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Film / The Alamo (2004)

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The Alamo is a 2004 film made by Touchstone Pictures. It was directed by John Lee Hancock and starred Billy Bob Thornton as Davy Crockett.

Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and the Texas militia try to defend the Alamo from General Santa Anna.


This film contains examples of:

  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Several Mexicans are shown desperately trying to communicate with the Texans and surrender in the end, but due to the language barrier (and the heat of the battle) almost none succeed. Travis' slave, as well, once he sees his master fall in battle, retreats to a secluded room, gathers what few belongings he has, and starts reciting "Soy negro, no disparo" in case the Mexicans break in. We never see what happens to himnote .
    • Averted with Crockett, who doesn't beg even after he is told Santa Anna will spare him if he asks for his mercy. He more or less tells him (in front of all his men and generals) to fuck off.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • The tune Crockett plays on his violin in tandem with Degüello, "Listen to the Mockingbird", was not written until 1855, 19 years after the war had ended.
    • The scene where Crockett takes a shot at Santa Anna. In actuality, this was done by Micajah Autry.
    • Santa Anna is portrayed as greying and implied to be on the far side of middle-aged, but he was only in his early forties at the time in real life and contemporary portraits show him with dark hair.
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    • Possibly, regarding Crockett's death. Historians can't seem to agree on how he died. Either he was captured and executed (as the film shows) or he died during the fighting.
    • The way Santa Anna was identified after being captured at San Jacinto. Historically, he was identified by a single Mexican soldier, and his identity was confirmed beyond all doubt when it was discovered he was wearing expensive undergarments. Here, he's identified when a group captured of Mexican soldiers impulsively stand at rapt attention upon seeing him with other captured soldiers, and in a private's uniform, no less.
    • General Castrillon was not bludgeoned to death; he was shot.
    • Juan Seguin and his men put pieces of cardboard in the brims of their hats to avoid being mistaken for Mexican soldiers, not playing cards.
  • Big Bad: Santa Anna.
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  • Big Freaking Gun: The 18-pounder cannon at the Alamo was designed to take on ships. The defenders load it with nails and scrap iron and use it to mow down swaths of Mexican infantry, shotgun-style.
  • Bittersweet Ending: All the Alamo defenders die, but their heroic deaths spur Sam Houston's army into action at San Jacinto, and they win the battle in 18 minutes.
  • Bling of War: Davy Crockett lampshades this aspect of Santa Anna at one point, calling him a peacock.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Travis dies.
  • Deconstruction: David Crockett deconstructs the Living Legend trope.
  • Defiant to the End: Crockett, captured by Santa Anna, is given the opportunity to beg for his life. He responds by calling him "Santanna", joking that he was Expecting Someone Taller, asking to take Santa Anna to Sam Houston so that Santa Anna can surrender, and then on the order of his death, screaming at the top of his lungs at the executing soldiers as he is bayoneted to death.
  • Dirty Coward: Santa Anna tries to flee on horseback during the Battle of San Jacinto. Castrillon sees this and simply turns to face his death at the hands of the onrushing defenders in disgust. When Santa Ana is caught later, in a private's uniform, no less, his men are shown to look completely betrayed.
  • Face Death with Dignity: General Castrillon, as the Texans overwhelm the Mexican camp, which contrasts with Santa Anna's cowardice.
  • Famed In-Story: Both Crockett and Bowie were already legends by the time they get to the Alamo to defend it.
  • Feet of Clay: Crockett expresses the sentiment that he, himself, is an example of this trope, being propped up by public opinion and overblown stories about his so-called exploits. He's not, but it makes for a poignant moment.
  • Final Battle: On the thirteenth day of the siege.
  • Gallows Humor: The defenders are realistic about their odds of survival.
  • Genius Bruiser: Crockett shows himself to be a shrewd tactician and leader in addition to being a badass on the front-lines. He also displays a great deal of wit and guile when dealing with his own men.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: The Mexicans get a lot more sympathy and a scene where their motives are explained, and Bowie is a real Jerkass to his slave.
  • I Gave My Word: Seguin is not thrilled that Houston orders him to stay with his main army instead of returning to the Alamo as promised. He does end up fulfilling his promise in the end, returning to bury the fallen defenders.
  • Insistent Terminology: Crockett prefers David to Davy.
  • Kick the Dog: Santa Anna has a captive Crockett bayonetted to death instead of simply shooting him, and it is implied he does this because he humiliated him in front of his men.
  • Last Stand: The final battle in a nutshell, but there are smaller, minor ones in it.
    • Earlier, the defenders dig "fallback trenches" in case the walls are breached. About halfway through the battle, several seconds of footage show just how many Texians fell back to said trenches only to find themselves backed against a wall, and just be massacred by the Mexicans, averting this trope.
