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Engrossing Revolutionary War tale, though not historical
roghache13 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Being Canadian, I probably know fewer details of the Revolutionary War than the average U.S. viewer, but note that many seem absolutely outraged at the historical untruths of this movie. When I watched it, I personally found it quite captivating but always have enough sense not to get my history from Hollywood. Since my viewing, I've looked up some info and note various inaccuracies such as misplaced characters, exaggeration of British atrocities, inaccurate torching of a church with townsfolk inside being burned alive, and depiction of American owned slaves being freed to serve in the Continental Army. (Apparently, it was the British who promised to free them if they joined their forces, but later reneged.) My apologies if my facts aren't straight.

It's the FICTIONAL story of a widowed South Carolina farmer, Benjamin Martin, who is disgusted by his past supposedly heroic deeds during the French Indian Wars. He has resolved to avoid participation when the Colonies revolt against Britain and stay home to protect his seven children. However, he witnesses atrocities against his two older sons, Gabriel and Thomas, by the cruel British Colonel Tavington. Gabriel, the oldest, has joined the battle against the Redcoats early on, been captured, and sentenced by Tavington to hang. Thomas, the second son, attempts to free Gabriel as he is being taken away, only to be killed by Tavington right in front of his father. This forces the reluctant Benjamin into the fray, organizing a local militia group of farmers and ex Indian fighters who will tie up the British until the French arrive.

Mel Gibson gives a moving portrayal of the father who is driven into a battle he sought to avoid in order to protect his family from the British. For me, his personal and family story is the essence of the tale. Just as one would expect, Benjamin Martin comes across as very sympathetic and heroic. Apparently this character is sort of a composite of possibly three different real men of that era.

The film has wonderful period costumes, though also (like Gibson's earlier Braveheart) more than enough violence for my taste. However, it did bring to life for me the Revolutionary War, unfortunately in a purely fictional rather than historical way. Though I enjoyed this picture, it seems to have taken a lot of liberties with the truth. The movie should therefore be considered strictly as entertainment, not a history lesson.
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Good but ........
Zal-510 July 2000
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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Heroes and Villains
James Hitchcock9 March 2007
"The Patriot", the story of an American farmer who fights in the War of Independence, is sometimes used, together with "Braveheart", as evidence of a supposed anti-British prejudice on the part of Mel Gibson. This is perhaps unfair to Gibson, who has gone on record as supporting the ties between Australia and the British monarchy (hardly the stance of a Brit-hating bigot). Although "Braveheart", which he produced and directed, was very much Gibson's own pet project, he was neither the producer, director or scriptwriter of "The Patriot". Indeed, he was not even first choice to play the lead. The producers originally wanted Harrison Ford who turned the part down, reportedly because he felt that the script turned the American Revolution into the story of one man's quest for revenge.

Because of its anti-British stance, the film was badly received in Britain. One newspaper accused it of blackening the character of the British officer Banastre Tarleton who served as the inspiration for the villainous Colonel Tavington. One commentator went so far as to say that it was the sort of film that the Nazis might have made about the American Revolution had they won World War II. Unlike some of my fellow-countrymen, I was not too worried about this aspect of the film. The total death toll in the American War of Independence was remarkably low, not only by modern standards but even by the standards of other wars of this era, such as the Napoleonic War. Nevertheless, in every war ever fought there have been crimes on both sides, and the War of Independence was no exception. (The rebels could be as ruthless as the British, but none of their atrocities are shown in this film). Some of the deeds attributed to Tavington may be fictitious, such as the church-burning scene, but in real life Tarleton had a well-deserved reputation for brutality, and was not only loathed by the American colonists but also distrusted by his own side. In the film the British commander Lord Cornwallis is shown as outwardly gentlemanly and honourable, but prepared secretly to countenance Tavington's methods. In reality, Cornwallis wanted to have Tarleton court-martialled; Tarleton was only saved by his influential connections.

I did, however, have some reservations about the way these events were portrayed. It was originally intended to make the film about Francis Marion, a real-life figure. Unfortunately Marion, although undoubtedly courageous and a skilled guerrilla leader, was also a slave-owner (as any landowner of substance in 1770s South Carolina would have been) and was therefore deemed unworthy to be the hero of a modern blockbuster (even though a TV series about him was made in the fifties). His exploits, therefore, are credited to a fictitious "Benjamin Martin". The slavery issue could have been avoided by moving the action to, say, New England, but instead the film gives us a wholly unrealistic picture of race relations in the period. The black workers on Martin's land are all free men, and black and white live together in harmony, with black soldiers willingly fighting alongside whites in the Continental Army. This sort of dishonest, idealised portrayal of slavery was at one time common in films like "Gone with the Wind", but I thought that it had died out with the growth of the Civil Rights movement.

(Incidentally, a reason why so many Southerners supported the revolutionaries was that slavery had been declared illegal in Britain itself in 1771 and they feared that the British Parliament would eventually legislate to ban it in the colonies. Needless to say, there is no mention of this attitude in the film. In later life Tarleton became MP for Liverpool, and a vehement defender of slavery. In this, if in nothing else, he and Marion had something in common).

My other reservation about the film's political stance is similar to Ford's. The film probably concentrated so heavily on British brutality because it is difficult to interest a modern audience, even an American audience, in the actual reasons why the war was fought. It is easy to make out an intellectual case for the principle of "no taxation without representation", which had been part of British constitutional thought since at least the Civil War in the 1640s. It is much less easy to justify the spilling of blood in defence of that principle, and Martin, scarred by his experiences in the French and Indian Wars, is originally shown as a pacifist, unwilling to fight or to support the Declaration of Independence which he believes will lead to war. His son Gabriel, however, joins the Continental Army, but is wrongly accused of being a spy and threatened with execution. Tavington, believing Martin to be a rebel sympathiser, burns down his home and murders another son, Thomas. Martin is forced to take up arms to defend his family and then forms a guerrilla band which he leads against the British. Despite the title of the film, however, Martin is not really motivated by patriotism; he seems less a patriot than a pacifist who has abandoned his principles in order to seek revenge.

