The Martyrs of the Alamo
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THE MARTYRS OF THE ALAMO The earliest surviving Alamo film, produced in 1915 by American film pioneer D.W. Griffith, Martyrs of the Alamois truly a rare cinematic treat. Telling the tale of the courageous American stand against oppression and tyranny, with its impressive sets, wonderful battle scenes, and expressive performances, Martyrssurpasses the expectations implied by the words "epic filmmaking." Witness the birth of Texas and get the true meaning to the immortal words, "Remember the Alamo," with this rare and thrilling cinematic treasure. (1915 72 Min. B/W)
~Introduction by Alamo expert Frank Thompson
~The Alamo: Shrine of Texas Liberty Lost & Found (9 Min. B/W & Color)
~The Alamo: "Shrine of Texas Liberty" (16 Min. B/W)
~The Spirit of Independence (5 Min. Color)
TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 102 MIN.
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The picture quality is excellent for a 1915 movie and the special features alone are worth the price of the DVD. There is an introduction by Alamo expert Frank Thompson, and then he explains the discovery of another Alamo movie, The Alamo:Shrine of Texas Liberty. This was a 20-minute short made in the 1930s in San Antonio as an educational film for schools. However, it was apparently never released and was only recently discovered. The actors are all San Antonio community leaders and the production values are pretty cheap. So cheap, in fact, that when the Texans enter the Alamo you can see several extras wearing white tee-shirts and jeans. There was no money for costumes so everyone just wore what they had. The last special feature is a 5 minute animated cartoon made in 1976 "The Spirit of Independence." It was made in conjunction with the bi-centennial.
Martyrs of the Alamo is definitely politically incorrect by today's standards, but it still a must for anyone interested in the history of Texas.
The main thing in common is bigotry. In this film, the war is depicted as a buch of upstanding white men trying to save white women from the lecherous ravages of those savage Mexicans. Mexicans are portrayed as an inferior race. This is patently untrue.
The second thing it has in common is a lack of historicity. There was a Texas Revolution. Gral. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna did rule Mexico and command the Mexican Army. Travis, Bowie and Crocket did die at the Alamo and Sam Houston did defeat the generalisimo at the Battle of San Jacinto. These elements are present in this film but most of the rest of what is present is fiction or even contrary to known facts. Don't look to this film as a history lesson. (It is interesting to note that this is one of the rare Alamo Movies that does bother to portray the Battle of San Jacinto)
Griffith, in producing this movie, conveniently forgot how may of the Alamo defenders were Mexican citizens. Bowie was anglo but had a Mexican wife and was a citizen. SO for that matter were most, anglo or hispanic. He set the tone for bad relations between the races for years to come. This is portrayed most viciously in two manners. During the fall, a Mexican soldier bayonettes a young toddler, seemingly for the fun of it. Also, a blond woman is saved so that Santa Anna "the notorious drug fiend" can have his carnal way with her. Uh, Uh.
One of the "funnier" things about this movie is the headgear. Almost all of the Alamo defenders wear coon skin caps like Davy Crocket. That makes identifying Crocket difficult sometimes. In a similar manner, most of the the Mexicans, except for the high official wearing cocked hats, have incredibly tall shakos. I thought that was just a "movie thing" until I saw one in a museum and they were that tall.
Now that I have thorougly bashed this film, there are some good things to say about it. The production values are state of the art for 1915 and the print made into a DVD is much better quality than most from that age. The music that accompanies it evokes the era of the silent film well. There are a few historical snippets that are true and seldom portrayed. The battle sequences are pretty good for that day and age also.
For Alamo buffs, this film is a "must have". In addition to "Martyrs" the DVD also contains 2 short Alamo films and one about the recovery of one of them. None of these is particularly good in its own right but they are interesting for buffs.
If you want epic Alamo drama, choose the John Wayne version. If you want history, try the Imax version. If you just want to see the oldest thing still extant about the Alamo (and can hold your nose for the racism) choose this one.
WORTH THE MONEY AS A COMPARISON OF OTHER ALAMO FILMS.
EVEN HAS LOCALS DOING A LOCAL 1930'S LOW BUDGET FILM AND A
1976 CARTOON. NICE ITEM AT A NICE PRICE
The guy playing Santa Anna in brownface is brilliantly wicked (as far as silent movie acting goes).