Woman Walks Ahead

Synopsis: The story follows Catherine Weldon (Jessica Chastain), who moved from Brooklyn to the Standing Rock Reservation in Dakota Territory to help Sioux chieftain Sitting Bull keep the land for his people. Weldon wrote letters to the federal government on behalf of Sitting Bull and lived on the land for several years with her son.
Director(s): Susanna White
Production: A24 and DIRECTV
Rotten Tomatoes:
101 min


[CATHERINE] 'Dear sir,

'my name is Catherine Weldon

and I live in New York City.

'I studied portrait painting

as a young woman,

'but when I married,

'it was deemed unsuitable

for me to pursue a profession.

'Recently, I visited

an exhibition

'of George Catlin paintings

of American Indians

'and my breath was taken away.

'It was the freedom

that struck me.

'Even inside the paintings,

the people were free.

'I discovered that

no portrait of you,

'the great Chief Sitting Bull,

'exists in any

of our public galleries

'and I intend

to rectify the situation.

'Almost one year ago,

my husband died

'and I've been in mourning

ever since.'


[CATHERINE] Please stop here.

[CATHERINE] 'Now my deep grief

has finally passed.'


'And I can find consolation

in my work.

'I've not sought

the permission of my father

'or my husband's family

'so you may think I am

something of a renegade.

'I assure you, this is not

by nature but by circumstance.

'I've written to the Agent

to say I'm on my way.'

[CHASKA] "Dear Mr. McLaughlin,

"I have painted many portraits

of senators, congressmen,

"and even a vice president.

"But lately I took

a decision to head west,

"with the intention of

painting portraits of Indians

"who've made their own

mark on history.

"In particular, I'm keen

to capture on canvas

"the last of the great Sioux

war chiefs, Chief Sitting Bull."

Tell her, hell, no.

She's also enclosed a letter

addressed to Sitting Bull

to be delivered in person.

New York liberals

stoking the flames.

When she gets here, arrest her.



- Fresh linens, ma'am?

- Oh, yes, please.

How long till we get to Omaha?

Half a day.

- You're an Indian, aren't you?

- Yes, ma'am.

- Which tribe?

- Presbyterian.

I'm heading to

Standing Rock Reservation.

I'm going to paint

Sioux Indians.

Have you ever been

to Standing Rock?

The Sioux hunted my people

like rabbits,

cut out their hearts

and fed 'em to the dogs.

You call if you need

any more towels.


- Ma'am.



Thank you.

Forgive me, ma'am,

but, uh...

very few unaccompanied ladies

travel beyond Omaha.

Then they are missing

some rare beauty.

- You're not a soldier's wife?

- No.

Soldiers' wives don't see

the beauty of the prairie,

only its hazards.

Well, are you gonna

make me guess?

You seem very good at it.

You're a missionary.

Oh. No, unfortunately,

I don't have the certainty.

Well, the only stop left is

Standing Rock Reservation.

If you're not a soldier's wife

and you're not a missionary...

...what other business

could you possibly have?

- I'm a painter.

- A painter?

Yes, a full-time painter.

I'd guess you came here

out of New York City.


'Cause New York is

the headquarters

of the National Indian

Defense Association.

From time to time, they send

their political agitators

out west

to stir things up

on the reservations.

I guess that's closer

to the truth.

I just told you,

I'm a... a painter.

Painters can be agitators too.

Often are.

So, now I'm a spy?

I'd guess you're traveling

to Standing Rock

to promote opposition

to the Allotment Act treaty.

Sir, if I knew what

the Allotment treaty was,

which I don't,

I probably would oppose it.

Well, you sure as hell

couldn't paint it.

I met you two minutes ago,

and already you have accused me

of being a spy and a liar.

I work for the War Department,


I didn't mean to be


but you do have

that certain look.

What look is that?

The look of someone

filled with good intentions.

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Steven Knight

Steven Knight was born in 1959 in Marlborough, England. He is a writer and producer, known for Eastern Promises (2007), Peaky Blinders (2013) and Locke (2013). more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Woman Walks Ahead" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 19 Aug. 2022. <https://www.scripts.com/script/woman_walks_ahead_23624>.

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