The film is attractively photographed, although I felt that it sometimes showed a sanitised, prettified version of eighteenth-century life. In some ways it reminded me of "The Last Samurai", another visually attractive epic flawed by a dishonest approach to history and by excessive length, although I would rate it slightly higher, largely because Gibson makes a more commanding and impressive epic hero than does Tom Cruise. From the viewpoint of anyone without patriotic preconceptions, it can be seen simply as an exciting (if overlong) adventure film- my wife, who is not British by birth, was cheering on Martin and booing Tavington. Nevertheless, its approach to history never gets beyond a simplified story of heroes and villains. 6/10
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slightlymad2227 January 2017
The Patriot (2000)

Plot In A Paragraph: Peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin (Gibson) is driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the American Revolution against a sadistic British officer (Jason Isaacs).

Back when this was released I liked a few Roland Emmerich movies (by that, I mean Universal Soldier, Stargate and Independence Day) so I was willing to give this one a chance, and would probably go to the cinema to see it!! However the trailers left me feeling a bit flat, and I skipped it in cinema's.. my brother rented it on video and I caught a few scenes as he watched it, as I was in and out of the room. What I seen was laughably bad. Almost as if it was a spoof movie!! My impression of it was so poor, I've never sat down and watched it until now.

Well.... nothing I have seen here gave me the impression I was wrong!! The Patriot is boring, pretincious, ridiculously cliché and is just bad movie in general. Also the title makes no sense either. As Gibson's character was not a Patriot at all. He couldn't care less about the war, and had no desire to get involved at all, until a character dies, which spurns Mel's desire for revenge. Revenge not his patriotic duty.

Gibson goes through the motions, Heath Ledger gives the impression he is reading his lines from a none to helpful actors prompt book.. and Jason Isaacs is awful in full pantomime villain mode.

It seems like Emmerich tried to cram as many clichés in as possible, as if he was winking at the audience. But no. Sadly, it's serious. A peaceful man refuses to fight until a personal tragedy forces him into action, Children, who can not only outsmart red coats, they have a much better shooting accuracy than trained red coats too!! (As the bad guys all have terrible aim, so not too many heroes die) the token black guy and the lone racist (only one racist guy in 1776 South Carolina?? PLEASE) who learns the error of his ways fighting side by side with him and the final battle (which America is never in any danger of losing) in which the hero singlehandedly kills the villain of the piece and wins an important battle in the war!! Pathetic

To put it bluntly, I'd rather go see a firework display during a thunderstorm than rewatch The Patriot.

However my thoughts were not echoed by many, as The Patriot was another $100 million grosser for Gibson, as it ended the year with $113 million at the domestic box office to finish the year as the 19th highest grossing movie of 2000.
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A film ruined by blatant inaccuracies to target blind patriotism
drmnc15 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Thank you, The Patriot, for compelling me so much to sign up on IMDb after being a long-time lurker. There has never been a historical film that infuriates so much as this one. It is possibly one of the least accurate portrayals of the American Revolution I have ever seen, and this film smacked of attempting to curry favour with the American masses. In fact, American patriots would feel disgusted by how badly the events, ideas and people of the American Revolution were depicted in this film.

The fact that this film attempts to target the blind, deep-rooted patriotism in America while blatantly trying to mask the historical inaccuracy and complete bias detracts from what could have potentially been a very good film. The directors didn't even attempt to try to be objective. However, this is what the monitored history in the America education system comes to, so I would expect nothing less.

One scene portrays this particularly well. The British Army burning down a church? Seriously? That is just truly ridiculous. Most British people were still devout Christians at that time; they wouldn't dare commit such sacrilege. Such mindless script-writing just proves the film-makers will stoop to any lengths to invoke American patriotism, to make the American people feel that there is no-one else who are as honourable and chivalrous as they. It is as if they didn't commit any sort of atrocities themselves in the American Revolution. Nobody remembers that before and after the setting of this film, the very same people portrayed in this film who brought America to salvation were the same people who also displayed the real extent of American treachery when they butchered, back-stabbed and reneged on their sham treaties with natives in the American-Indian Wars, but we won't dwell on that. I wonder why there haven't been any films of recent years portraying that conflict.

Every other character in the film laments how the new American nation will be "the start of a new world where all men are created equal." Of course, they fail to acknowledge that America failed to meet this criteria still almost 200 years after the film was set – Martin Luther King realised that. This is all hurriedly justified by the scriptwriters in a 10-second scene where the previously racist white man and the ex- slave make up – an entirely predictable scenario that anyone with a brain could see coming from the instant the two of them met. It is all such poor writing.

However, credit must be given that this film was actually quite gripping and had a very workable storyline that was very interesting. The vendetta of Benjamin Martin against William Tavington was a great storyline. The actual portrayal of the battles was fascinating, and quite accurate from what I was watching, and the fight sequences were also plausible.

War is not pretty, and it is the innocent that suffer the most. The Patriot actually displayed it very well. I am sick of seeing film after film where after the entire film, surprise surprise, none of the main characters have died, except one of course – the sacrificial lamb who's only purpose is to die at the end of the film. This actually makes the film a lot more gripping and interesting, and makes it a lot more realistic too. In war, not everyone comes out alive. It is rare you see this in film, and I am glad to see this occur once in a blue moon.

