The Legend of Ward Allen: Savannah (2013)

Reflecting upon my viewing of Savannah there is a great sense of dissatisfaction. It was formulaic of local legend stories containing numerous clichés anticipating what’s ahead before the narrative does. I am not undermining the sentiments Savannah had for its lead character but I can instantly recollect dozens of films which contain similar concepts.

In the twilight era of rural ideals before modernisation Ward Allen intends to stem change, a noble but vain effort. Told in flashback Allen’s role as a duck hunter with loyal friend Christmas, a freed slave, is portrayed as vital to Savannah’s economy. Occasionally halted into court for disregarding gaming laws, audiences are treated to Allen’s Shakespearian rhetoric. Assumingly meant to charm us I felt indifferent. Despite this one character clearly held the opposite viewpoint, Lucy Stubbs. Charmed by Allen’s demeanour their bond is soon formed unsurprisingly into romance.

Here lies one of my personal critiques on Savannah. Though Jim Caviezel and Jamie Alexander’s chemistry was evident, their characters’ relationship developed within standard plot formula. Small glimpses of affection blossoming into marriage before slowly deteriorating. Typical dramatic flair. More so with Allen himself. Described by some as peculiar for rejecting his wealthy background for simpler means is meant to strengthen viewer identification. Yet his characterisation was in overdrive. Allen transforming continuously between respected duck hunter to raving drunk made me wonder what Savannah wanted to undertake. This extended to his relationship with Lucy and friendship with Christmas amongst other areas. Savannah dealt with too much content rather than narrowing down to a solid narrative structure.

Savannah’s problems lie in its contextualisation. Falling upon recognisable clichés with characters and plot points by overlaying with them caused Savannah to suffer. The only saving grace was the capabilities of Jim Caviezel, Jamie Alexander and Chiwetel Ejiofor who despite Savannah’s narrative structure, adequately convey their characters.

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