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USA: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
UK: Buena Vista International UK
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Billy Bob Thornton, Jason Patric, Patrick Wilson, Emilio Echevarria, Jordi Molla, Leon Rippy, Tom Davidson, Marc Blucas, Robert Prentiss, Kevin Page, Joe Stevens, Stephen Bruton, Laura Clifton, Ricardo A Chavira, Steven Chester Prince, Craig Erickson, Nick Kokich, Richard Nance, Jett Garner, Estephania Lebaron, Afemo Omilami, Edwin Hodge, Emily Deschanel, Blue Deckert, Turk Pipkin, Brandon Smith, Tommy G Kendrick, W Earl Brown, Tom Everett, Rance Howard, Stewart Finlay-Mclennan, Matt O'Leary, John S Davies, Kit Gwin, Castulo Guerra, Francisco Philibert, Mauricio Zatarain, Flavio Hinojosa, Hugo Perez, Jesus Mayorga, Hector Garcia, Roland Uribe, Ruben G Rojas, Lanell Pena, Michael Crabtree, Anna Reyes, Sonia Montoya, Elena Hurst, Lynn Mathis, Charles Sanders, Rutherford Cravens, Dameon Clarke, Tim Mateer, Nathan Price, Don Javier Castillo, Lonnie Rodriguez, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Buck Taylor, Oscar D Silva, Marc Menchaca, Safia Gray, Eric Montoya, Michael Clossin, Robert Bassetti, Nathan Walker, Philip Neilson, Keith Woulard
Director: John Lee Hancock
UK: 136 mins
USA Rated: PG-13 for sustained intense battle sequences
UK Certificate: 12A contains intense battle violence
USA Release Date: 9 April 2004
UK Release Date: 3 September 2004
From director John Lee Hancock and Oscar®-winning producers Mark Johnson and Ron Howard comes an epic motion picture event, the dramatic true story of one of the most momentous battles in American history. THE ALAMO is the tale of a handful of men who stood up for what they believed in and made the ultimate sacrifice against an overwhelming force.
In the spring of 1836, in the face of insurmountable odds, fewer than 200 ordinary men who believed in the future of Texas held the fort for 13 days against thousands of Mexican soldiers led by dictator General Antonio López de Santa Anna (Emilio Echevarria), ruler of Mexico.
Commanded by three men - the young, brash Lt. Col. William Travis (Patrick Wilson); the zealous, passionate James Bowie (Jason Patric); and the living legend David Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton) - the Texans would die for their beliefs, but their deeds at the Alamo would make history as General Sam Houston's (Dennis Quaid) emotional rallying call for Texas independence. The film is written by Leslie Bohem and Oscar®-winner Stephen Gaghan and John Lee Hancock.
The True Story
It has long been recognized as the most celebrated military engagement in Texas history. Some historians have called the Alamo the "cradle of Texas liberty," but its origins were that of a Franciscan mission of San Antonio de Valero. The mission was founded on May 1, 1718 by Gov. Martin de Alarcon in San Antonio (then the northern-most area of the Spanish territory known as Mexico) to help Spain Christianize the native population.
The mission fell into disrepair and ruin in the latter part of the century, and was secularized in 1793. In 1801, a Spanish cavalry unit known as Alamo de Parras occupied the buildings (which consisted of a series of conventual structures, a large, roofless church and semi-fortified walls that enveloped the mission) and converted the edifice into a fort and military barracks in defense against the French from the Louisiana territory and gave the building its new name. Mexican troops subsequently settled into the fort around 1821, when Mexico seceded from Spain.
From the late 1600s, Spanish colonial authorities had made attempts to settle the area known as the province of Tejas, a name coined by a tribe of Caddoan Indians from the word teychas, meaning 'friends'. As the Spanish administration waned, they offered land grants to encourage people to settle the environs now known as Texas.
In 1821, Gen. Augustin de Iturbide led Mexico in its war of independence from Spain - and crowned himself Emperor the next year, and was ousted in 1823 by a liberal Mexican faction whose participants included a ruthless politician and soldier, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna Perez de Lebron. The secession included the vast land holdings which encompassed the northernmost state of Coahuila-y-Tejas.