The story was touching and I could sympathise with Mel a lot. Here was me, thinking that kids were immune from deaths in films! The acting itself was quite good too (apart from Cornwallis, who the writers conveniently decided to portray as a moron, because according to them, British commanders were morons. Things never change I guess!). The action scenes were exciting and enthralling, especially the showdown between Isaacs' skirmishers and Ledger's revolutionaries. The final battle was pretty strong too. It's a shame that what could have been a good film was ruined by such patriotic mindlessness.
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Not everyone has background knowledge
Neil Welch4 March 2008
Me, I'm not bothered - a piece of colourful escapist nonsense. A popcorn movie, as the producers say. As a Brit in his 50s, the substantial liberties taken with history don't keep me awake at night, because I realise they are simply dramatic licence.

Then I find myself in "discussion" on a website - to do with popular music, nothing to do with film - with a young American gentleman, and a jocular remark suddenly sends him off on a tirade, the gist of which is that he hates the British because of the atrocities we committed during the War of Independence, and he knows this to be the case because he saw it for himself when he watched The Patriot.

OK, so the lad is clearly a bit lacking in the Education Department, and has been even more substantially short-changed in the Common Sense Department, but that doesn't change the fact that he - and, presumably, a not inconsiderable number of others like him - have taken this pile of poo on board as fact.

I don't know what the answer is. Better education? More responsible film-making? Cull the dimwits? (I'm allowed to make this suggestion, after all, I'm a Brit and you know the sort of evil murderous thugs we are - just watch The Patriot!)

Answers on a postcard.
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Liked it - see below
cleverfox2 April 2008
Just watched this movie for about the 20th time (I have it on TiVo) and for the life of me I cannot find the disdain many who have written here have commented on. Last I heard, this was FICTION - NOT a documentary; Ken Burns did not produce not write nor direct nor narrate this piece - Roland Emmerich, a man known for action FICTION did. Yes the depiction of the Revolutionary War was NOT 100% accurate but was never intended to be; just a drama set against the background of a war and it was refreshing to see the war in the background, whereupon American blood is spilled on American soil, was the Revolutionary War and not another Civil War piece; indeed, the Civil War has been played so many times in films over the past quarter century it was just refreshing to see a different war....

Being somewhat of a military historian I will say that the depiction of soldiers going musket to musket in the open field was indeed accurate; many may find it interesting to know that according to the gentlemanly practices of King George's army, both sides would also recess for tea at noon every day and resume the fighting afterwards - guerrilla warfare was not popular during the day which is why Gibson's militia unit was so overtly successful early on. That being said, the comments about the accuracy with the muskets are fairly accurate but I will say that I only see straight barrel musket rifles - none of the bell shape tipped muskets; the longer you keep a projectile on a straight course the more accuracy at longer ranges despite the lack of rifling grooves in the barrels (I spent time on Rifle Teams for 5 years). The prime inaccuracy I noted was when Tavington shot the rider (running away on horseback) in the back with a musket pistol at probably 40 yards or more - so unlikely, it tarnished the whole scene.

My favorite person - Billings; Leon Rippey's cynical, almost giggly snickering laugh completely stole the every scene where it was used and he is a long term favorite actor of mine; Jason Isaacs absolutely best screen villain of this movie (and perhaps in top 10 screen villains of all time).

I guess it boils down to "different strokes for different folks" we all have our opinions on this and I've aired mine.
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Try to see it as entertainment and not as a source of knowledge...
Philip Van der Veken22 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I've always had a weak spot for historically inspired dramas. I like movies like for instance "Braveheart", "Gladiator" and "Kingdom of Heaven". I don't like them because they give me some good insight on what that time period was like. Most of them aren't very accurate and if I want to know more about the real history, I'll watch some documentaries or read a couple of books. No, I watch this movies to be entertained and that's also the most important thing I focus on when reviewing this kind of movies: Did I like what I saw or was it boring as hell?

The story of the "The Patriot" is situated in South Carolina in 1776. Benjamin Martin, a hero from the French-Indian war who has recently buried his wife, is haunted by his notoriously brutal past. He decides not to take part in the American Revolution against the British, because he wants to protect his family and doesn't want to leave them behind fatherless. When one of his sons, who earlier on had enlisted against his will, returns home, it all starts to go terribly wrong. The son is arrested by the British Colonel Tavington and accused of being a spy. He will be executed, but before it comes to that point, one of Benjamin's other sons runs towards the soldiers and is instantly killed. This makes Martin decide to enlist anyway and he becomes the leader of a makeshift militia, which consists of peasants, slaves, a minister and other irregulars. They are successful in their fights, but will all soon be confronted with the personal consequences...

As I already said in the introduction, I'm not looking for historical accuracy, because I know I'll not find it in movies like this one. Hollywood has a tradition of changing the actual facts, to make a movie look more appealing for the audience and I'm sure the same has happened more than once with this movie as well. No, what I want is entertainment and THAT, I did get. Some major battle scenes, some drama, the obvious patriotism, some decent acting,... it can all be found in this movie and I must say that I liked it (most of the time).

The main problem that I had with this movie was the sometimes oh so obvious struggle for the American hearts. It's almost like if they forget that there are also people outside the USA who will watch their movies. All the Americans are good and all the English, French,... are bad and arrogant. Perhaps the American audience needs such stereotypes in order to be able to identify themselves with that fierce warrior on the big silver screen, but personally I can see past that fake patriotism.

