Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bound for glory

The Native Americans called him “Son of the Morning Star,” because he liked to attack at dawn. Tonight at 8 on Thirteen/WNET, PBS’ “American Experience” explores the life and legacy of George Armstrong Custer – the Civil War hero who in June of 1876 was overmatched, defeated and killed by native forces in a battle near the Little Bighorn River in what is now Montana. Andrew Young, a Croton-on-Hudson filmmaker who was featured in the November WAG, served as director of photography on “Custer’s Last Stand,” which ultimately plumbs the fateful character of a man bound for glory in the worst possible way.

Custer’s courageous but reckless and arrogant nature has long been the subject of film treatment. (Errol Flynn, anyone?) But those wishing to follow up on tonight’s work should begin with Evan S. Connell’s “Son of the Morning Star: Custer and The Little Bighorn.” It is biography as superb literature and quite frankly, one of the best books you’ll ever read.