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The Patriot (2000) Poster

(2000)

Trivia

Jump to: Director Trademark (1) | Spoilers (3)
When teaching Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger how to shoot a muzzle-loading rifle, technical advisor Mark Baker gave them the advice to "aim small, miss small", meaning that if you aim at a man and miss, you miss the man, while if you aim at a button (for instance) and miss, you still hit the man. Gibson liked this bit advice so much he incorporated it into the movie, just prior to the ambush scene.
During a rough day of filming, producer Dean Devlin noticed most of the extras looking tired and stressed from doing several takes while wearing heavy costumes in the 100-degree South Carolina heat. During a break, Devlin suggested to Mel Gibson that he recite his famous "freedom" speech from Braveheart (1995) to cheer them up. Gibson got on a horse and proceeded to give the speech, which he still had memorized, boosting their morale.
In addition to Marion, Mel Gibson's character is also based on the life of South Carolina militia leader General Andrew Pickens. Pickens had his estate torched and lost a son before he went back into action and led the militia forces at Cowpens.
Kevin Spacey was the first choice to play Tavington, but after paying Mel Gibson his $25 million there was not enough in the budget to pay Kevin too.
Joshua Jackson, Elijah Wood, Jake Gyllenhaal, Brad Renfro and Paul Walker were considered to play Gabriel Martin. The filmmakers narrowed their choices for this role to Ryan Phillippe and Heath Ledger, with the latter chosen because the director thought he possessed "exuberant youth".
Heath Ledger performed his own stunts.
Aunt Charlotte's house is the same one used in Forrest Gump (1994), with slightly different interior paneling. The stone hedge visible in Forrest Gump is camouflaged with bushes in this film.
One of the "redcoats" (actually dummies) that is floating face down in the river after the "trap" is a dummy of John Travolta.
The character Benjamin Martin was originally written with six children, but Mel Gibson added one more because he himself had seven children.
The character of Benjamin Martin is loosely based on the real life soldier Francis Marion, aka The Swamp Fox. The Swamp Fox taught soldiers guerrilla tactics.
Harrison Ford declined the lead role, feeling the script had boiled the Revolutionary War down to a "one-man's-revenge" melodrama.
The scene where Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) returns the dogs to General Cornwallis (Tom Wilkinson) may be based on a similar story told about General George Washington. During the Revolutionary War, Washington reportedly noticed the terrier of a British general wandering the battlefield. He subsequently negotiated a cease-fire, and both sides stopped firing until the dog was returned to the British commander.
Jake Gyllenhaal auditioned several times and was considered for the role of Gabriel Martin, but eventually lost out to Heath Ledger. They would later star in the movie Brokeback Mountain (2005) together and become very close friends.
The scene in which civilians are locked in the church and burned did not happen during the War of the Revolution. The incident is based on one during WWII Limoges in central France on June 10, 1944. German soldiers herded 452 women and children into a church and lobbed smoke grenades through the windows, suffocating the victims and setting the church on fire, while machine guns raked the interior. There was one survivor.
Screenwriter Robert Rodat called the final battle a hybrid between the Battle of Guilford Courthouse and the Battle of Cowpens: The mixture of militia and Continental army in the battle. The militia's reputation of not holding and the tactic of using that to lure the British in. The militia only firing a couple of volleys before a planned retreat to a secondary line composed of the Continental army. The Continental army firing and then performing a bayonet charge.
Among the American cavalry officers who participated in the real Battle of Cowpens was Lt. Col. William Washington - General George Washington's cousin, who went Mano-a-Mano with Banastre Tarleton in a saber clash.
After the explosion of the cargo ship we see (or hear, actually) Tavington smashes his glass when placing it down. He really just places it down, but it was decided to add a smashing sound for comic effect. We never actually see the glass breaking.
The swamp scenes were filmed at Cypress Gardens in Berkeley County, South Carolina.
The Battle of Cowpens, upon which this movie is based, took place on January 17th, 1781. This battle has been commemorated by the U.S. Navy, which named two ships after it. USS Cowpens (CVL 25) was a WWII light aircraft carrier which won 12 battle stars, more than any other light carrier in the war and was the first ship to enter Tokyo Harbor and land Marines on the Japanese mainland. USS Cowpens (CG 63) is an Aegis Guided Missile Cruiser serving in the Pacific fleet from San Diego, CA.
Screenwriter Robert Rodat wrote 17 drafts of the script before there was an acceptable one.
Heath Ledger didn't work for a year because he only got offers for teen heartthrob roles. He was about to quit acting and return to Australia when he was cast in the film.
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Over 800 extras were used throughout the movie.
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The studio wanted to cut a certain shot in the cannonball scene to avoid an R rating, but Roland Emmerich felt it was important not to sanitise war.
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Everyone in the battle had to undergo a two-week long boot camp before shooting began. The hand-to-hand combat moves are authentic to the time and are still used by the military today.
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The scene where Benjamin and Villeneuve fight over quartering the British is included to show that atrocities were committed on both sides during the war.
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Mel Gibson improvised the "soon" line. He wasn't supposed to give any response.
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It was hard finding a swamp to shoot in, so the production rented out a botanical garden and flooded it.
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The historical accuracy of the costumes and settings was overseen by the Smithsonian Institute. It's the first time the Institute ever worked directly on the production of a movie.
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The scene where Benjamin walks toward the church in Pembroke to pray was Mel Gibson's idea. He wants to show Benjamin Martin's moral dilemma.
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The term "Redcoats" was used to describe British soldiers as early as 7 May 1645.
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Logan Lerman played Mel Gibson's son in this movie, and played Mel's younger self in What Women Want (2000).
Actual amputees were cast to play soldiers who lost their limbs.
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The film's biggest competition on its opening weekend was The Perfect Storm (2000) starring George Clooney in a role Mel Gibson turned down to film this movie.
