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PBS Home Video presents
Remember the Alamo (2004)

"The irony is that the Alamo is seen as a strictly Anglo-Texan vs. Mexican dynamic, when in reality Tejanos initiated the independence movement."
- Andres Tijerina

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: April 26, 2004

Director: Joseph Tovares

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 00h:53m:00s
Release Date: April 27, 2004
UPC: 097368778641
Genre: documentary


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- BBB+ B-

DVD Review

Prior to viewing Remember The Alamo, part of the PBS series American Experience, I don't think I would have been alone in what passed for my casual knowledge of the battle of the Alamo in Mexican-held Texas of 1836. Thanks to a public school education, it was largely limited to rugged Texan settlers—including the so-called 'holy trinity' of Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, and William Travis—fighting to the death against the army of General Santa Anna in the tiny San Antonio mission.

With Remember the Alamo, writer/director Joseph Tovares has put together an interesting short film that doesn't deny the presence of the exploits of Crocket or Bowie, but reinforces the actual events by reminding us that it wasn't just white settlers that fought Santa Anna, and that scores of Mexican Tejanos (they were kind of fringe-dwellers opposed to the populist rule) also fought against the armies of their own government, something they had been doing for well over 25 years.

Tovares recounts what he openly refers to as "revisionist history", in that the noble actions of Tejano leaders like Jose Antonio Novarro are little known, at least in traditional U.S. history lessons. Using a combination of minimalistic reenactments and input from a number of historians, he is able to rewind the clock and highlight the social and economic situations that preceded the battle of the Alamo by nearly thirty years, and in doing so clearly illustrate that Tejanos had just as much, if not more to lose than did men like Stephen Austin, who was one of the primary forces in expanding the toe hold of U.S. settlers into the region.

One of the things I realized while watching Tovares' film was that I really didn't know that much at all about the Alamo, San Antonio or, for that matter, a basic understanding of the events in general. My fading grade school memories, which oddly chose to simply highlight iconic names like Crockett, completely sidestepped the real battles that were occurring in Texas, long before it became part of the U.S. Tovares has turned a bright light back onto the past, and with big-budget action movies retelling the story of the Alamo, it is probably important to know what actually happened, and not get an education from a screenwriter.

Hey! I learned something. That's a good thing.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Paramount has issued Remember the Alamo in a 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, which was an unexpected surprise. This isn't necessarily the type of project that benefits from a 16x9 presentation, but I always applaud the effort. As for the print, it is understandably clean, with no evidence of dirt or specking. Colors are evenly rendered, and much of the film is steeped in tones of brown or gold.

Nice.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Surround track is one of those surprisingly lively mixes that makes more use of the rears than a lot of feature films do. Ambient effects like gunshots or crowd noise pop out of the rears with a distinctly low key, but welcome presence. Narration and interview segments are clean, with no hiss or crackle.

A Spanish 2.0 track is also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 9 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The sole extra is entitled Interview with the Producer (09m:13s), which is actually comments from Joseph Tovares talking briefly about filming a modestly budgeted documentary, and how he wanted to personally set the record straight about Tejanos and Jose Antonio Novarro.

The disc is cut into 9 chapters, and features optional Spanish subtitles.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Maybe not the most earth-shattering historical revelations, but Joseph Tovares has taught me a thing or two I didn't know before, and I thank him for it.

Worth a peek.

 


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