Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Texas Rising: Texas Revolution miniseries

Texas Rising is a 10 hour miniseries about the Texas Revolution against Mexico. It was told in five parts on the History Channel. It starred Bill Paxton as General Sam Houston, Olivier Martinez as General Santa Anna, the “Napoleon of the West,” and Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Emily D. West. Many, many more historical figures of the Texas Revolution are featured. The Texas Revolution took place October 2, 1835 – April 21, 1836. Everyone remembers the Alamo, Texas Rising attempts to bring more of the story to light and reveal the people who fought for independence.

“From the Ashes” (Part 1) begins with the aftermath of the defeat at the Alamo. After receiving the news of the Alamo, Houston and the Texan troops vow revenge and Houston orders Colonel Fannin (played by Rob Morrow) to leave the Goliad fortress in order to combine forces. Fannin refuses. “Fate and Fury” (Part 2) begins as Colonel Fannin finally comes to his senses and orders the retreat, only to be ambushed by the Mexican army lead by General Urrea (played by Alejandro Bracho). Emily West leaves the safety of the Texans camp, gets close to Santa Anna and becomes a spy feeding information to Houston through another spy in the Mexican army. “Blood for Blood” (Part 3) is the story of the final push to San Jacinto as Houston finally has the army’s trust and support. “Vengeance is Mine” (Part 4), April 21, 1836, the Battle of San Jacinto. Houston puts his plan into action as his troops surprise the Mexican Army and catch them unaware. When Santa Anna discovers that his army has lost, he tries to run and disguise himself as an ordinary solider. However, he is soon discovered and brought before Houston.  The final part “Rise of the Republic” portrays the aftermath of the Texans victory. Santa Anna is sent to Washington to meet with President Andrew Jackson (played by Kris Kristofferson). The Texans, riding high on their success, move forward to create their new republic.

As with any film, there are a few historical facts that were portrayed correctly and some that were not. First, Emily D. West was never at the Alamo. She was actually kidnapped by Santa Anna on April 16 at Morgan’s Point, Texas. She is, in fact, a Texan heroine. She is thought to be identified with the folk song, “The Yellow Rose of Texas” for her bravery.  The song was refers to a beautiful “sweetest rose of color.” The song was extremely popular during the Civil War (1861-1865) and the lyrics have been charged without the years. Many historians still believe that the song refers to Emily D. West. Second, Santa Anna was surprised by the attack at San Jacinto because he was otherwise engaged and left the Texans would never attack, let alone defeat him. He also disguised himself as an infantryman. What gave him away was his mean saluting him and referring to him as “el presidente.” Lastly, Santa Anna, I feel, was portrayed fairly correctly. He was referred to as the “Napoleon of the West” and he had an air of confidence about him that lead to his downfall. Napoleon had Waterloo and Santa Anna had San Jacinto.

Despite the historical inaccuracies and liberties taken for dramatic purposes, Texas Rising was an entertaining adventure about important events in Texas history. While some will debate about what did or did not happen, I viewed this miniseries as entertainment about a historical event. Even though you’d expect better accuracies from The History Channel, it still gave insights to what happened after the Alamo and the road to Texan independence. Most movies I’ve seen end with the Alamo or jump ahead to San Jacinto and ignores the events in between. I had never heard of Goliad and the events which happened there. I recommend Texas Rising to anyone who enjoys historical storytelling and old Western gunfights with hero saving the day.