See and learn about University of Houston – Downtown’s Ed Hugetz film festival, featuring several of our films.
February 17, 2017
University of Houston-Downtown
One Main Building, 3rd Floor
Paralleling the work of the cultural historians it includes (e.g. important figures like Carroll-Smith Rosenberg, Eric Lott, and Richard Slotkin), Brian Huberman and Ed Hugetz’s documentary Alligator-Horses writes a cultural history of the violence and class warfare on which the United States has been built. Alligator-Horses may be seen as a chronicle of the dispossessed white male, a figure that moves between poles of savagery and civilization in a contest over the role and definition of masculinity in the United States. Primarily focusing on 1830-1840, the period during which the United States moves toward industrial capitalism, Hugetz and Huberman tell their story through archival materials like almanacs, maps, paintings and penny newspaper stories.
Though – like Ken Burns – they use archival sources to document and depict a time long gone, Hugetz and Huberman resist Burns’ linear style of storytelling in favor of a thematic Eisensteinian montage approach in which events depicted “don’t belong together and certainly didn’t happen one after another” (Huberman and Hugetz). As Huberman’s daughter tells him after seeing a rough cut of the film, only the unifying figure of Davy Crockett keeps the movie’s broad cast of characters from becoming a set of historical footnotes. She suggests Alligator Horses be seen as a dance – specifically, a square dance (and you’ll hear Hugetz talk about what this means for the film’s structure).