There are two things which have tormented me for most of my adult life
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The 70mm Newsletter
|Written by: “Alamo” Ray Panavas||Date: 01.06.2009|
|"The Alamo" in Paris's "Spaciovision" Broadway cinema around 1977/78. Photographer unknown.|
There are two things which have tormented me for most of my adult life. The first is this never ending quest for truth, justice and the American way which can make life a living Hell in this twisted, greed driven world. The second is the recurring dream wherein I die, very violently, by the sword, bayonet or spear --usually right through the heart and by more than one sharp instrument of destruction.
Being one of the lucky ones to witness the rebirth of John Wayne's "The Alamo", in its magnificent, full-length version cleared up an awful lot of what's been on my mind all these years.
For all the gun play that takes place in "The Alamo", a lot of those we learn to love and respect during the 202 minute film, end up dying by the sword --like right through the middle of the heart and in full, living color . Even the Duke takes a lance through the chest and judging by the look on his face in the extended play version of this film, it sure does hurt.
I'd seen "The Alamo" as a kid, but like Bob Bryden mentioned, it was in all probability the 160 minute, scaled down model. Then there was the Walt Disney Alamo with Fess Parker and the gang to muddy up the mind. So it was with some sense of "I don't really want to do this but I promised Bob" that I got up at 6 a.m. that fateful Saturday to go to what turned out to be another turning point in my life. Forget that there were a couple of guys in the audience who had searched for this uncut version for the better part of their adult lives.
Forget the joy one felt as they expressed their surprise, excitement and whatever else it was they were expressing when they realized within minutes of the screening that this was it -- the Holy Grail. Forget the unbelievable quality of the print, the sound, and the scope of 70mm.
All that matters to me is that like Dorothy I was suddenly transported to my own personal Oz -- a place where make believe and reality jell to the point where it makes no sense trying to figure out what's real and what's not. This is a noble film. Whether it's a great film or not really doesn't matter a whit. The nobility, however, will make it last forever
It's too bad kids today don't have the advantage of seeing something as BIG as John Wayne's "The Alamo". It's too bad their lives are not shaped the way Bob Bryden's and mine were by this film --and for me it was the 160 minute job which put me on a collision course with a fight which most people believe is hopeless, pointless and totally useless. Imagine what a case I'd be had l seen the full run. There's something to be said for young people who go around emulating a man who ends up with a spear through the heart but still manages to blow up the ammunition so the enemy can't use it against any other Texicans. And this guy was from Tennessee.
|More in 70mm reading:|
"The Alamo" lost 70mm version - This letter which started it all
The Finding Of The Lost Alamo
Remember the Alamo?
November 24, 1990: In Retrospect
I Was There
One Morning In November
An Update On The Long Version
The Reconstruction and Restoration of John Wayne's "The Alamo"
"The Alamo" articles and letters appeared in "The Spirit of the Epic" magazine in June 1990. Reprinted here with permission from Robert Bryden
|Danish trade advert from 1959. Editors collection.|
l know to some degree what it cost Bob, especially in his longhair years because l felt some of that pain too, but in a different way. But it's not something you can easily escape and we can thank God for that.
I've been challenged to put together some words about what seeing "The Alamo" meant to me. Well for one thing, seeing the movie is probably responsible for my decision to rise to this challenge. As a matter of fact, since that private screening, it seems my life has turned into a succession of meeting big and little challenges. There are times when the knives and swords are pointed right at my heart and yet I no longer fear them the way l once did.
In my recurring dream I usually found myself the last guy in the fort, surrounded by hostiles and out of ammunition. l had a sword but they had spears, lots and lots of spears. The dream ended with half a dozen or so of those spears passing right through my heart and smashing into the wall behind me. Sound familiar Mr. Bowie.
There is a price to pay when fighting for what you believe in -- just ask the guys who rented that theatre and the movie on the word of some crazy guy from Canada who thought he'd found (maybe) the lost American treasure. There's a price to pay for everything and living the life of "The Alamo" doesn't come easy.
Sure you're constantly fighting Santa Anna's army of thousands and Sam Houston is just a promise which isn't likely to come true -- in time for you at any rate. Sure the battle is hopeless and surrender makes all the sense in the world. Sure, cut, slash and run sounds like a lot more promising way of staying alive than holding the fort so Houston can put an army together to win some other day.
Seeing "The Alamo", the real Alamo, taught me something I should have known all along.lt takes courage to die for what you believe it. But it takes a lot more courage to live for what you believe in.
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|German poster by Schauburg Kino, Karlsruhe|
There are days when I don't feel like getting up to go to work as a journalist -- lots and lots of days. But something makes me keep bashing my head against the wall and that something is the spirit I found alive and well at the screening of the Real "The Alamo".
There were kids there. There were religious people, movie people, crazy Alamo people and just people who were Bob's friends and lucky enough to witness some history -- both in the finding of the full feature film and seeing the story of the Alamo itself. But the one thing most of us have in common is desire to do things well, to see things through and not give up regardless of how hopeless the odds.
I have disliked John Wayne for most of my adult life because he represented all that l believed reprehensible in the Republican way of life. But his portrayal of Davy Crockett is so inspiring, especially in the long version of the movie, as to make one forget that Wayne wasn't a particularly good actor and a man prone to "America Love it or Leave It" jingoism.
"The Alamo" is many things to many people, but for me it stands as a good example of the way a man should die. What could be more noble, more pointed than to lay down one's life so that others could be free. "On this blue ridge mountain, there I'll take my stand, rifle on my shoulder, six shooter in my hand."
It's an onerous prospect, but it is very real for those who choose to take the message of "The Alamo" seriously. We are free because there were men willing to do just that.
John Wayne captured that, and more, in this cut up and often forgotten film. All the more reason to make sure it is restored to its glory.
We need more leaders, more heros like Crockett, Bowie and yes, even the stuck-up Travis, if we have any hope of keeping this freedom thing going. Good luck to all of you In your endeavors as you struggle to make this film available for all to see. It sure will be worth it if you succeed. And if you don't, well it's not like somebody stuck a spear in you. Or is it?
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