Nevertheless, this is an entertaining movie and I would say that it sure offers some good value for your money if you aren't looking for too much historical accuracy. The acting and most of the story (like for instance the part in which he loses his boy) are touching and more than OK. Overall I liked what I saw and that's why I give this movie a 7.5/10. It's no masterpiece, but it sure is better than average.
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Almost So Bad To Be Entertaining But It Leaves A Bad Taste In The Mouth
Theo Robertson28 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Since the last film I reviewed was COME AND SEE the Soviet film depicting Nazi war crimes in Bylorussia in World War 2 most distressingly the inhabitants of a village being burned alive in a barn I thought it'd be a good idea to rewatch THE PATRIOT a film set during the American War of Independence starring Mel Gibson and directed by German Roland Emmerich to see if it's every bit as bad as I remembered and which caused a lot of controversy when it was released

Unsurprisingly it is every bit as bad as I remembered . The battle scenes of massed ranks standing in front of one another firing muskets are vaguely realistic if only on a tactical level because in those days chivalry at its most basic still existed in the mind of military men and was a gentlemanly act . Strangely Richard Rodat ( The screenwriter of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN ) and Emmerich seem to have created an alternative universe where butchering the civilian population just because things were going slightly badly was part of a strategy by the Brits . There is some debate about atrocities happening during the period but historians are unanimous that while some things may have happened that could be classed as war crimes nothing on the scale as seen in here did happen during the period . It led to one critic Jonathan Foreman writing a famous article in The New York Post decrying THE PATRIOT as " blood libel "

Interestingly the film draws attention to the fact that the colonial rebels were helped by the French . Before anyone starts to applaud this fact their role is totally downplayed . There is a French officer present who's aiding these patriots because his wife and children were burned to death by these nasty Brits . Goodness me according to this film the British empire's idea of war is stocking up on a lot of matches setting fire to the nearest passer by who can't fight back . You can almost understand why he likes to slaughter surrendering red coats and it's left to Mel Gibson ( I won't refer to him as his character's name since he's Mel Gibson playing ... well Mel Gibson ) to point out that killing unarmed prisoners is wrong . Interesting too that that it's heavily implied at the end of the film the French only turned up at the end when the war was effectively over . I think that might have been true of America's role at the end of WW1 but certainly wasn't true of the French in the American War Of Independence . France , Holland and Spain all gave military help to the colonials throughout the war especially naval power . Effectively the whole world was against Britain helping the revolutionaries on land and sea

In this version of America everyone lived in a multi ethnic egalitarian utopia where all men are equal before God . Not only were black people not slaves but if look closely you can spot the occasional black face walking along streets unhindered .One can understand how much hatred Spike Lee has for the film and has been very vocal about it and it really is laughably bad the way the film spins out how much equality is afforded to African -Americans in the late 1770s . It's a bit like watching a version of SCHINDLER'S LIST were no one actually gets murdered for being Jewish . Just for the record Britain abolished slavery in 1807 while the Americans didn't get round to it for decades later .

This is a movie that shows Hollywood at its very worst . If it'd been made by a bunch of American journeymen film makers it would have just been Hollywood rubbish . However since I'd previously seen COME AND SEE it does leave a very disgusting taste in the mouth that it stars Mel Gibson and has been made by a German director . The only good thing to say about it is that it's so bad that no one will be able to take it seriously
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Well worth seeing - and accurate on many fronts
The Patriot is NOT a documentary. It didn't pretend to be, and wasn't. Loosely based upon Francis Marion (the "Swamp Fox"), it only touched on Marion's impact on the Revolution in South Carolina. If anything, it was downplayed. For instance, in real life, he had over 150 men in his guerrilla band. The movie portrayed him as having far fewer. As a documentary, it fails on this and many other points. As a movie, it is a tremendous success.

As far as visuals, they were stunning. The wide-open vistas and battle scenes were breath-taking and beautifully filmed. Yes, it was violent, but that lent a realism to the film that most other films about this era lack. The look and feel of this period was portrayed well.

The acting was superb. I won't give anything away, but this did NOT (arguably) have either an entirely "Hollywood" plot – people, including civilians, DIE, as they do in war – or much of a "Hollywood" ending, despite a relatively happy one. That was impressive, and made the film genuine, exciting and at times, shocking. Plot points such as Benjamin Martin's youngest daughter's feelings about her daddy, and the romance between his son and a young girl were touching, and even emotional.

I found some things complain about. Crisp, clean, brand-new Colonial American flags suddenly appear after, and during, the final battle. In reality they would have been rags by then – or at least not so clean. One bad bit of dialogue: Benjamin Martin is on the beach with his sister-in- law, and he asks if he can sit down. Her reply, "It's a free country – or will be soon," was a 20th century throw-away line dressed up with a 1780 caveat, and I cringed at it.

The film was historically accurate in many respects. The formal way of speaking, plus the family-above-all, loyalty-to-The-Cause attitudes expressed throughout, were genuine, even though both are out of favor today. Children using weapons, and going off to fight on a moment's notice, was not an uncommon story, and supposedly happened in a branch of my own family. Relationships like Martin's and his wife's sister did occur, often out of necessity. I was surprised to read afterwards that the battle tactics of the last scene occurred, almost exactly as shown, at the Battle of Cowpens, including fierce hand-to-hand combat. Colonel Banastre Tarleton – the basis for the movie's character William Tavington – was indeed seen as a war criminal by American colonists at the time, and the real Tarleton even had a horse shot out from under him!

But was it biased? Sure it was. Roughly a third of the American colonists were Loyalists, another third were "rebels", and another third were undecided. It would have made the story more complete and complex to portray this (or the time Tarleton mistakenly slaughtered some of those very Loyalists!) But I've read a poem online ("Ode to Valour") dedicated to Col. Banastre Tarleton's "heroic exploits" that would shame modern-day propagandists.

