Power's War

2015, History  -  64 min Leave a Comment
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One of Arizona's deadliest shootouts occurred in February of 1918. As the United States began their foray into World War I, the Power family committed the crime of abstaining from the military draft. A family of miners who lived in an isolated cabin in Rattlesnake Canyon, father Jeff and sons Charles, John and Tom were surrounded by law enforcement on the morning of the 10th, and a vicious gun fight ensued. After a few excruciating minutes of unrelenting gunfire, the children were wounded and several others were dead, including three officers and the patriarch of the Power clan. "Power's Tale" attempts to unravel the many layers of myth and exaggerations that have cloaked this popular tale for generations.

When the three children fled to Mexico to evade capture, law enforcement mounted the largest manhunt in Arizona history. Eventually catching up to their prey, they were on the hook for a great deal more than draft evasion. They were each incarcerated on charges of premeditated murder. The boys, meanwhile, claimed self defense against a raging ambush. In the end, the brothers were given the longest sentences ever bestowed upon prisoners up until that time in Arizona history.

The irresistible allure of old Western myth makes the film undeniably appealing. But it really finds its power in its depiction of a time and place in America; a setting that still informs the country's reality today. The parallels have echoed throughout history. It was a period of great divisions and hostilities over the war, a climate where government intrusion was becoming a growing concern among many unassuming Americans, and a landscape where purposeful misinformation campaigns were becoming increasingly rampant.

Narrated by actor John Slattery (Mad Men), the film's immaculate production includes handsome animations, archival photos, a meticulous delineation between legend and fact, and revealing interviews with historians, authors, and surviving family members. So much pertinent information has been lost to the ravages of time and accepted folklore, but the filmmakers take great care in reconstructing the most probable account of these events. It's a barnburner of a story, and essential history well told.

Directed by: Cameron Trejo