The film was originally conceived by Imagine Entertainment, with Ron Howard in the director's chair and partner Brian Grazer as producer. Russell Crowe was originally cast as Sam Houston, Ethan Hawke as William Barret Travis and Billy Bob Thornton as David Crockett. But there were financial and creative disagreements between Imagine and Disney, particularly with Howard wanting a $200 million budget. Disney rejected Imagine's proposals, and Crowe and Hawke left the project. Disney opted for director John Lee Hancock and a budget between $95â€“107 million. Thornton remained with the project as Crockett, while Howard and Grazer were credited as producers.
The exterior scenes of the film were shot in Texas, between Januaryâ€“June 2003, mostly on Reimers Ranch, near Austin. The film's art direction focused on historical accuracy and verisimilitude; for instance, the mission's chapel facade is not topped with the iconic "hump", an architectural detail added during a restoration years after the battle.
The film was shot in 2003 and scheduled for release in December of that year, but was rescheduled for April 2004.
The depiction of Crockett's fate came from memoirs supposedly written by former Mexican officer JosĂ© Enrique de la PeĂ±a, an officer in Santa Anna's army who fought in the battle. It was the first film to show Crockett executed as a prisoner of war; all others had depicted his death as occurring during the battle. This sparked criticism from many Alamo enthusiasts and some historians given the dubious legitimacy of this account and its origins.
Hancock's version was purported to be the most accurate of all the Alamo films, but various interpretive liberties were taken, such as building the movie-set version of the Alamo chapel facade forward 30 to 40 feet (12 m) more than the extant (and presumably historically correct) structure. According to one of the DVD version's special features, Hancock did this to show the Alamo chapel and interior of the fort all in one shot. It is the largest and most expensive set ever built in North America. It comes in at 51 acres.
Bowie's knife is ornate and extremely large, qualifying as a shortsword by some standards. It has a wood handle, and the blade is further supported by a brass backing extending about two-thirds from the 4-inch-long crossguard to the tip. The blade is about 3 inches at its widest.
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