I think we all accept that not every British officer of this era was a monster. In fact, in the movie – as in real life - Cornwallis and other British officers were appalled that the "Ghost"/Swamp Fox did not play by the rules of "civilized warfare", and chastised characters like Tavington who also breached them. The real Swamp Fox knew a bit about balance, however. After after the war, when the real Francis Marion served in the South Carolina Senate, he is said to have advocated a lenient policy toward the Loyalists. The real Tarleton survived the war, went home to write his memoirs, was seen as a hero, and was elected to Parliament. Maybe we need a sequel to cover all of these other aspects of the story. Until then, this one is a must- see.
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A failed action movie that distorts history in every way possible.
Movie_Reviewer12321 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
We all know and have seen the bias that is almost always presented in books such as American books of history. For example, many historical books I've read praise America no matter what circumstance they're in (such as during the Revolution or Civil War). Even during such tragic events as the 1833 "Trail of Tears" Indian massacre, you'll rarely read any criticism of it in the typical history book.

Why? Because it's about America. America has built up a false image of itself; America is shown as omnipotent, with no nation able to even hope to match its power, and it shows America to be a pure nation with few if any faults.

Obviously, we all know that that image couldn't be farther from the truth, as America has numerous faults, and many nations have the same if not more power than America.

But unfortunately, America won't stop brainwashing the public and make them aware that this image is false. "The Patriot" is a prime example of this propaganda.

Basically, Mel Gibson plays as an invincible farmer who has a vendetta against the British, as he does in almost all of his historical movies. Once again he plays the role as someone who despises the British more than any other human on Earth. I didn't watch this whole movie, mainly because I am simply too disgusted to watch it. Though a few parts of the movie are historically accurate, such as the decisive British victory at the Battle of Camden, but the rest of it is nothing but American flag-waving idiocy.

One scene that I really despise is when Gibson and his two sons fight a squad of British troops who are taking a prisoner away. His sons have dead accuracy, and Mel displays super-human strength, as he kills over 10 British troops - including their officer - without taking a scratch. Historically, any rebel foolish enough to attack even two British troops would quickly be killed. But no, the directors made the movie as far from historically accurate as possible, so Mel slaughters the troops. Another scene I hate is when the British are shown to burn down a church, trapping the people inside. What were those idiotic directors thinking!!? Great Britain's state religion was Protestantism; even if a British officer ordered a Protestant church to be burned, he would executed for high treason against the church. Burning churches was something the Nazis did, not the British, but apparently the directors were so brain-dead that they decided to make the Britsh do this. Another scene I hate is when Tavington kills an innocent civilian for no reason. Tavington is based on the real-life Colonel Banastre Tarleton, an excellent Britsh commander of cavalry. He was an excellent general, not a cold-blooded killer, and most likely, he never shot an innocent civilian in cold blood.

All-in-all, this movie is just plain terrible. The fact that it is so incredibly historically inaccurate simply ruins the movie entirely.
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Old Hollywood Myths Peddled Anew
paul-204426 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This film is most frustrating in the way it misrepresents the nature of the war and the nature of the British rulers from whom the patriots "freed" themselves.

The first myth is that a few minutemen fought off an empire. In reality, the British government was trying to run the war on the cheap so that the army was always under-supplied and short of men. This prevented them from properly following up their consistent success against the Americans in the field. Eventually, France and Spain saw the opportunity to further their own colonial ambitions by joining the war on the side of the Americans and, by taking away maritime supremacy, made it impossible for the British to win.

The second myth is the nature of the British ruling class at that time. We are presented with the main villain who is a thinly disguised representation of Banastre Tarleton, one of the most effective commanders on either side. He is characterised as an oily Edwardian toff with an Oscar Wilde accent and the airs of a prince of the blood. In fact, Tarleton was from a middle class, Liverpool family. At that time Liverpool was a dynamic and growing world commercial centre. Its culture and atmosphere was much more akin to the Chicago of the 1880s than the leafy shires of Hollywood-England with country houses, mi-lords, milkmaids and faithful family retainers.

The Tarletons and their ilk were very "American" in their aggressive pursuit of wealth which they then used to purchase high positions in society. Young Banastre did not get his commission in the army through the nobility on his family tree. It was bought with hard cash earned by the family from the shipping trade. His relatively high rank at an early age was awarded in recognition of the ability he displayed in the field. He was by no means unique in this respect. Indeed, the character of the British officers would be much better modelled along the lines of Lawrence Harvey and Donald Wolfit in "Room at the Top" than the Merchant and Ivory anachronisms this film offers.

As to the cruelty ascribed to Tarleton and vividly practised by his proxy in the film, there may have been some truth to his having killed troops who had already surrendered. It does happen in war. But there is little evidence of a sustained policy of murder on his behalf. However, his ability to win even when at a disadvantage was certainly a problem for the enemy. No doubt inflating his reputation for ruthlessness was a useful American propaganda ploy to convince their notoriously unsteady troops that surrender or flight was not necessarily going to save them from the fury of "Bloody Ban" and his redcoats. It was sold to them as a case of fight or die.

Certainly, his alleged cruelty was not seen as generally representative of British treatment of the colonists. This is evidenced by the fact that he was the only commander of note not invited to a dinner to celebrate the end of the war attended by American, British and French officers.

Furthermore, this reputation did not follow him home where he returned and was elected to represent Liverpool in Parliament for many years before an honourable retirement to Shropshire.
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Here's Mel to give the Brits an inaccurate historical thrashing, again...
Spikeopath1 August 2009
The Patriot is based around one Benjamin Martin, an ex-soldier, who now happily living as a family man finds himself thrust into conflict at the break of the American Revolution.

He loves the Brits does Mel Gibson, Gallipoli, Braveheart and here with The Patriot, see the pattern anyone? As with the aforementioned Gallipoli and Braveheart, certain liberties have also been taken with events in The Patriot so as to glossy up for the eager Hollywood contingent. It's not my want to scribble about the facts of Benjamin Martin {Re:Francis Marion}, or William Wallace for that matter, information as such is but a mere click away on the world wide web.

