrets and of course searching for her child. But all of it is overplayed so that all the great romantic moments end up feeling manufactured and like with those early scenes also ending up cheesy. To put it in to context we have Farrah Fawcett who is perfect for delivering the mix of drama and beauty which the character of Dalva calls for yet we have scenes which are dominated by her look such as a scene which sees her in tight shorts and figure hugging t-shirt. I imagine that Harrison's story was colourful and descriptive but in turning it into a 96 minute made for TV movie it hasn't got the time or space to do it justice and takes short cuts by forcing the beauty side of things. It is not just Fawcett as Powers Boothe rugged handsomeness is also forced with too many posed scenes whilst Coyote as out of place city guy is too comical.

What this all boils down to is that "Dalva" certainly has a romantic look but it often feels forced with too many manufactured scenes which attempt to be epically beautiful. It is a shame as whilst having never read "Dalva" I would imagine the book is a lot more epic and romantic than this made for TV movie.

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