The Alamo

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I have finally got round to watching this – the 1960 film starring and directed by John Wayne. Accepting that the special effects etc of 1960 were nothing like those of today, it’s quite a well-made film. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really explain anything about the reasons for the Texan Revolution, and rather gives the impression that it was all about Davy Crockett and his group of fellow Tennesseeans having an Awfully Big Adventure!

Also, it was amazing how the Mexican soldiers managed to keep their terribly smart uniforms quite so pristine, LOL. And, whilst the general idea was historically accurate and the main characters were all real historical figures, a lot of the detail really wasn’t accurate at all.

Having said which, it was all quite entertaining. However, people tend to assume that what’s in a historical book or film must be entirely accurate, and that makes it all the more frustrating when it’s not.

One interesting interpretation of this film is that it was strongly influenced by being made at the height of the Cold War, i.e. Santa Anna’s Mexico is in some ways meant to represent Khrushchev’s, or, more likely, Stalin’s Soviet Union. I’m not 100% sure about that, but there was certainly an awful lot of talk about freedom, liberty, dying to make people free, etc … and nary a mention of the fact that Mexico forbade slavery and a lot of Texicans wanted it legalised (the one main slave character in the film was devoted to his master in a way that seemed more Gone With The Wind than it did the 1960s). Like a lot of books and films about the Alamo, it was all about portraying it as a great act of heroism.

Question. The Texican defenders of the Alamo were undoubtedly brave. Some horrific atrocities were carried out after both the Alamo and Goliad. No question about that. However, why is the struggle by part of the Mexican province of Coahuila y Tejas for independence from Mexico presented in American historical tradition as something heroic, whereas the secession of (11 states including) that same area, by then the state of Texas, just 25 years later, from the United States, presented as something wrong. What is the real difference? Nothing to do with the film, just something that annoys me!

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