It’s a rarity to hear about a movie that is not only historical but has a Christian theme. Add to that “based on a true story,” and I was ready to pack my purse and go. So when “Alone Yet Not Alone” opened in my hometown, my husband and I headed to the matinee.
The movie was set in the wilderness of Pennsylvania in 1755 during the French and Indian War. It involved a family that had escaped troubles in their homeland of Germany to find a better life in the New World. They just didn’t realize the danger nor the terrible price they would pay for freedom. Some family members are killed by native Americans while the two young girls in the family are taken hostage to live among the Indians. The two girls are joined by dozens of other children of white families who have been kidnapped as well.
The story is based on the two young daughters, Barbara and Regina Leininger, and their struggles to survive as they cling to their Christian faith. It is inspiring and, at times, heartbreaking.
The script is very well written, allowing a viewer to follow along in the sometimes-complicated tale involving several opposing sides, including the British, the French and several different native tribes. I very much liked that the script showed both good guys and bad guys—each national group had its heroes and villains. And while many of the scenes depicted could have been very gruesome, the filmmakers chose their edits wisely. You knew that terrible things occurred but they were not in your face.
The cinematography was extraordinary. I was totally swept up in the vistas that showed examples of the primitive beauty of early America.
The song “Alone Yet Not Alone,” sung by Joni Eareckson Tada, was actually nominated for an Academy award but, through efforts to have it removed on a technicality, it lost its bid to be a nominee. The title song was so effective as an integral part of the story line, which only made the much-publicized exclusion of “Alone Yet Not Alone” from the Oscars in the song category even more upsetting. How often does a winning Oscar song have such an important place in a movie plot? Oscar should bow his metal head in shame.
Now to the critical part: The acting. Most of the characters were wonderful, with actors and actresses giving great justice to the characters they depicted. The children portraying younger Barbara and Regina, as well as the group of young ones taken hostage, were excellent in their roles. One of my favorite scenes involved twin little boys. I will not explain further, but take note. It is precious.
The men portraying the native Americans, especially Ozzie Torres, were outstanding. Jenn Gotzon had a small but memorable role as Lydia.
Most of the adult actors were wonderful with the exception of the critical role: Barbara Leininger. What were the producers thinking? This was a character that should have shown a woman emotionally, perhaps physically, scarred from ten years in captivity. Instead we have actress Kelly Grayson looking like she had spent ten years in a Hollywood spa. Forgive my bluntness, but I have seen better acting in community productions.
One of the weaknesses in Christian filmmaking in the last ten years has been the acting. But several recent releases such as “October Baby,” “Heaven Is For Real” and “God’s Not Dead” have proven that there are quality actors and actresses that can, and will, do justice to Christian films. It behooves Christian filmmakers to pick their actors wisely. They should be striving for excellence in every aspect of their productions.
I would have given this film, five out of five stars. But I’ll rate it 4.5 for the lead role let-down.