You have heard of Davy Crockett, “King of the Wild Frontier.” Alligator-Horses tells the story of David Crockett, the U.S. congressman who, years before his famous stand at the Alamo, campaigned against Andrew Jackson and fought for the cause of the poor in West Tennessee.
Alligator-Horses, a feature-length documentary film by Brian Huberman and Ed Hugetz, presents a vivid collage of stories and interviews with scholars and historians that reveal the 1830s as a pivotal decade in American history, when a growing underclass first began to struggle against the invisible grip of the “aristocracy” and emerging industrial capitalism.
Retracing Crockett’s political tour of the Northeast and examining the comic almanacs that first popularized him as an urban working class hero, the film recounts lesser known events from the “Age of Jackson,” including early labor strikes organized by women, the rise of the blackface minstrel show, anti-abolitionist riots in New York, and the scandalous murder of a prostitute that evolved into something like an O.J. Simpson trial of its time.
In our present decade, the “Occupy” movement speaks out against man-made forces that create income inequality and secure the status of the “one percent.” Alligator-Horses argues such a division has been present in America for almost 200 years, since a time when the national identity was in the midst of an ornery, anarchistic adolescence.
This experimental documentary, 14 years in the making, may look at a small slice of the American story. But in its weave of past materials into the present, it gives us a larger scope through which to examine history—and, by extension, ourselves.
FILM INTERVIEWS INCLUDE: social historian Eric Lott; New York Times bestselling author David Shields; cultural critic and historian Richard Slotkin; professor emerita of History, American Culture, and Women’s Studies, Carroll Smith-Rosenberg; historian, author and former New York firefighter Capt. William Groneman…and many more.
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