Captain Joseph Blocker ( Christian Bale ) hates the Native Americans whom he calls savages . He has killed a lot of them in the past . And yet he is called upon to do the most detestable task for a man like him ; he has to escort a dying Native American chief named Yellow Hawk ( Wes Studi ) of the Cheyenne tribe back to his ancestral land after release of the chief from imprisonment . This journey will take them from fort Berringer in New Mexico all the way to Montana . The year is 1892 . The native American chief himself has killed a lot of people quite brutally in his days , and that makes the task doubly detestable for Blocker . But the orders are from the President himself and can't be disregarded on pain of court martial . But by the end of the journey the captain is a changed man . He defends the native chief's right to stay and die on the land against other white men who believe that natives have no rights by fighting the white men with gunfire . And he helps bury the chief and his clanspeople who have died in the fight . So how did the captain change ? The movie does not quite show any particular moment when his mind changes . But the dangerous journey in which both the Cheyennes and the party of troops escorting them have to fight numerous threats to their life and limb probably makes him a better man . Comradeship in intense circumstances has a way of melting people the way nothing else can.... On the way they encounter a devastated woman who has lost her entire family including her husband and children in a massacre by Native Americans of the Comanche tribe . Rosalie Quaid ( Rosamund Pike ) is at first scared on seeing the natives in the troop as they remind her of the natives who had killed her family , but she learns to accept them and they are on their way . But violence continues to plague the group in the form of further gun battles with the Comanches and others . The fight scenes are brutal and the killings are realistic . There is no mercy shown in many of the situations . By the time the climax is finished many of the protagonists have died violent deaths . Only a few are left . And those few who are left are on the point of developing permanent relationships with each other . Yes , Blocker and Rosalie and the only surviving Native American little girl may become a family in the end . Thus the grim movie ends in a high point and on a note of optimism . This is a progressive western different from the westerns of an earlier era which showed the natives are villains and whites as heroes . Here some natives are good while others are bad , similar to whites in the movie who may be good in some cases or bad in the other . Some characters in the movie spout dialogues about the injustice of the whites' treatment of the Native Americans . However this makes it a serious movie rather than an entertainer . Tilting towards the art form of movies though not completely . But even though it tries hard to be pro Native American , it does not fully succeed . The Native American characters are not well developed ; maybe the barrier is language as they cannot speak English well and we can understand only English . The characters of the whites are of course fully developed and both hero and heroine are white . Photography is the hallmark of the film , with stunning scenes of black clouds in the sky in the monsoon and fog and mist as it rains later in the movie . In the earlier part of the movie we see glorious shots of the changing American landscape which is yellow in the beginning in the desert and turns greener with pine trees as we go north with shots on rivers being crossed in between . Acting is good by all actors and background music is appropriate for the situations . The characters in the film look hardy and increasingly weatherbeaten as the movie progresses . Yet both Rosamund Pike and Christian Bale look good . So does the movie . Verdict---Three stars out of five .