The Alamo: The Price of Freedom is the Rivercenter IMAX’s signature film. Based an a book George McAlister, the film was shot in the summer of 1987 at the set of John Wayne’s movie set outside of Brackettville, Texas. The film opened in 1988 and has been shown daily for more than twenty years.
When asked by visitors about The Alamo: The Price of Freedom, I tell them that it is “the best dramatization of the traditional story” available on film. It has good production value. It doesn’t demonize Mexicans. It reminds viewers of the traditional Alamo legends, which have a place in understanding the appeal and significance of the Alamo story.
James Butler Bonham’s Ride
Evidence shows that Bonham had in fact left the Alamo prior to Santa Anna’s arrival and was not present at San Antonio on February 23, 1836. Bonham did return to the Alamo on March 3, carrying a letter by Robert M. Williamson which implored Travis “For God’s sake, hold out until we can assist you.”
Santa Anna-Cos Brother-in-Law Relationship
Santa Anna's motive for traveling to San Antonio and attacking the Alamo is important. San Antonio was the traditional seat of political power in Texas and regaining control of the city was vital to reestablishing control over the rebellious region. Additionally, San Antonio sat astride one of the main routes through Texas. Controlling strategic and politically important locations are prime objectives in any military campaign.
No Help Was Coming
One question frequently asked about the Battle of the Alamo is why did not more Texans answer Travis' poignant pleas for help. The arrival of the Gonzales Ranging Company on the morning of March 1, 1836, is the only documented instance of assistance. The letter from Robert M. Williams that Bonham delivered to Travis on March 3 promised that more help was on the way. Much scorn has been heaped on Colonel James W. Fannin, whose 400-man battalion remained at Goliad, only 100 miles away. Fannin's detractors ignore the fact that he also faced an advancing Mexican column and could not leave his post unguarded. Travis' letters were effective in bringing recruits to the field. More than 300 volunteers had gathered at Gonzales in preparation to march to the Alamo's relief when news of its fall reached the town. Thus, it wasn’t that nobody was coming to help, they just didn’t reach the Alamo in time. Interestingly, it was this collection of men that formed the nucleus of Sam Houston's army that eventually defeated Santa Anna at San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.
Travis and the Line
The story of Travis and the line did not surface until 1873 when it appeared in the Texas Almanac as part of an article entitled “The Escape of Rose from the Alamo.” The author, William P. Zuber, was fifteen-years-old at the time of the Texas Revolution. He served in the Texas Army in the San Jacinto Campaign. He contended that, while he was in the army, Moses Rose appeared at his parents’ house and told them that he had escaped from the Alamo. It was from his parents, from the story told by Rose, that Zuber reconstructed Travis’ speech and line drawing. Zuber immediately came under attack by many Texans who did not believe his story. Zuber later admitted that he fabricated part of the story but didn’t identify his own modifications.
The Alamo Bought Houston Time to Build an Army
The notion that the men of the Alamo died buying time for Sam Houston to build an army is well-entrenched in Alamo lore, but a review of Houston's activities shows it to be unfounded. On November 12, 1835, the Consultation (the provisional government of Texas) appointed Sam Houston Commanding-General of the Texas Army. His authority, however, extended over the regular army, leaving him unable to legally issue orders to the volunteers already in the field. Houston dispatched recruiters to raise the regular army as well as agents to acquire arms, uniforms, and other supplies. With no troops to command, Houston received a furlough on January 28 in order to take care of personal business. He spent part of his leave conducting negotiations with the Cherokee Indians. With a treaty successfully concluded, Houston rode to Washington-on-the-Brazos, where he served as a delegate to the constitutional convention, remaining there until March 6. During his stay, the new government reconfirmed his appointment as commanding-general of the Texas Army, giving him control over all troops: regulars and volunteers. Houston arrived at Gonzales on March 11 to lead a relief expedition to San Antonio but by then the Alamo had already fallen. Thus, during the siege Houston was not building an army but engaged in other important business.
The following is a list of some of the historical figures that can be identified in the film: James C. Neill, William B. Travis, James Bowie, David Crockett, Juan Seguín, López de Santa Anna, Susanna Dickinson, Angelina Dickinson, Joe, Ben, Toribio Losoya, Gregorio Esparza, and James Allen.