In 1977, a plane carrying Southern rock legends LYNYRD SKYNYRD mysteriously runs out of gas mid-air en route to a concert, crashing into a dangerous Mississippi swamp while killing several of the band members, crew and both pilots. STREET SURVIVORS: The True Story of The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash tells the story thru one of the survivors, drummer Artimus Pyle, who not only survived the fatal crash (that claimed the life of the band’s founder and front man Ronnie Van Zant amongst others), but who also bravely pulled the remaining survivors out of the plane wreckage before staggering towards the nearest farmhouse in rural Mississippi to seek help.
When we unexpectedly lose a loved one our personal reality comes to a screeching halt. Moreover, when a beloved celebrity passes away, the entire world can pause. It’s especially evident when that celebrity made songs that spoke to a generation. Music has the ability to rhythmically contextualize thoughts, emotions, and ideals while transcending race, religion, and culture. That’s what makes it so special and why we hold certain artists and bands at such high esteem. They become bigger than life and seemingly untouchable, so when they mysteriously die we call it into question. It’s usually a freak accident or a drug overdose but we can’t fathom it being so simple. Lynyrd Skynyrd was one of those bigger than life bands in the 70s with songs that are still celebrated to this day. When news of their plane crash circulated in 1977, no one could believe and the conspiracy theories started. Unlike many similar incidents, there were survivors to describe what actually happened. That’s where Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash is able to shed some light. Narrated by drummer, Artimus Pyle who was on the plane when it went down, is able to guide us through this tragic journey.
While not diving deep into the band’s rise, the film does show how big they were becoming and the brotherly bond they had with each other. We are shown the ups and downs of rockstar lifestyle with a rockstar score to back it up. For me, I like that I was able to get a sense of the personality of frontman, Ronnie Van Zant. There’s always a cloud of mystery around lead singers and Van Zant is no different, always seeming to know more than he let on. We also get to know what kind of person Artimus was back then and the trauma he went through surviving a horrific event. While the acting feels a little off the mark at times, the story still shines through. Putting us on the plane during and after the plane crash is very intense and is really the film’s crowning achievement. This is a story that many wanted to be told and it can now put to rest all the speculation surrounding the incident. I enjoyed learning about a part of music history that I didn’t know much about. Definitely a film that Skynyrd fans will find intriguing. Its rewatchability is at a medium.
Plot & Pace
Following drummer Artimus Pyle, the story focuses on the success and last days of Lynyrd Skynyrd. With the band needing to replace Bob Burns on drums, a tryout is held for a select few to take his place. Pyle having an impressive set of skills is selected by frontman, Ronnie Van Zant and is now a part of the south’s most popular band. The band’s success was growing by the day which led to a demand in further away cities, which meant they needed a plane. Little did they know, their sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll lifestyle would be in jeopardy as soon as they met the pilots. The film moves at a great pace. Since it takes place during the bands last year, it puts us right in the middle of a character’s struggle and builds from there.
Characters & Chemistry
The two people the film focuses on are Artimus Pyle (Ian Shultis) and Ronnie Van Zant (Taylor Clift). Artimus takes what he does very seriously and with his military background seems to be the more responsible one of the band. Ronnie is a free spirit that goes with the flow and is all about the music. The two have a quick brotherly bond with Pyle in the big brother role. He took control of many situations despite being the newest in the group.
Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash is available today on Blu-ray and VOD. Enjoy and stay safe.
Check out our exclusive interview with director Jared Cohn
Director: Jared Cohn
Writer: Jared Cohn
Runtime: 1h 33m
Rating: 3.5 out of 5