James A. Michener’s Texas

If you can get past the fact that this is television film filled with stars or semi-stars from the 90s and looks rather grainy in comparison to the crystal picture of today then you might enjoy Richard Lang’s (directed episodes of Melrose Place and Beverly Hills, 90210) take on author James A. Michener’s book.  Admittedly I went into this not knowing that much about the history of the state of Texas.  I did learn that the cities of Austin and Houston were named after real live people.  Plus I got to learn a little bit about the historical figures Jim Bowie (David Keith – An Officer and a Gentleman, Behind Enemy Lines) and Davy Crockett (John Schneider – from television’s The Dukes of Hazzard).  After all is said and done, though, I’m not sure the meager history lesson learned warranted three hours of my time.

The Southwestern frontier of the United States was in process of expanding at the beginning of the 19th century.  Brave men, women and families made the long trek out to Texas to find their fortunes.

At that time Texas was a province of Mexico.  The Mexicans were having difficulty settling the vast territory now known as the state of Texas so they invited American citizens to settle there.  General Santa Anna (Lloyd Battista – from television’s Mannix) invited Stephen Austin to begin a colony and provided him with the authority to give land to the white settlers.  They became known as Texicans.  The Anglo-Saxon settlers learned to co-exist with the Mexican population.

As the years went on despite Stephen Austin’s (Patrick Duffy – from television’s Dallas) best efforts conflicts arose between the Mexicans and the settlers.  Despite Austin and Sam Houston’s (Stacy Keach – The Bourne Legacy, American History X) best efforts disputes arose.  The conflicts grew and soon there was the Texas Revolution and the famous Battle of the Alamo.

It is always a large undertaking for a film to take on a period in history.  There will always be things that have to be left out due to time constraints and actual historical events that will be slightly altered or changed completely for dramatic effect.  I will not nitpick about these sorts of things, but I will draw the line in the sand when acting and cinematography are substandard.  There are a couple of good actors in the film like Rick Schroder, David Keith and Stacy Keach, but the others are more suitable for B movies in that they are overly dramatic or completely underplay their characters.  As for the cinematography I could not believe it and I don’t mean that in a good way.  Some of the scenes, especially the fight scenes, looked like they came out of films done over forty years ago.  Did they use some stock footage?  Because that is what it looked like at times.  The camera work itself was shaky and shoddy.

Narrated by famous gun enthusiast Charlton Heston, the television mini-series blends historical figures with fictional ones to make up the story of the formation of the state of Texas between the years 1821 and 1846.  Like most history lessons this is a little slow going at times with the story plodding ahead at the speed of a tired donkey.

Special Features:

-Trailer

-Extended Promo

-The Making of James A. Michener’s Texas

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