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The church and the entire surrounding town of Pembroke were built just for this film.
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The swamp froze solid the day after shooting the scene where Benjamin and Gabriel have just bonded over Thomas. If the filmmakers had been delayed, the shot would have been impossible.
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Benjamin Martin's talent for recruiting men was based on Thomas Sumter, known as "The Gamecock."
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When they are bushed at the bridge the kid who they focus the camera on is Thomas as a British soldier.
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Lisa Brenner and producer Dean Devlin met on the set and married on July 4th, 2003.
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The bayonets used are all retractable so the extras could safely stab each other.
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The torches were gas-powered and could be switched off at a moment's notice.
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Roland Emmerich said the scene where the two armies march toward each other is like a "couple thousand people playing Russian Roulette."
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Heath Ledger said working on the film answered his question of why Americans "wave their flag so high." "It's because they went to hell and back to build their country."
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The scene where the Martin Family looks on as a battle encroaches on their backyard was cut from the script. The filmmakers only shot it because they got ahead of schedule.
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Roland Emmerich was inspired by John Ford, who was known for his wide shots.
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According to Roland Emmerich, the scene where Cornwalis thanks Benjamin for taking care of his dogs was difficult to film because of all the natural light from the windows. He made sure there were no windows behind Mel Gibson to simplify the problem of changing sunlight.
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The crew built a fake exterior on an existing plantation so they could burn it without hurting the home.
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The scene where Benjamin offers Gabriel an apple was improvised.
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Mel Gibson and Jason Isaacs practised their complicated fight sequence almost every day of the 100-day shoot.
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Screenwriter Robert Rodat wrote the character of Benjamin Martin with Mel Gibson in mind.
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Benjamin's retort on "tyrants" is actually a rephrasing of a quote by Mather Byles, a Loyalist clergyman from Boston.
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Joely Richardson used Scarlett O'Hara as inspiration for her role as Aunt Charlotte.
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Anne's speech was inspired by letters Abigail Adams sent to John Adams during the Revolution.
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The character of Maj. Villeneuve is based on Marquis de Lafayette, a major-general from France.
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The scene where Benjamin gives Burwell a letter to give to his family is based on two real events: the Battle of Cowpens, won by the Patriots and the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, a costly victory for the British.
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The costume department created over 1,200 military outfits for the movie.
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The city of Charles Town (or Charleston) was digitally added to the background during editing.
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David Arnold, who composed the scores to Roland Emmerich's Stargate (1994), Independence Day (1996) and Godzilla (1998), created a demo for the film that was ultimately rejected. As a result, David never returned to compose any of Roland's future films and was replaced by Harald Kloser and Thomas Wanker.
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The score used in the film is also used as the opening music in the 2004 television series Jack & Bobby (2004). Both featured Logan Lerman who played Benjamin Martin's youngest son William, and future president Robert (Bobby) McCallister.
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This is Chris Cooper's second time playing a colonel. He was Col. Frank Fitts in American Beauty (1999).
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The hatchet Benjamin uses to fight the Redcoats is made of rubber for safety, but when Benjamin gets ready to throw the hatchet, it is metal hatchet heavy enough to throw.
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Screenwriter Robert Rodat wrote 17 drafts of the script before there was an acceptable one.
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In an earlier version of the script, Anne is pregnant with Gabriel's child when she dies in the burning church.
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Three actors in this film went on to act in three separate Batman adaptations. Donal Logue is in Gotham (2014), Tom Wilkinson was in Batman Begins (2005), and Heath Ledger was in _"The Dark Knight" (2012)_.
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Ben Daniels was offered a role but turned it down.
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The theme music was played after President Barack Obama's acceptance speech on election night in 2008.
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During pre-production, the producers debated on whether Benjamin Martin would own slaves, ultimately deciding not to make him a slave owner. This decision received criticism from Spike Lee, who in a letter to The Hollywood Reporter accused the film's portrayal of slavery as being "a complete whitewashing of history". Lee wrote that after he and his wife went to see the film, "we both came out of the theatre fuming. For three hours The Patriot (2000) dodged around, skirted about or completely ignored slavery." Mel Gibson himself remarked: "I think I would have made him a slave holder. Not to seems kind of a cop-out."
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Director Trademark 

Roland Emmerich: [44] Seen in the tavern where Martin recruits for his militia, also seen on a wine bottle label

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The character of Col. Tavington is loosely based on Col. Banastre Tarleton, who was Cornwallis's cavalry commander. Col. Tarelton had a bad reputation, but some say he was not nearly as cold-hearted and evil as the fictitious Col. Tavington (though many historians portray them equally). In the movie, Colonel Tavington died at the end of the Battle of Cowpens. The real Banastre Tarleton lived to grow old until 1833, became a general and even served in the British Parliament.
Benjamin Martin loses two children. Two of the actors that portrayed his children in the film, Heath Ledger and Skye McCole Bartusiak later died.
Roland Emmerich previously directed Godzilla (1998) in which Philippe (Jean Reno) says he is a "Patriot who love's his country."
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