Eat Your Heart Out, Kevin Costner! ‘1883’ Tributes Oscar-Winning Film
The most talked about scene from Ep. 8 of 1883 involved Elsa Dutton's successful buffalo hunt and what she did immediately afterward.
It was not for the squeamish, but it might have looked familiar for anyone over age 40 — or anyone who's seen nearly every Kevin Costner movie. Did you catch it?
Remember, Elsa (played by Isabel May) plays a the daughter of John Dutton's (Costner) great-great-grandfather, and both 1883 and Yellowstone were created by a man who has clearly immersed himself in movie culture, Taylor Sheridan.
During the scene in question, Sam (actor Martin Sensmeier) celebrates Elsa's successful hunt by dropping to his knees alongside the buffalo and cutting open its belly. He then pulls out its heart and tells Elsa to take a bite. More on the reasons for that in a second, but after a tiny bit of hesitation, she agrees, and then finishes the episode feeling as empowered as any human ever has. She literally won't wipe the blood away.
Thirty-two years ago, Costner did similar. In Dances With Wolves, he kills a buffalo, and the Native Americans he's hunting with rip open the beast's belly and pull out its liver, telling him to take a bite. He hesitates and eventually agrees, and everyone celebrates enthusiastically. Minus the setup — Elsa's hunt is quicker and more focused, while Lieutenant John J. Dunbar's moment comes after a hunt, but also after he saves someone from being trampled — it's practically the same scene, down to the framing.
Other connections between 1883 and Dances With Wolves include the casting of actor Graham Greene, who played Kicking Bird in the older Western drama. Per Variety, he plays an elder named Spotted Eagle who tells James Dutton to settle in Paradise Valley in 1883.
The reason behind eating the buffalo heart is only hinted at in 1883, but Sam tells Elsa it's to give her strength. Some further research shows that this Native American tradition stems from the belief that eating the heart would allow many qualities of the animal to transfer.