OK if you like that kind of thing
Alone Yet Not Alone: Their Faith Became Their Freedom, retitled for some television showings more Westernly and perhaps more enticingly as Massacre at Buffalo Valley, is an eighteenth-century captivity-narrative story. The movie belongs in the so-called ‘Christian film’ genre, not a type of movie I am addicted to, I must admit, and indeed in many ways this one is hardly a good advertisement for that genre. It is quite often saccharine and schmaltzy and generally may be described with that dread adjective “heart-warming”. It’s one of those TV movies suited to ‘family viewing’ in conservative households, which may well be the only place where such viewing still goes on.
It’s also too long at 103 minutes, dragging here and there, and suffers, at least it suffered in the version I saw on TV, from clumsy editing, to the point where you are not quite sure what just happened. Furthermore, much of the acting is distinctly amateurish.
It is a good-looking picture, again almost too much so, pretty-pretty, but there’s some nice photography, by James Suttles, of Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee locations.
It was directed by Ray Bengston and George D Escobar, whose other works I do not know, though I believe at least one of their films has been nominated by the International Christian Film Festival, and written by Mr Escobar and two others, from Tracy Leininger Craven’s novel, which, again, I have not read (and I fear am unlikely to).
The Alone title comes from a hymn that the Leininger family sing, often. They are Lutherans from Germany, it’s not stipulated which part, come to Pennsylvania to farm and to be free to practice their faith. They are improbably nice to everyone and the opening is certainly overly bucolic, a tone which is oft repeated.
However, it’s 1755 and the French and Indian war is happening, with Native American tribes allying with one or other of the European powers, hoping to gain something out of it (as the French colonies had a population of roughly 60,000 settlers, compared with 2 million in the British colonies, the outnumbered French particularly depended on their native allies). Pro-French Delawares attack the Leininger farmstead, kill and scalp the exceedingly benign father (Robert Pierce) and take away as captives the two daughters, Barbara and Regina (Kelly Greyson and Cassie Brennan).
So we are in the classic area of white-females-captured-by-Indians, which dates back to James Fenimore Cooper and before and which will be a staple of the Western through to The Searchers and beyond. The subtext (for it cannot be explicitly shown or stated in such a family film) is that such innocent Christian virgins will be outraged by the heathen savages and suffer a “fate worse than death”.
They are ten years in captivity, so they have to use different actors for the children when grown and the directors struggle somewhat with the pacing and editing, with fades to black and “Many year later” captions.
I like the Delawares’ painted faces, though. Very snazzy.
Two of these fellows are brothers, and rivals. They both aim to be chief one day, succeeding their pater, Chief Selinquaw (Ron Pinson Jr). I thought these bros were called Alaska and Hanna, but that turned out to be because of the actors’ poor diction and they were in fact Galasko (the Abel, to put it in biblical terms many of the viewers would like) and the Cain figure, Hannowa. As is standard practice for films of this type, decent Galasko (Ozzie Torres) is all for negotiation and peace deals while angry firebrand Hannowa (Tony Wade) wants the warpath.
Well, although they took their time, ten years after all, four of the captives finally do escape and are pursued for 200 miles by angry Hannowa. The chase is in fact the best part of the movie, the least boring bit anyway. The brave escapees finally get to Fort Pitt and safety. The last reel, in which the family (save for the scalped dad, natch) are finally reunited, is almost unbearably sugary. The end.
Some viewers may enjoy this movie. Who knows.