The Exiles

Kent Mackenzie
USA 1961 | 62 Min. | original

Like many others of her gen­er­a­tion of Native Amer­i­cans, Yvonne grew up in a reser­va­tion before moving to Los Ange­les. She shares a two-room apart­ment with her hus­band Homer and five other young Indi­ans. Since Yvonne got preg­nant, her thoughts have been con­stant­ly revolv­ing around the future, her own and that of her baby. The men, on the other hand, live from the fleet­ing kicks that they find in the rest­less nights on the streets of down­town and in the main street bars. After research­ing in the Native Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty in Los Ange­les for years, Kent Macken­zie began work­ing with his pro­tag­o­nists on The Exiles in 1957. The film, which was com­plet­ed three years later, is one of the first – and still very few – films about young Indi­ans in the big city. For his empa­thet­ic obser­va­tions, Macken­zie found poetic forms far from any kind of roman­ti­ciz­ing. His graph­ic sense for noc­tur­nal Los Ange­les, the use of inter­views with the actors as the inner mono­logues of the pro­tag­o­nists, and the sound­track of the rock ’n’ roll band “The Revels” from radios and juke­box­es make The Exiles a mas­ter­piece of great beauty and integri­ty. Its restora­tion closes anoth­er gap in the his­to­ry of inde­pen­dent cinema.