This is how I understood the film without having read the book. I don't give a summary,that has been done by the other reviewers here, and yes, my review will contain spoilers.
The drama is told about and around the character Ward Allen, a locally renown and remembered local sort of hero. But why was he important and what was his meaning for those who have known him and remember him?
It seems, that he had a way to impress his follow men by his stubborn way of living in a romantic past, that was slowly slipping away and was glorified when he was long gone. The important factor here is "time" because clearly the 1920ies were a turning point, after WW1 and the great war to come that was sweeping away social classes and ways of living not only in Europe but also in America. The beginning of modern times is obvious, there are coaches and horses in the streets but also automobiles. In one scene Ward and Christmas look from their boat to the rising of an industrial building at the horizon and Ward says that the birds are not flying over it.
The story reminded me very much of Ford Madoxx Fords "Parades End", set in the time of WW1. The hero of that story, who was also a creature of a time long gone, was defined as the last gentlemen, because of his unfaltering upkeeping of a moral codex no longer important in a changing society.(Watch Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC miniseries)
The hero of Savannah on the other hand is not so much a gentlemen but a free spirit, a man who doesn't like to be "tamed", not by his family and upbringing, not by his wife and not by the society around him. But he stands no chance,time goes on and everything changes, his lifestyle with living outdoors and sustaining himself by hunting is no longer possible, and industrialization is on the horizon. That is child is stillborn can be a symbol. He has to take this strike of fate and then another and so on until he sees no way of going on and kills himself.
All that is told in a slow and melancholic way with the help of a frame story in the present. The omnipresent birds and the water carry highly symbolic meaning as the flow of time.
Many critics say that the three story lines are not told good enough, one should have concentrated on the friendship between the former slave and white man, that was his friend. But I don't think that is what this film is about, that is only a sideline. From that missunderstanding there might come the critic of using too many clichées,as someone accused the film on the messageboard. But those "clichées" are not what is important here. Ward had the ability to express himself by writing - he was not a writer in the usual sense of the word. Because of his upbringing and education he had the possibility to describe his confusion and the problems he had with the change of the older way of living to the modern age. He couldn't accept it and stayed therefore as a symbolic figure for the turmoil of that age, that many might have felt.
As mentioned in the other reviews the pictures and the filming are excellent and the cast did a very great job, mostly Jim Caviezel who proved that he can also play extrovert characters. His use of his voice and movements are highly entertaining to watch. This is not a film for the big audience but it should have gained more attention. One thing I didn't like so much was the score. The main theme of the music was nice and kind of hypnotizing, but it was used too much, should have varied more.
Action / Drama / Family / History / Romance
Action / Drama / Family / History / Romance
SAVANNAH is the true story of Ward Allen, a romantic and bombastic character who rejects his plantation heritage for the freedom of life on a river. Ward navigates the change of early 20th century America on the wrong side of the law and society, his loyal friend, a freed slave named Christmas Moultrie, at his side. Master of Shakespeare, and the shotgun that provides Savannah's markets with fowl, Ward fights for his rights as a hunter. His charisma and eloquent rhetoric win the heart of a society woman who defies her father to marry him. An elderly Moultrie tells the story of life on the river with his friend to a little boy, who passes the legendary Ward Allen down to the next generation.
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August 27, 2014 at 03:13 AM