Sam Houston’s Retreat

Docu-drama with James Blue as Sam Houston, or “History that appeals to the imagination.” – J.Frank Dobie, Texas Folklorist

Sam Houston’s Retreat is a film about making a historical film. Historical markers located along the roads in Texas began my interest in the project, which was eventually filmed on actual historical sites using letters, newspapers and diaries instead of a conventional script. The film is about heroes and leaders and is structured in three parts.

Part one: History, the Game:

A playful section about the reenactment of the battle of San Jacinto, the battle that made Houston a hero. With a handful of reenactors from the Texas Army and a cutting horse called Crimbo we walked the ground at San Jacinto.

Part two: History, the Investigation:

Explores the conspiracy theory that Houston was working in cooperation with President Andrew Jackson to make it appear to the world that Mexico was attempting to invade the United States.

Part three: History, the challenge:

To believe, the film demands that the audience recognize the difference between the self-destructive heroism of the Alamo and the more calculating heroism of Houston, who in the end helped to bring about a new nation. The final image of the film shows Houston spitting tobacco juice. A contemptuous and defiant gesture reflecting the anger of all leaders.

Behind the scenes:

“I guess you could say, reflecting back on it, that the film examined the idea of heroism from our vantage point in the time of Richard Nixon. Watergate was just a couple of years back when we started that film. That had caused quite a cloud.” –B.H.

Production details:
44 mins. Super 8 MM film transferred to video tape.