Introducing 'Alone Yet Not Alone,' the year's most obscure Oscar nominee
Yet again, the Best Original Song category turns up a shocker
By Guy Lodge
Turns out the film received a limited release in September, specifically within the Christian market. Production company Enthuse Entertainment describes themselves as producing "God-honoring, faith-based, family-friendly films that inspire the human spirit to seek and know God." A true-life historical drama set in 1755, it tells the story of two young sisters captured by native Americans during a raid on their family's farm. As the poster informs us, a "forced marriage" and "desperate escape" ensue. (I really hope this isn't as politically dubious as it sounds.) Cue the titular song, a family hymn that provides them with solace and inspiration during their ordeal.
By Morgan Lee
Since its nomination was announced, some critics have criticized the movie, claiming that it gives a negative and demeaning depiction of Native Americans.
The ads say Alone Yet Not Alone is based on a true story. Well, sort of. It's apparently based on a novelization of a true story:
Alone Yet Not Alone: Their faith became their freedom
A reviewer didn't think much of this novel:
Gr 4-6. Barbara and Regina Leininger were from a family of German immigrants who were living in the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania in 1755, and they were captured by Indians during the French and Indian War. This novel, based on their experiences, focuses on the faith that sustained them during their captivity. Given to different tribes, the sisters are separated and do not see each other again for close to 10 years. Although Barbara is treated well by Galasko, the Indian brave who wants to marry her, life is hard. She never loses her determination to escape, and after several years, she and three other captives manage to flee successfully. What could have been an interesting story of survival is diminished by the book's simplistic tone and lack of nuance. The settlers are beautiful and compassionate, while many Indians are unattractive, cruel, and troubled because they don't believe in one god. The depiction of them is beyond biased and there is no attempt to provide any historical background or explanation for their actions. It will be difficult to find an audience for this book.
"The Narrative of Marie le Roy and Barbara Leininger, for Three Years Captives among the Indians"
If the pamphlet is accurate, the movie isn't totally off-base. The girls weren't hurt but did witness others being tortured, and they suffered from privation, primarily hunger. They never accepted captivity and dreamed of escaping, but thought they'd be "roasted alive" if the Indians recaptured them.
Of course, the pamphlet's accuracy is a big "if." The girls could've exaggerated their travails, or the official could've exaggerated them. I wouldn't give much credence to a settler's account of Indian life.
The actual events
Here's the massacre in which the girls were taken captive. The Wikipedia entry is presumably more neutral than accounts by the participants. It provides some background but doesn't tell us what the captives endured:
Penn's Creek Massacre
Even the background is lacking. Did the British and French have any legal right to settle on the Indians' land? Were any agreements ratified by the whole tribe or just a friendly "chief"? How many Indians were killed by the settlers' guns and diseases? Etc.
Without more information, we have to wonder if the movie is more false than true. Indians did commit crimes, but they were defending their land, not rampaging for no reason. It was a like an early version of "Stand Your Ground": They had the right to kill anyone who threatened them.