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They remembered the Alamo

August 10, 2003|John Horn | Times Staff Writer

It's show business custom to lie about your age. But when you make a historical movie such as "The Alamo," fudging the truth can land you in deep trouble.

Having witnessed "The Hurricane," whose factual sloppiness cost the film dearly, the filmmakers telling the story of the legendary 1836 siege of Anglo Celtic colonists by Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna's Mexican army have toiled to make their film as accurate as possible. Among the touches of verisimilitude, director John Lee Hancock ("The Rookie") and his production team enlisted Amish artisans to handcraft cannon wheels and hired an on-set academic to spot Spanish-language anachronisms. Principal photography on the film was completed in June, with the movie due in theaters Dec. 25.

In some instances -- such as where the Alamo's biggest weapon, an 18-pound cannon, was located -- the filmmakers had to choose from among many conflicting opinions. "One of the things I learned early on is that I couldn't worry about Texas historians disagreeing with me," production designer Michael Corenblith ("Apollo 13") says. "Because they all disagree with each other."

All the same, this is a story that, unlike "The Hurricane," "Pearl Harbor" and "A Beautiful Mind," will stay as close to historical consensus as possible. "Remember, he's a Texan," producer Mark Johnson says of Hancock. "He doesn't want to screw this up."

Here's a look at the movie set -- and how it stacks up against historical reality.

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