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THE ALAMO

Review by Chastity Campbell

Narrators: Dennis Quaid, Kenny Rogers
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Video: 1.33:1 Standard Fullscreen Color, and Black & White
Studio: A&E
Features: See Review
Length: 240 Minutes
Release Date: December 30th, 2003

ďREMEMBER THE ALAMO!Ē

Film ***

I believe it was during one of my junior high school history classes that I first heard the phrase, ďRemember The Alamo!Ē  Well unfortunately, I didnít remember much about what happened at the Alamo until I popped in these DVDs.   So much of our nationís history cannot be appreciated until you are older and wiser.  While I hate to admit that Iím getting older, I donít mind getting wiser.  

This box set contains two DVDs with four documentaries that link together to give you a wider picture of the battle of the Alamo, the people who fought there, and what came after. 

The first DVD contains two documentaries, Remember The Alamo and The Real West: The Battle Of The Alamo, narrated by Dennis Quaid, who coincidentally will be appearing in the feature film The Alamo, coming to theatres sometime in 2004. 

Both of these documentaries take you inside the Alamo, before and after the battle.  Through black and white still photographs and re-enactments you will take a visual journey back in time and watch as one of the western frontierís most historical battles builds and unfolds.

The narration by Dennis Quaid is steady, and despite being monotone at times, very interesting.   The photographs will help you more easily identify with the events taking place on screen, but the narration does fill in historical gaps that help things make sense over all.

The second DVD in this box set deals with the Alamo indirectly and directly at the same time. 

Davy Crocket: American Frontier Legend is a biographical piece on the life of Mr. Crocket, and the mystery surrounding his death at the battle of the Alamo.  Again old photographs and re-enactments make you feel as though your walking his lifeís path right along with him as he struggles to survive and prosper in the ever changing landscape of 1800ís America. 

The Real West: The Texas Rangers was for me the most interesting out of the four presentations in this box set. 

Still photographs of the first Rangers who patrolled the frightening and wild Texas landscape after it was liberated from the Mexican dictator Santa Ana, who was the military leader behind the battle of the Alamo, give this story a lot of character. 

The faces of the men in those photographs charged with protecting the families that settled in Texas from Indian war parties and Mexican raiders was a very powerful visual aid to understanding the times they lived in. The re-enactments in this presentation were nice, but it was the photographs that stood out the most.

I enjoyed listening to Kenny Rogers narrate this story.  He has a very good voice for this type of documentary.  He never sounded flat or monotone, and always put emphasis on any individual who was known for a historical act or event.    This helped bring those characters forward, and separate them from the people who were, if youíll excuse the phrase, supporting characters.

A&E has yet to disappoint me with a production, and I honestly hope they never do.  Putting something like this together on this scale, requires a lot of planning, staging, and just in general a lot of hard work.

From the interviews with historians who have made the Alamo and American history their lifeís work, to the journals, letters, and still photographs that take you into the hearts and minds of the individuals who are no longer here to share these stories, everyone will be able to find something about this box set to enjoy.  If you have a history hungry child at home, or are just interested in learning more about this country and the Lone Star state for yourself, you wonít want to miss out on these DVDs!

Video ***

The video quality of these two DVDs was wonderful.  I loved the black and white photos of people and places from the 1800ís.  The still shots of those photos were very nicely done, with a minimal amount of glare from the lighting used to illuminate them for filming.

The re-enactment of the battle itself and the men who participated was vivid, and very clean.  The colors were bright, and the shadows used to good effect.   The battle scene itself was lit very well, keeping a nighttime feel about it, with daytime clarity.

There was a minimal amount of softness to the top edge of disc two.  That disc coincidentally is the one that contains all the features and thus suffers from the amount of compression necessary to hold more information. 

Overall, there was a very nice look and feel to this box set, something A&E excels at in my opinion.

Audio ***

The Alamo may have fallen but at least it sounded great on the way down!

The Dolby Digital Stereo mix on these DVDs was crisp and clear.  There were no drop- outs or disruptions of any kind on either DVD. 

From the announcer, the voiceovers, and individual re-enactment scenes the audio levels were steady and balanced.  The sound effects were minimal but all were clear, and noticeably present when used.  

Features **

Volume 1 contains only interactive menus, and scene selection, but have no fear, volume 2 is here!

The second disc in this two DVD set contains the lions share of the extras. 

An Introduction and Conclusion to Remember the Alamo featuring Dennis Quaid is ready and waiting when you pop this one in.  

Remember The Alamo A Behind The Scenes Featurette is chock full of information and inside looks at the up and coming feature film, The Alamo, starring Dennis Quaid and Billy Bob Thornton. 

An interactive timeline of the events that took place during the fall of the Alamo is only a click away, and are other interactive menus, and scene selections.

Summary:

With a minimal amount of extras, this two disc set still manages to entertain and inform in true A&E style.  This pictorial look at such an important event in our nationís history will make a nice addition to anyoneís DVD collection.