So casting aside the artistic licence factors, is The Patriot any good? Well nearly it is--nearly. Gibson is fine, he shoulders the burden of the film with great gusto and no shortage of emotional depth. It's very easy to accept him as a staunch family man who transforms into a blood thirsty warrior. The problems, acting wise, lay away from Gibbo's central performance. Surrounded by caricature villains {tho Jason Isaacs' Tavington is deliciously vile} and underwritten characters {Chris Cooper wasted and Joely Richardson is but a mere prop}, Gibson has no choice but to hog the screen. So much so it ultimately turns into a one man star vehicle, which for a costume war epic isn't a great thing really.

Roland Emmerich (Independence Day and Godzilla) directs and handles the battle sequences very well, there's lashings of blood as men line up to shoot and dismember one and other. While cannonball's whizz, bang and tear off body parts, it's grim, yet oddly rousing stuff. Not even the overtly flag waving and sloganeering on show can off set the impact of the well constructed battles. There is of course lots of tragedy to be found in the film, and these are some what surprisingly, tenderly handled by Emmerich, but mostly it's via an on song Gibson, who remains one of the few modern day male actors capable of believable grief. All of this given a John Williams score that suitably flits between rousing and ethereal, and things are further boosted by the sumptuous photography from Caleb Deschanel.

There should have been more thought given to the racial {slaves} aspects in the conflict, and this coupled with the bad errors of under developed characters hurts The Patriot. Not so as to stop it being entertaining, but more to stop it being a one man show. But as it is, thanks in the main to Gibson, and in spite of its faults, it's an above average drama. 6/10
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An American fairy tale
rice-112 January 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this film on DVD for the first time having avoided it for so long. My concerns were justified and echo many of the posts here.

It is claimed that historical innacuracies and little rewrites of history are to be allowed in any film. What concerns me is that all of these inncuracies in many films are ALL pointed against the British. They form a steady drip, drip of anti Britishness which can hardly be warranted. I feel that reasons for this are possibly that our inherent sense of decency means that we tolerate such criticism, and that we are easier targets than some of the real villans in the world, whom Hollywood seems frightened to portray.

Let me mention one scene in particular


The burning of the people in the barn, this has been mentioned previous, and obviously this never happened. What is disturbing is that the only well documented instances of this actually happenning was when the Waffen SS burned the village of Orudur in France in 1944 with all of its inhabitants. and also in countless villages on the eastern front. The director, Roland Emmerich, a German, should be ashamed for linking this atrocity with Britain who did more than any other country to fight such tyranny in WW2 - disgraceful ! and remember Britain led the world in doing away with slavery when the colonies fought to retain it. Even the Alamo, was fought to retain slavery in Texas after the Mexicans had banned it - didn't see that in the film of the Alamo.

This is a fairy tale - read the history books.
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Fantastically Funny Movie!!
y2knash23 July 2000
Warning: Spoilers
What a great comedy film this is. I can't remember the last time I laughed so much at a movie!

An hilariously inept script, coupled with truly appalling acting (especially Mr Gibson and Mr Ledger) and some quite potty direction make for a surreal and pythonesque experience.


There is one scene where all these factors come together gloriously and in the future I firmly believe it will: A: Top the list of every poll as the funniest scene ever committed to celluloid. or B: Be consigned to some dark corner only to see the light of day at secret drama or film school classes in the lesson entitled 'How NOT to do it'!

The scene is this. Gabriel (Heath Ledger), distraught at the death of his new bride (and several other annoyingly self-righteous do-gooders) rides off with some pals to confront and destroy the evil Colonel Tavington (Jason Isaacs in an excellently evil performance - if this was X-Men). What follows is a lot of slow-motion killing, a 'don't go over there you fool, he's not really dead!' segment, a gasping for breath, twitching death scene in the arms of a loved one, and the most hilarious reaction acting from Gibson. He spends a couple of minutes trying to look lost in grief and ends up looking like he's chewing a wasp. Dreadful!

As for the rest of the film, nothing really comes close to this scene, although watching Mel fight off the entire British army with only his sideburns and an American flag for assistance is pretty damn funny.

All other characters are woefully underwritten and act as window-dressing only, and that's a shame. The token slave would have made an interesting sub-plot, but he ends up just that, a token slave, and the film makers lack the conviction to tell us anything about him at all.

I suppose a lot of people will expect this movie to be a true and honest portrayal of an important part of american history. If they don't come out of the theatre feeling let down and disappointed I would be amazed.

On the other hand, they might just laugh their 'nads off!
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A Travesty of History
andrew-lyall20 February 2010
Let us be clear about this. The burning of the church is a lie. It did not take place. The film, not the church, is the atrocity. Let us also get a few things straight about the American Revolution. It was fought on these issues 1. The colonists refused to contribute to the cost of their own defence (and no, that is not a spelling mistake) from the French, which had been paid for in British money and the lives of her young men. 2. It was fought so that the colonists could break out from the colonies in the East and invade Indian territory which the British Crown - George III - has designated as Native Title. Jefferson is well-documented as have his eyes set on the West. 3 In the south it was fought to maintain slavery. Most blacks fought on the British side and for good reason. They had heard of the Case of Sommersett v Stewart in which Lord Mansfield, chief justice of the King's Bench had granted habeas corpus to James Sommersett who was a slave in Virginia and had been taken to England. The Anti-Slave Trade Movement was also gaining ground in Great Britain. The film tells Americans what they want to hear. If you don't like the truth, don't make films about history.
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Do we look like idiots?
zgambit5 March 2002
As an American, I felt ashamed when I watched this movie. How must our British friends over the Atlantic feel when our movie industry produces a piece of historically inaccurate trash such as this? For any Brits reading this I can assure you that the assumptions made by this film are not the general opinion in our country (though this movie's performance at the box-office might suggest otherwise). Some of us have actually studied the events surrounding the war of independence and might feel that the British should NOT have been portrayed as Nazis. Unfortunately they are - despite the fact that they abolished slavery before us, a fact which proves they were more humane than we were at the time but which is lamely demonstrated in this movie. I've been to London recently and the Brits are amazingly tolerant about propaganda like this (not to mention Austin Powers). Luckily their famous sense of humor is alive and well. The whole film is an insult to the collective intelligence of the American people and that is enough to overshadow any positives aspects the movie might possess.
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historically inaccurate and jumbled story
iyerlakerfan8 December 2015
If you're entering the theater with the intent to place artistic integrity before blatant marketability, this is not your film. The Patriot is a jumbled, uncoordinated mess without a sense of moral ambiguity that insults the memory of American soldiers who gave their lives for a coordinated cause. It also attributes Nazi mannerisms to the British, led by Colonel William Tavington, who is portrayed by Jason Isaacs.

