Do not be put off by the fact that this CBS miniseries was directed by a woman, based on a book by a woman and starred women in the leading roles. Women of course had a huge say in the founding of the early American west. How could they not? The book "True Women" was written by Janice Woods Windle and is based on research into Windle's own ancestors, hence the title. The film spans many decades from the Texas war of Independence from Mexico, briefly mentioning the Alamo and San Jacinto right through to the Indian uprisings, the Civil war and of course the women's suffrage movement. Quite a span of history to bridge and the sort of thing that is very reminiscent of the epic American writer James Michener's work, especially "Centennial". This is really the story of Texas the Lone Star State, and redresses the balance for women who played an equal part in its formation. Texas has a rich and proud history which is certainly worth telling!
The film is helped by the fact that it was actually filmed on location in Texas itself, which shows. The cast is pretty strong, lead by the very beautiful Angelina Jolie, and even using the very English actor Michael York as a southern gentleman. Powers Booth provides a strong brooding presence as a stalwart Texas ranger. John Schneider from "The Dukes of Hazard" interestingly appears as as Sam Huston. The story follows the fortunes of friends Euphemia and Georgia as they take different paths through Texas history. It also covers the topical subject of slavery. Made back in 1997 someone has had the good idea of putting the series onto one DVD. It is clear from watching the film that a lot has had to be cut, and that shows at times. A pity that we did not see a little more about the Comanche wars and how the friendship built on mutual respect grew between the Comanche chief Tarantula and the two sisters Euphemia and Sarah. We also saw little of Texas founding father Sam Huston which surprised me given how largely he loomed over Texan history. But never mind, for a whistle stop tour of Texas history in just under two and a half hours it is not bad. Jolie steals the show as the flamboyant Geogia in typical breezy Hollywood fashion. A choice role that she revels in it!
I would like to have seen the whole miniseries because it seems to be a decent effort. I was reminded of Olive Carey's words in John Ford's magisterial western "The Searchers" set in Texas. "It just so happens we be Texicans. Texican is nothin' but a human man way out on a limb, this year and next. Maybe for a hundred more. But I don't think it'll be forever. Some day this country's gonna be a fine good place to be. Maybe it needs our bones in the ground before that time can come". Some great lines in a fine film, and sentiments that this film does it's best to echo. Given the paucity of good western fare around at the moment this one is well worth catching. Much better than I expected! A generous four stars! This is just a bare bones DVD with no extras.