In an effort to promote economic growth and civilize this frontier territory, Mexico formed a constitutional government in 1824 and granted land and tax advantages to Anglos, encouraging their move to the state. The only proviso: become Mexican citizens and Roman Catholics. Many came and accepted those terms. And, while Santa Anna boosted his influence (he was elected President in 1833), it became evident that his true goal was to become dictator. He closed the borders, sent occupational troops into the state, and dismantled the Mexican Congress of 1824, which had been patterned after that in Washington, D.C.
In an effort to enforce their rights as subjects of Mexico to form their own republic, the citizens of Coahuila-y-Tejas -- Anglo and Tejano -- began to organize a provisional government.
Sensing turmoil, discontent and a potential violent uprising (initiated by a deadly skirmish in the town of Gonzales between the Mexican army and local settlers), the citizens prepared for war. The first command - attack Gen. Martin Perfect de Cos (Santa Anna's brother-in-law) and his troops and oust them from Bexar and the Alamo, which Cos had fortified with the addition of some cannon emplacements. Cos ultimately surrendered in December, 1835, at the Battle of Bexar, and the Texians secured the town and the fort. After Santa Anna learned that Texian forces had defeated the Mexican troops at San Antonio, he personally commanded an army against the rebels, marching 360 miles through ravaging winter weather in just thirty days.
Gen. Sam Houston (commander-in-chief of the Texian army), although admiring the victory staged by the Texian settlers at Bexar and the Alamo, had no intention of sacrificing more troops to the savage Santa Anna. Houston, knowing that the dictator was planning an invasion of Texas, questioned the wisdom of maintaining the garrison at the Alamo, and informed his officers to abandon the mission, feeling it was impossible to defend against such formidable forces. Lt. Col. James C. Neill, part of the effort to rid Bexar of Gen. Cos, yielded his commanding post to a young, inexperienced, 26 year-old Alabama soldier and lawyer named William Barret Travis. He, along with Col. James Bowie (an acquaintance of Houston), the legendary frontiersman Davy Crockett, and almost 200 other volunteers defied Houston's orders and stayed at the Alamo.
On February 23, 1836, Santa Anna's forceful army, numbering somewhere around 2,400 men, arrived in Bexar and immediately occupied the town and besieged the Alamo. When the Mexican Gen. Cos surrendered the Alamo in December, he left behind a number of cannons, including the powerful 18-pounder, which the Texian troops used to ward off Santa Anna's first attempts to siege the fort. For twelve days, the Alamo's defenders stood vigorously against the Mexican troops. Early (approximately 5:30 am) on the morning of Sunday, March 6, Santa Anna's troops stormed the fort's north wall. The general ordered that no prisoners be taken. At sunrise, the brief, 90-minute battle ended, and all 189 Texians (an approximation) lay dead, but not before gallantly defending the fort and killing several hundred Mexican soldiers (no exact count has ever been substantiated).
These casualties weakened Santa Anna's campaign while the deaths at the Alamo unified surviving Tejanos (most prominently, Juan Seguin) and Texians alike toward one goal - avenging the massacres at the Alamo and Goliad. Fortifying his own troops as he marched eastward across Texas, Gen. Houston refined his plans to defend the province, leading six weeks later to a violent confrontation on the banks of the San Jacinto River.
On April 21, Houston, leading his charge of 910 pioneers with the cry of "Remember the Alamo," surprised Santa Anna and defeated the merciless Mexican general in the hostile engagement fought at San Jacinto near present-day Houston. The victory at the Battle of San Jacinto, which lasted only eighteen minutes, resulted in the killing, wounding or capture of the entire Mexican force (statistically, of the general's 1,500+ soldados, 630 died, 208 were wounded and 730 were taken prisoner). Gen. Santa Anna's surrender to Houston led to the Treaty of Velasco, giving Texas its independence. On December 29, 1845, Texas became the nation's 28th state in the Union.
Since 1905, the Alamo's existing church (that iconic wall and one of only two remaining sections of the original fortress) has been maintained as an historic site and museum in downtown San Antonio under the patronage of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. It remains to this day one of the country's most popular tourist destinations, attracting over 2,500,000 visitors annually.