The plot is as similar to other Roland Emmerich productions (Godzilla, Independence Day, 10,000 B.C.) as it is insultingly simple. A colonial man named Benjamin Martin (played by Mel Gibson) is beset with disaster (the Revolutionary War), and must face it bravely, lest he lose his life as well. In the view of some, this is more of a disaster movie (both figuratively and literally) than a war movie, because Emmerich chooses to place the focus of the nearly 3-hour-long movie on the atrocities (most of which are apocryphal) committed by the British rather than the struggle of the well-meaning protagonist. In reality, church burnings by the British never occurred, there is no evidence Banastre Tarleton (renamed as Tavington in the movie and portrayed by Jason Isaacs) ever broke war rules and shot a child in cold blood, and prisoners of war were never needlessly shot down. This movie also decides that the character shouldn't own slaves (so why choose the location of South Carolina?), or it would make him look bad. This film decides to put big- budget profitability instead of historical accuracy, and hence fails to provide a proper story.

Interspersed throughout the movie are various "hilarious" segments meant to provide comic relief from a serious topic. Fake black teeth, a well- dressed Frenchman, a young lady's deaf father (who wasn't on the screen long enough to provide us anything to laugh at) and Gibson's children, offer nothing more than a simple pleasantry to distract us from Gibson mutilating a corpse with a tomahawk. However this comic relief is misplaced and takes away from the harsh realities of war. While all this may offer half a chuckle at best, one cannot miss the main problem with The Patriot: it follows a familiar storyline with monotonous characters whose struggles are too clichéd for us to sympathize with them. Additionally, the actors in this movie are curt and apathetic - e.g when a character dies, a potentially emotional and powerful scene ends up becoming a jumbled mess of pointless reassurances and quick recovery . Gibson's performance is not only limited by his monotonous drone in place of much needed emotion, but also hindered by a mediocre script and a too-liberal "Americanized" accent. However, his is not the only reviled performance. Heath Ledger is apparently sparing his talent for a later movie, as he seems to act uninterested in the production as well. Ironically, the only decent performance in this film was that of Jason Isaacs's, whose character was basically reduced to nothing but a cartoony "bad guy" left hopelessly for the audience to hate.

The movie doesn't care to focus on character development and emotions as much as it does on glorifying its special effects and slapping on a story at the end. Artistically, it provides nothing of significant merit whatsoever. For those who are looking for a film studio's excuse to show off their excellent CGI and special effects, this movie will suit their purposes. However, if you appreciate a truly compelling story, studded with wisdom, historical accuracy and a powerful message like I do, then let this disaster blow over without your help.
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Typical Hollywoods Version Of History
k-thomas6 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The Patriot reminds me of those old world war 2 movies where the Japanese used to have sinister grins on their faces and show ten rows of shiny white teeth when about to kill the good guy Americans. For entertainment, the film is good. Very good photography,action and acting. The problem is, that for American students learning about the revolutionary war, it is a complete shambles. I agree fully with entertainer Spike Lee in that the black characters were portrayed in a very insulting manner. The British at the time of the revolution abolished slavery and offered freedom to all black slaves who joined their forces. Abraham Lincoln copied this during the American civil war. To give the impression, that a bunch of farmers, clerks a priest and even small children defeated the British army, who at the time, were considered one of the most disciplined and trained armies in the world is totally ludicrous.If you watch the special features on the DVD, it is explained how the French had a large impact on the outcome of the conflict.They supplied food, clothing, shoes and military assistance, unlike the film, where there was only one French military attaché. It is even stated on the DVD, that there would not have been an America if it was not for the French. Also it fails to mention how the Native Americans had an important role in the conflict and the Dutch and Spanish, who at the time, were also at war with Britain. As i have earlier stated, the film is entertaining, but to offer it as a historical account of the revolutionary war is an insult to peoples intelligence. I have read recently, that former US President Jimmy Carter is in the process of writing a book about the conflict and has stated, that young Americans today, do not know the full facts and wants to put things right.I am looking forward to the release of this book.
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It's only harmless fictional entertainment isn't it?
rebel6622 July 2000
Wow. You have a German director depicting the British burning down a church full of women and children. Now does that strike anybody else as ironic? After having read through the majority of these comments there seems little doubt that the film makers had their target market and they reeled them in. They went for the good ol' American flag waving, it's only a movie, don't take it seriously, good vs evil, black and white, don't need any depth or characterization, American movie goer. The more discerning American based comments do not like the movie for many reasons not only the 'dreaded' Historical Accuracy (it's only a movie! Geez) or the Nazi Brits. It really would be interesting to note American reactions if the shoe was on the other foot but then it wouldn't be Hollywood so they probably wouldn't watch it anyway. This film should not surprise people however. As someone else has noted Hollywood likes to portray the British as villains and has done so for many years. They always insult the American intelligence by figuring they need a simple good versus evil story and having an accent, preferably an English one, as the evil side fits in nicely with this. They must know what they are doing too judging by the money involved and the money the likes of this make. There is a disturbing trend towards skewing facts in movies and I for one do not subscribe to the fictional entertainment debate. The simple fact is a lot of people do not know, or care to know, history and they will take movies like this as fact. I know this from personal experience. It's absurd and insulting to the British. The sad part is it's only getting worse. 'U-571' took extreme liberties considering the US were not in the war at the time the movie took place and it was the evil Brits who actually captured the Enigma machine. 'The Colditz Story' has American heroes escaping from Colditz when NONE ever did. Ah but it's only entertainment and nobody is going to think it's really happened. Right?
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10% historical drama + 30% flag waving sentimentalism + 60% Mad Max = 100% twaddle
bob the moo19 March 2006
Although the British are engaged in war in neighbouring areas, Benjamin Martin sees no reason to get involved as he is a peaceful man now, despite his infamous military background. However when the British burn his home and heartlessly kill one of his young sons, Martin knows he must take a stand and enters the conflict. With great personal sacrifice he joins the bloody conflict for freedom and honour and the love of his country.