    • A shot toward the end of the final battle of the Alamo shows Crockett and five of his men, backed up and fighting to the last man as the Mexican army rushes toward them. All but Crockett die, and Crockett ends up taken prisoner, before ultimately being put to death himself.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: After the Battle of the Alamo, Santa Ana begins his pursuit of Houston's army, though they are unable to catch up to him. So Santa Ana splits up his army in an attempt to more quickly catch up to him, and also to try and flank. This proves costly, as now with weaker numbers, the Texian army turns right around and takes them completely by surprise, overwhelming them in the Battle of San Jacinto in just 18 minutes.
  • Living Legend:
    • Davy Crockett was a well-known frontiersman, sharpshooter, and Congressman.
    • Jim Bowie had survived an infamous brawl known as the Sandbar Fight where he took on three other men with only his knife to defend himself. Bowie's knife was as legendary as he was.
  • Music for Courage: The Mexican army would always play a fanfare called "Degüello" (Slit Throat) before they started their bombardment. Hours before the last stand Davey Crockett steps up the rafters and plays in harmony with them on his fiddle to boost morale.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: A rebel officer notices General Castrillon getting undeservedly butchered during the battle of San Jacinto and gives a look of pure shame and disgust.
  • Not So Different: The Texan and Mexican soldiers, who are all equally terrified of the bloodbath they know is coming.
  • Oh, Crap!: Travis, when he looks upon the Mexicans surrounding San Antonio de Bexar for the first time, and Crockett, as he stops playing his violin when he hears the Mexican troops approaching the Alamo just before the final attack.
  • One Sided Battle: Only a few hundred men defend the Alamo versus over a thousand Mexicans. The defenders hold out well, until they're overwhelmed in final battle during the climax.
  • Power Trio:
    • The Spock: Travis, the intellectual and well-educated leader trying to do what's right.
    • The McCoy: Bowie, the irrepressible, hotheaded, complete opposite of Travis.
    • The Kirk: Crockett, well-liked by both men, and acts as a mediator between the two.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!: General Castrillon begs Santa Anna to spare Crockett's life. It doesn't work.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: While the Battle of the Alamo was a tactical victory for Santa Anna, several shots show just how many men he lost trying to take it in the end.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Battle of San Jacinto, for both the Alamo and the Battle of Goliad that happened earlier. Until one Mexican general formally surrendered, the battle might have been called a massacre.
  • Rousing Speech: Sam Houston gives one prior to the battle of San Jacinto.
    Gen. Sam Houston: You will remember this battle! You will remember each minute of it! Each second! 'Til the day that you die! That is for tomorrow, gentlemen! For today... REMEMBER THE ALAMO! The hour is at hand!
  • Shrouded in Myth: Davy Crockett had a BIG reputation. Lampshaded when Crockett admits to the temptation to bolt if given the chance, but knows that everyone (including history) is looking at him to be a hero.
  • Smug Snake: Santa Anna.
  • Shown Their Work: The film took Artistic License with some things but overall was very accurate, especially compared to the 1960 version.
  • Tempting Fate: "The Mexican Army would have to march 500 miles in the dead of winter to get here before I return." They do.
  • Token Good Teammate: Mexican General Manuel Castrillon. He wants to reduce Mexican casualties, shows some amount of sympathy for the Texans, begs Santa Anna to spare Davy Crockett's life, and is visibly disgusted by Santa Anna's cruelty and arrogance. Sadly, it doesn't save him from the Texans' wrath at San Jacinto.
  • Villain Song: The Mexican army plays Degüello, which translates to 'slit throat', to tell the Texans that they wouldn't be taking prisoners. Subverted, as they do (temporarily) take Crockett prisoner in the end.
  • War Is Hell: A prominent theme when seen from the defenders' point of view. Most notably seen by Crockett as he comforts a dying Mexican soldier who was desperately trying to crawl back away, and thereafter affecting his mood for the rest of the film, and also discussed by Crockett. When asked about his experience in the Red Stick War. Crockett tells them the story of his experience, where they trapped several Creeks in a house, before deciding to simply burn it down with everyone in it. He describes how everyone inside was cooked alive, and the natural oils of their burning bodies cooked a cache of potatoes, which the hungry militia men then devoured, something that has stuck with Crockett ever since.
    Crockett: Since then, you pass the taters... I pass them right back.
  • Worthy Opponent: It's implied this is part of the reason General Castrillon asks Santa Anna to spare Crockett.
  • We Have Reserves: Santa Anna says to an underling concerned about casualties that he shouldn't worry because soldiers are nothing but "so many chickens".
  • Zerg Rush: Santa Anna's entire strategy in the final assault. It works, but there are multiple wide shots that show how heavy a price the Mexicans paid just getting in.

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