Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Death March of De Soto

After years of looking I finally found a copy of "The Death March of De Soto" episode form the Archaeology television series of the early 1990's. The video, actually a combination of "Death March" and a related"Florida's Lost Empire" retitled as Gold, God and Glory was only $0.98 + shipping and even if it was VHS how could I resist. So the tape arrived and dug through the garage to find a working VHS player and got a chance to check it out since I hadn't seen it since its original airing c.1992. I recalled specifically seeing a recreation of the 'Battle of Mabila' sequence and I wanted to check it out.

The credits note Bruce Kuerten and Auburn University television for the De Soto recreation segments, which were all too short. I'm pretty sure this was all stock footage from a couple of films by the aforementioned Mr. Kuerten, Lost in Time and First Frontier, also known as the 'Auburn film' in the Florida reenactment community c.198; well before I got into it. I've tried to get those films via interlibrary loan on a couple of occasions to no avail (per the local reference librarian, due to theft problems old irreplaceable tapes don't tend to get loaned out) not can I find an online version much less a DVD. Perhaps someday I 'll get a chance to review the whole thing.

From what I could see of the all too brief segment, a couple of minutes at best with voice over narration the Mabila set looked pretty impressive, the Native American warriors were reasonable in appearance , the Spaniards looked a little more 1560's than 1540's, i.e. combed morions and high crested burgonets and some later style 16th C. clothing as well. in fact I suspect some of the same armor, weapons, and actors as well -were used on the St. Augustine Dream of Empire/Struggle to Survive project also from the early 1980's. I may at some point try to freeze fram it an play spot the reenactor, I'm pretty sure I spotted, much younger versions of Brian Bowman and Bob Hall.

For someone like me who's been studying the subject since about the time this show was produced in 1992, I didn't really learn anything new. Most of the talking heads on the show have since retired from academia. The skeletal wound shots were fascinating, if morbid and all too brief. At least there wasn't any staged archaeology were the cameras happen to be when the big discovery is made.

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