Home > Uncategorized > Lies of the Alamo

Lies of the Alamo

Wow, Martyrs of the Alamo was shockingly bad. The portrayal of the Texans was laughable while depictions of other cultures and women were mostly just sad. While watching the film, I couldn’t help but think of Olmstead’s description of early Texas and compare it to the presentation of early Texas in the movie. I couldn’t quite imagine the lazy, aggressive, criminal Texans of Olmstead’s Journey Through Texas as being anywhere near the same people as D. W. Griffith’s patriotic, flag-waving heroes of the Alamos who bravely fought the evil Santa Anna and protected their women. And while Mexicans and African-Americans portrayed in Martyrs of the Alamo are racistly depicted as ignorant and animal-liked, they are not suffering the abuses of the slaves in Olmsead’s or Harriet Jacob’s writing. Rather than being the oppressed, they are shown as the savages to the white man’s gentle heroes.

Out of curiosity, I looked online to see what others had to say about the film, expecting the reviews to be as scathing as those delivered by myself and classmates. What I found was sad; rotten tomatoes describes the film like so: “Featuring a big budget with amazing special effects (for the time), large, historically convincing sets and, of course, the rousing last stand, this movie is a welcome addition to the ranks of Alamo films”. Um, what? As both historically inaccurate and disgustingly racist and sexist, I’d really expected something different from a modern review.

What this did remind though is to remember the context of the film. Surely the reactions to the film then were much different as the opinions held by Griffith were likely much closer to the audience of the time. I’d be really interested to see what reactions to the film were during its time.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. lhennigan
    April 19, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Thats really interesting about the reviews. I think that the time period of the movie may explain the positive reviews as well as the fact that this was one of the first motion pictures ever made, so audiences were probably more amazed by the medium rather than content. I do think that finding out how audiences percieved the film would be really interesting and even finding out how people today would comment on it.

  2. rh567
    April 19, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    I was also dismayed. I was very disturbed by the introduction by the “expert” (whatever that means), he seems very impressed by this movie. However, I share your thoughts on its degrading images and actions and ideas. How anyone today could leave a positive comment is beyond me… but then we still have “secede” bumper stickers.

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