By JUAN CASTILLO
If you’re a fan of Hollywood blockbusters and bygone Hollywood glamour, you are probably a fan of “Giant,” the 1956 sweeping saga of a Texas ranching dynasty. “Giant” starred Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean.
Now comes “Children of Giant,” the PBS documentary by local celebrated filmmaker Hector Galán, The film premieres Friday, April 17 at 9 p.m. on KLRU in Austin, Texas. There was also a sneak preview April 2 at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican Cultural Center in Austin.
Recently I saw the documentary and interviewed Galán for a piece for NBC News. Galán revisits the making of director George Stevens’ classic “Giant” in Marfa, and explores how the film reflected and transformed the lives of the town’s Anglo and Mexican-American residents. Indeed, “Giant” was a daring and groundbreaking film for its depictions of prejudice and racial intolerance in Texas and the Southwest.
“Giant” was based on Pulitzer Prize winning author Edna Ferber’s controversial novel by the same name. In “Children of Giant,” Austin’s Wanda Garcia reflects on how Ferber, fiercely curious about the segregation and isolation of Mexican Americans in Texas, visited for long periods with her father, Hector P. Garcia, the founder of the American G.I. Forum.
A fascinating and tender ode to the Mexican American experience and the prejudices our ancestors overcame in 1950s Texas, “Children of Giant” is a film well worth watching.
Juan Castillo is an award-winning writer and journalist based in Austin, Texas. His work has been featured in newspapers, publications and media sites, including the Austin American-Statesman, The (McAllen) Monitor, Giving City Magazine and EJ-USA. Castillo is a former John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. He blogs at jcastillo.me where this column first appeared. It is republished here with permission from the author.