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The Revolutionary War was a very important time for America, it has inspired countless novels and documents, and even films. In the film, The Patriot, directed by Roland Emmerich features star actors such as Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs, etc. From the controversial comparison of the British army to Nazi Germany as well as the historical inaccuracies. Nonetheless, this film was a powerful piece of art that has shaped many American’s perspectives on the war.
In the film we see Mel Gibson as the main protagonist, Benjamin Martin, who is a widowed man with several children. He leads a very passive lifestyle after fighting in the French and Indian War. He considers himself a patriot yet, sticks with his loyalist values. This is quite the opposite with his children who are very patriotic, one being his eldest son, Gabriel, who joins the Continental Army to fight against the Red Coats. Over time, Benjamin loses his son, Thomas who sacrificed himself so that Gabriel may escape. This sparks a sudden burst of Patriotism in Benjamin. Throughout the film we watch Benjamin grow from a passive man to a brave and outgoing hero commanding a local militia in the fight against the British army. After many losses, Benjamin is finally able to avenge his sons’ deaths in the final battle.
Here in this film we see this idea similar to the epic narratives in the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer. These narratives portray a hero who rises from nothing and becomes a character larger than life. These characters were able to go through things that most men would be unable to endure. In The Patriot, Benjamin Martin is this hero who goes through the loss of two children inspiring him to fight for his beliefs as well as to avenge the death of his children. He becomes a true patriot.
However, despite the positive message the movie sent out, there was a lot negative criticism due to how the British was portrayed. For example, a lot of the acts committed in this movie were compared to how Nazi Germany was. The infamous church burning scene never occurred in real life, with no historical proof to ever been documented to prove otherwise, was considered an act that the Nazis were capable of. In reality the British never fought this brutally and if anything, we saw a lot of “guerilla” styled fighting from the American side. Racial issues were rarely brought up in this movie as well despite the powerful influence it had at the time. For example, slaves never really played an important role other than working in the background. Also we see this inaccurate portrayal of the workers and their treatment. Abigail, a worker, was very close to the family which is something rarely seen around those times. The only accuracy we saw was that slaves were considered lower than the others. In one scene, we saw a soldier in the militia ask another colored soldier, “What are you fighting for?” Because in reality, what were they fighting for? However, this shows patriotism arise in someone other than a white person.
Overall, this was a very good film with a powerful message. Despite some historical inaccuracies, it makes for an interesting movie that offers a lot to talk about. This film was able to take a historical event and make it into their own with the burning church scene and the brutal killings. Mel Gibson did a very good job at his portrayal of a historical patriot because despite being a larger than life character, some patriots were that way.
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