By BrokenSphere, from Wikimedia Commons

John Sayles ’72 was given the opportunity to muse on the inspirations for eight of his films in a single interview with the Hartford Courant last week. My favorite answer highlights the role brought by the filming of the original (1978) Piranha in Texas in bringing us Sayles’ 1996 classic, Lone Star:

I played a part in ‘Piranha,’ which was shot in San Marcos, Texas … not too far from San Antonio. I took a bus on my day off and went to the Alamo. … That day there was a demonstration by Mexican-Americans, saying ‘Let’s recapture the history; how come we don’t know anything about the Mexicans fighting.’ A lot of Mexicans were inside the Alamo who just happened to not like Santa Anna. That’s not included in the story. So I was doing research about the Alamo and found this strange thing, that the freedom Texans at the Alamo were fighting for was the freedom to own slaves. … I started thinking … that nobody gets to start from scratch. We all come into the world, and these stories are laid on us, religious, cultural stories and legends. At some point, your legends can become something that don’t help you, that kind of drag you down and hurt you and limit the way you think. You need to re-examine those legends…

Clever guy, that John Sayles. If he wants, I suppose we could remember him for his clever little star turn (uncredited) as a soldier, just like we could remember him for the little ditty hesang as a sportswriter in Eight Men Out: “I’m Forever Blowing Ballgames.”

The full interview is a good whirlwind tour of his thinking on a whole stack of classics, including Return of the Secaucus Seven and Lianna. Definitely worth the read.

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