The ‘Noble Savage’ is a fictional character that portrays an innocent outsider untouched by the corruption of civilization.
In Hollywood, this generally produces a storyline that goes something like this: a respectable (usually white, well educated and rich) man loses his way in unknown territory and stumbles across a local (the savage) who helps him find his way home, usually after saving the respectable man’s physical life and assisting him in establishing a spiritual one. Then, upon returning home, the respectable man participates in the demise of the local and his or her entire family or village. Usually, the participation is accidental or the result of naiveté, which conveniently eliminates the potential long-term relationship between the respectable man and his new friend. It also presents an excellent opportunity for the Hollywood ‘Nooooooo!’ (done with great drama, tears and a fall to the knees).
Here are my selections for the top three movies using homeless people or people in poverty in a classic ‘Noble Savage’ storyline:
1) A Christmas Carol Is it possible to forget that moment when Scrooge is heartbroken over the possible death of Tiny Tim? Of course, between the help of otherworldly spirits and the benevolent poor surrounding the old man, Scrooge the miser finds his way home and becomes a very happy man.
2) Down and Out in Beverly Hills A homeless man is taken in by super-wealthy Beverly Hills family and proceeds to fix all of the heartbreak, disappointment and self-destructive habits of his new benefactors. This movie does not have a ‘Noooooo!’ moment, but it does have a horrible scene where the homeless man insists that he is a ‘good homeless’ person because he likes being out on the street – most of the rest of them hate it and are, therefore, ‘bad’ homeless.
3) The Fisher King I must admit that I actually like this movie because of the relationships between the main characters, but it remains in the top three for the following reasons:
- The two lead males are both respectable men who have lost their way (and their minds) due to a horrible tragedy.
- Both lead males interact with homeless people while lost and use those new relationships to find their way home.
- One character snubs a homeless ‘friend’ after regaining his rightful status as super-wealthy-powerful-famous-man and is unable to find this friend when he has a change of heart (say it with me: Nooooooo!).
- The other leading man is returned home (regains sanity) through the help of his new respectable friend and a woman who has fallen in love with him (another standard Hollywood scenario), thereby leaving behind the people he knew while homeless.
Those are my picks – what are yours?
(C) Adora Myers 2014