Peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin is driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the American Revolution when a sadistic British officer murders his son.


Roland Emmerich


Robert Rodat
1,159 ( 92)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Mel Gibson ... Benjamin Martin
Heath Ledger ... Gabriel Martin
Joely Richardson ... Charlotte Selton
Jason Isaacs ... Col. William Tavington
Chris Cooper ... Col. Harry Burwell
Tchéky Karyo ... Jean Villeneuve
Rene Auberjonois ... Reverend Oliver
Lisa Brenner ... Anne Howard
Tom Wilkinson ... Gen. Lord Charles Cornwallis
Donal Logue ... Dan Scott
Leon Rippy ... John Billings
Adam Baldwin ... Capt. Wilkins
Jay Arlen Jones ... Occam
Joey D. Vieira ... Peter Howard
Gregory Smith ... Thomas Martin


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 Caleb Conser

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Before they were soldiers, they were family. Before they were legends, they were heros. Before there was a nation, there was a fight for freedom. See more »


Action | Drama | History | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong war violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Kevin Spacey was the first choice to play Tavington. After paying Mel Gibson $25 million, there was not enough in the budget to pay him. See more »


When Gabriel goes to the church to recruit volunteers for the militia, Anne Howard gets up and makes a speech about patriotism. We see her wearing a necklace (a pendant on some type of cord - possibly a thin strip of leather). As the townspeople are gathered outside a minute or so later to watch the men leave, we see Anne with a completely bare neck. See more »


[first lines]
[repeated line]
Benjamin Martin: I have long feared that my sins would return to visit me, and the cost is more than I can bear.
See more »

Alternate Versions

In the theatrical version, right after Benjamin 'The Ghost' Martin gets his orders to go start a militia he gives Gabriel a lecture about how he must call him Sir or Colonel and not to call him dad. This does not appear in the cable version. See more »


Referenced in Mike & Mike: Episode dated 25 July 2016 (2016) See more »


The British Grenadiers
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User Reviews

Despite it's being fiction, it is certainly good entertainment
26 October 2000 | by echSee all my reviews

Whenever I see a film that is supposed to have historical basis, I am always a bit surprised to find out how much people complain about historical inaccuracies. I admit that I have done so in a few cases myself (Thin Red Line). However, in this case, I feel I must point out a few things.

All such films come with a disclaimer saying something to the effect that the characters portrayed aren't real and the story is just that, a story. For entertainment. Martin and Tavington did not actually exist, they are merely characters, possibly based (as has been suggested) on actual historical figures. I often wonder if such films as Treasure of the Sierra Madre, or Rio Grande, or just about any western flick was judged so harshly when it came out as we judge 'historical' pictures today? Or any pirate film? Zorro? Any film with knights in it? It seems to me that unless you are making a documentary, the historical accuracy doesn't truly matter in detail. Certainly, I enjoy films better when they seem to be a reasonably accurate portrayal of a time (costumes, technologies), but I don't carp about whether some person existed. Even if they did, I expect the film to be untrue so I can be entertained. For example, most wars are not constant fighting. Certainly some battles went on for days at a time, but there is a lot of waiting and a lot of marching. Yet most war films seem to be battle after battle after battle, with no real respite except for the wounded. Not so. How about some facts? Fact: Americans fought against themselves during the war. Many Americans served with the British forces. Fact: There were in fact many atrocities committed by the British forces, rapes, property burning, etc. Don't believe me? Check out the history of what happened to the original signers of the Declaration of Independence, their families and their properties. That's actual history, not just entertainment history. Of course, this wasn't only limited to the British forces. According to Massachusetts history, the Revolutionary forces (not necessarily the armed forces even) were, um, not kind to people who sympathized with the British. The tavern recruitment scene suggests this quite well. Were churches actually burned with a town's population inside. Maybe, maybe not, but it certainly was dramatic, wasn't it? Fact: Literacy was not as common at that time as it is today. Many people, especially the lower classes, and slaves could not read.

Did Cornwallis have a pair of great danes that were 'captured' by the enemy? I doubt it, but possibly. Were slaves that served in either army freed after a certain term of service? Again, I don't know. (I am not even certain that slavery was allowed in Britain at the time. Indentured servants, I think yes (though the difference is slight, I grant you), but actual slavery, hmm. I'll have to check on that.) The colonies typically did form their own militias for local use. The americans did, as a general rule, fight using more guerilla tactics (especially early on, the american forces were composed largely of more militia than regulars, see below for comments on militia), check the accounts of the battle of Concord, and what happened to the British forces as they withdrew.

War is brutal and ugly. People die. Many of the soldiers don't want to be there. Militia, being less well trained and thus disciplined, does have a tendency to fight very poorly in set piece battles (check current and past arguments for keeping a 'standing' 'professional' army).

Ignoring the historical accuracies or lack thereof (and btw, Braveheart was not 100% accurate either, though the main characters , Wallace, Robert the Bruce, King Edward, did all exist, but again, I don't seem to recall people complaining so loudly about that) I found Mel's character to be believable and well portrayed. Yes, there were elements of Hollywood happiness in the film (the beach town, he workers attitudes, the romances) and Hollywood sadness' in the film (the massacre, the child's death), but it was very entertaining. I found many of the battles to be very realistic (okay, pistols WERE NOT that accurate and never have been) and sufficiently entertaining for my needs.

Overall, a very good film. Hollywood, certainly, but entertaining.

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English | French

Release Date:

28 June 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Patriot See more »


Box Office


$110,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$22,413,710, 2 July 2000

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Technical Specs


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Sound Mix:

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Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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