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Beating drums thump and drone in the opening of Spirit of the Bluebird that fall in sync and pull at the beatings of a heart. These drums, along with native, tribal chanting lay a rhythmic background for the documentary’s main stage — a black canvas of fence posts and alley walls — on which erupts an artistic celebration of a bluebirds flight over a prairie.
Artist Jesse Gouchey and filmmaker Xstine Cook illuminate the story of Gloria Black Plume, a Native American woman brutally murdered in an alley by two men, with relatives’ voiceovers and facts of the case that flow in time with the creation of this mural of nature at its purest. The feelings of loss and sorrow resonate in the air much longer than the documentary’s five-minute runtime.
The alley where Plume was killed sets the backdrop for the art as trees, mountains and flowers spring up under the bluebird’s flight. This haunting reveal transforms the film into a touching elegy and memorial for a bluebird lost. With only five minutes, the film creates an impact of sorrow and love and yet, with a little more time there could be a story told full circle here. Still, amidst testimonials of love for a sister and longings for more time with a mother, Plume’s spirit fills the bluebird and soars over the wildness of the canvas and those who loved her most.
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