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Movie ‘Out of the Furnace’ Sued by Native American Tribe for sullying their name

In the crime thriller, “Out of the Furnace,” the main character, Russell Baze (Christian Bale), lives in blue collar neighborhood. His younger brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) comes home from his fourth tour in Iraq with severe PTSD.

Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson) and Russell Baze (Christian Bale)
Relativity Media

Russell gets in trouble with an illegal fighting ring run by the movie’s villain, Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson). The evil DeGroat and his bare-knuckle fighting ring live in the Ramapough Mountains on the border of New York and New Jersey.

Seventeen members of the Ramapough Lunaape Native American tribe have filed what is being referred to as a $50 million lawsuit. Those being sued include the filmmakers, and the director and co-writer Scott Cooper and co-writer Brad Ingelsby.

The official civil action document states, “The amount in controversy is in excess of $150,000,000.” It is not clear how publications came up with the figure $50 million.

Eight in the suit have the surname DeGroat and two have the surname Van Dunk, which is the name used for another character in the film.

The movie never mentions Native Americans, but the lawsuit says that by using their surnames and setting the film in the Ramapough Mountains it sullies their image and causes them deep emotional stress.

The plaintiffs were especially offended by the movie’s use of the term “inbreds” and the fictionalized DeGroat and his evil cronies being referred to as “Jackson Whites,” a historically derogatory term used for the Ramapough Lunaape people.

Relativity Media has stated that the film “is not based on any one person or group” and is “entirely fictional.” However, Cooper said, “Woody’s character is based on someone who did touch my immediate family in a very tragic way.”

“Out of the Furnace” was produced by Ridley Scott and Leonardo DiCaprio for Relativity Media. According to Forbes, Relativity Media spent $27 million on the film. The movie also stars Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker and Sam Shepard.

Needless to say, the acting is phenomenal but the movie has not done well at the box office. Hopefully the old adage is true: “No publicity is bad publicity.”

“Out of the Furnace” is playing in New York City at Landmark Sunshine Cinema, 143 East Houston Street. It will be released on DVD in April 2014. Action, violent crime drama. Rated R. 116 minutes.

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