It is 1776 in colonial South Carolina. Benjamin Martin, a French-Indian war hero who is haunted by his past, now wants nothing more than to live peacefully on his small plantation, and wants no part of a war with the most powerful nation in the world, Great Britain. Meanwhile, his two eldest sons, Gabriel and Thomas, can't wait to enlist in the newly formed "Continental Army." When South Carolina decides to join the rebellion against England, Gabriel immediately signs up to fight...without his father's permission. But when Colonel William Tavington, British dragoon, infamous for his brutal tactics, comes and burns the Martin Plantation to the ground, tragedy strikes. Benjamin quickly finds himself torn between protecting his family, and seeking revenge along with being a part of the birth of a new, young, and ambitious nation. Written by
The Patriot is technically a good movie. Nicely made with good characters, good acting, a strong storyline and fabulous cinematography.
But, to say this movie distorts history would be an understatement. And that is extremely sad in a movie that sells itself as an accurate portrayal of events during the revolution. The Patriot, unfortunately, crosses the line and try's to portray as 'actual fact' a film which is predominantly fictional. Hence, the 'real life' equivalent of Benjamin Martin actually used to scalp Native Americans in his spare time (a fact neatly overlooked by the director).
This 'rose tinted' view of history is at its worst during the church-burning scene where a British Army officer ordered the murder of many innocent civilians by locking them in a church and setting it alight. This event never took place and yet, thanks to The Patriot, a whole generation of Americans will believe that the British Army actually committed this horrendous act in South Carolina -- when in fact history shows that it was not the British Army that burned a church full of people in 1776 but the Nazis that did during WW2.
As a Brit, I don't so much mind Hollywood always portraying us as the 'bad guys' -- after all it is American money making these films -- I'm more concerned that some Americans actually believe what they watch. This is especially true in movies like The Patriot which 'pretend' to be real.
It's a shame that in such a technically competent movie, which pays such attention to minutiae detail like the costumes, that something as significant as the accuracy of the screenplay could have been so grotesquely overlooked.
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