‘Yellowstone’ TV: Is There a Connection Between the Show and Kevin Costner’s ‘Dances With Wolves’?

by Katie Maloney

“Yellowstone” is not just reviving but also redefining the western television culture. Instead of shoot-outs and the high-paced action of traditional westerns, “Yellowstone” focuses on why a group of seemingly unrelated people can all be drawn to the beauty of western landscapes.

The show, starring Kevin Costner as John Dutton, is a cowboy show for the modern era. People who may have scoffed at vintage spaghetti westerns, now find themselves glued to their screens while following “Yellowstone.” And in a similar vein, the movie “Dances with Wolves” did the same. Kevin Costner’s 1990 film redefined what it meant to make a movie based in the west. The film focused more on the characters and their love for the land than action sequences or petty drama.

So, is there a connection between “Yellowstone” and “Dances with Wolves”? One fan shared their thoughts via a Reddit thread.

“DWW helped make Costner famous, revived the Western genre to a large degree, and gave many their first–if somewhat inaccurate–view of American Indian culture,” wrote one fan.

The fan then tied “Yellowstone” to the accomplishments “Dances with Wolves” achieved.

“Costner is, again, this time in a TV series, and not a movie. Teaming up with American Indian actors, showcasing glorious Western landscapes. And, again, giving us a complex, and dynamic plot,” they wrote.

The fan then posed an interesting question. They wrote, “Would ‘Yellowstone’ have been possible if DWW had not mostly paved the way nearly thirty years earlier?”

Kevin Costner Is Committed To Re-Invigorating The Western Through Projects Like ‘Yellowstone’

Over 30 years after its debut, “Dances with Wolves” is still one of the highest-grossing Westerns of all time. The movie earned over $424 million worldwide. So, there’s something about it that draws people in. And we think it’s the film’s authenticity.

During an interview in 2013, Costner talked about how he actually isn’t a fan of most westerns. However, he believes that there is something incredibly powerful about a project created authentically in the west.

“I think the majority of them are real low-brow, are real costume parties,” said Costner. “And we wonder why our younger people and our college people don’t like westerns. Well, that’s because there aren’t good ones. They’re not dumb people. They go, ‘What, it has no value for us.’ But the truth is if you create an architecture, an emotional architecture, where they see themselves. And you create a finale that’s quite exciting, then you’re able to say, ‘See what I told you? That’s what I’ve been talking about.’ The reason why I try to do this is it’s an art form, it’s hard to do it.”

Well, Costner certainly accomplished this in “Dances with Wolves.” And he’s back at it again with his portrayal of John Dutton on “Yellowstone.” Thanks, “Dances with Wolves”, for paving the way for modern western projects like “Yellowstone.”