In his episode of The Simpsons, Mel Gibson starred in a remake of Mr Smith Goes to Washington except Homer helped him to change it into a film that was closer to Lethal Weapon than the James Stewart original. That was a joke, but having just watched Mel Gibson turn the American Civil War into a sort of revenge action movie I considered that perhaps Homer had a hand in this one too and that the joke was on us for spending three hours watching it. It starts out with a bit of moral chat about the importance of peace etc but one dead son later and Benjamin Martin has become a one-man war machine, wiping out 20 British soldiers in a blink of an eye. It is the start of a morally simplistic film that offers little for those looking for a historical piece. In fairness the film never actually aims to be anything other than a modern action movie in a historical setting but having low ambitious doesn't mean it can't be criticised for being crap – because that is just what it is.

So we have the pantomime villains of the English killing women and children while the good wholesome American people (most of whom employ blacks to pick cotton rather than use slaves) try to do the right thing but are drawn into a bloody fight for freedom and justice. It is as simplistic as it sounds and every time Emmerich fears that his audience are losing touch with who the bad guys are, he'll have them burn kill a load of women with gleeful glints in their eyes. It gets tiresome very quickly and the fact that it is three hours long (give or take – I'd prefer to take) just makes it worse. Visually it looks as good as you would expect a big budget production to do but substance-wise it is just nonsense, with overblown (if impressive) battle sequences which laughably include lots of John Woo style use of guns, slow-mo and catching weapons in mid-air before using them. The bits in between the action are no better as they are merely twists of an emotional knife that the writer must have hoped would make us overlook how simplified everything is; I was waiting for the scene where Col Tavington drowned kittens in a sack to demonstrate how evil he was. No, this is not a film to come to for debate because as far as Rodat is concerned, that is all done and dusted in the early stages and then completely dismissed as nonsense by the next 160 minutes of film. I'm not going to even get into the historical liberties taken because even ignoring them this is still a terrible load of rubbish.

Once the film gets going, Mel Gibson only does a couple of things: he is either cocky (like Riggs), brave (like Braveheart) or full of indignation and swelling pride in his country. He flicks between these like someone was turning a switch in his back; he is never consistent and he is never a real person – in fact he is never anyone other than Mel Gibson. Heath Ledger gives a simplistic performance but with no material to work with, what could he do? I don't know why Richardson bothered to show up although I can appreciate that Karyo and Wilkinson have mortgages to pay just like the rest of us. I don't give the same excuse to Cooper because he always struck me as an intelligent actor who makes good decisions – he is really too good to be earning his money from this. The support all do what they are told but I don't want to be too hard on the majority of the cast simply because the material is not there and nobody can do good work with characters that would seem underdeveloped on children's television.

Overall this is a good looking and noisy action movie and as such it might just please audiences that like lots of things blowing up and Americans being the good guys. However for the majority of viewers the simplistic material, stomach-churning flag-waving, emotional exploitation and dumb action movie clichés. It is nonsense from start to finish in my opinion and it is not worth 90 minutes, far less 170.
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An Amazing Film
po5mrk29 June 2000
"The Patriot" may very well be labeled this year's "Saving Private Ryan". While the two films are strikingly different, they share the common theme of American patriotism and this country's stand on independence. "The Patriot" gives an idea of the kind of hardships settlers faced in the war for our independence.

The casting of "The Patriot" was brilliant! Mel Gibson once again gives us a moving performance as Ben Martin, a passionate man that is trying desperately to keep his family together after the death of his wife. Perhaps one of the more surprisingly superb performances is that of Heath Ledger (10 Things I Hate about You) as Gabriel Martin, the stubborn oldest son of the Martin family. These two stars lead the cast in teaching such lessons as what it means to be a patriot and a hero, the cost of freedom, and the value of family.

"The Patriot" is a well written story that is guaranteed to give you goosebumps. After seeing this movie, Independence Day will take on a new meaning for everyone.
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Disgrace to cinema and American history.
rikuhourula28 August 2001
Not only is this movie consistently predictable (who'd have thought a fight to the finish between the good guy and the embodiment of evil at the end?) but it makes a mockery of US History.

There is one obligatory villan who would never have found his way into the British army as an officer. Then there is the depiction of the happy slave, an insult to the millions of Africans brought here and chains and whipped and raped by their "masters." Anachronisms abound, from what people to say to the weapons of war. The Patriot is what a historical epic directed by Ed Wood would have been like.
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