The Patriot (2000 film)

The Patriot (2000 film)

Infobox Film
name=The Patriot

caption=A promotional film poster for "The Patriot".
starring=Mel Gibson
Jason Isaacs
Heath Ledger
Joely Richardson
Chris Cooper
Tom Wilkinson
Tchéky Karyo
director=Roland Emmerich
writer=Robert Rodat
producer=Dean Devlin
Mark Gordon
Gary Levinsohn
cinematography=Caleb Deschanel
editing=David Brenner
distributor=Columbia Pictures
released=June 28, 2000
runtime=164 minutes
production company=Mutual Film Company
Centropolis Entertainment

genre=Drama, Historical
music=John Williams
awards=ASC Award
BMI Film Music Award
Blockbuster Entertainment Award
Harry Award
Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylish Guild Award

budget=$110,000,000 USD (estimated)
gross= $113,330,000 (U.S.) $101,970,000 (intl.) $215,300,000 (world) [ [ The Patriot - Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information] at The Numbers. Retrieved 9 July 2008.]

"The Patriot" is a 2000 war film directed by Roland Emmerich, written by Robert Rodat, and starring Mel Gibson. It was produced by the Mutual Film Company and Centropolis Entertainment, and was distributed by Columbia Pictures. The film mainly takes place in South Carolina and depicts the fictional account of a war hero swept into the American Revolutionary War when his family was threatened. "The Patriot" was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Sound, Best Cinematography and Best Original Score.


It is the late 18th century, in South Carolina. Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) is a veteran of the French and Indian War and a widower raising his seven children on his farm. Gabriel (Heath Ledger), the eldest, is anxious to join the American forces fighting the British in the Revolutionary War, even if it means doing so without his father's permission. Ben, who knows from first-hand experience the horrifying carnage that war presents from his experience in the French and Indian War, wants to discourage his son from participating.

When South Carolina votes to go to war, Gabriel joins the Continentals against his fathers wishes. He returns home after two years, stumbling wounded into the family home, carrying dispatches between commanders. That night, a skirmish between the British and the Continentals wakes the Martins and they give care to the wounded of both sides the next morning. British soldiers - the ruthless Green Dragoon cavalry - approach the house, proceed to kill the Colonial wounded, burn down the house and take Gabriel into custody as a spy, intending to hang him. Ben's 15-year-old (and second) son Thomas (Gregory Smith) is killed trying to free Gabriel as he is taken prisoner, shot by the ruthless and cold-hearted leader of the Green Dragoons, Col. William Tavington (Jason Isaacs) even though the boy posed no real threat.

An enraged Ben sets about to free his son Gabriel, with the help of his two younger sons Nathan and Samuel (played by Trevor Morgan and Bryan Chafin). The three of them manage to kill many of the British troops holding Gabriel (with Ben telling his boys to aim first for the officers). While their brother is freed, the boys are all horrified -- particularly Samuel -- at their first glimpse of their kindly father ferociously killing men with his knife and tomahawk. Gabriel re-joins the cause against his father's will again stating it is his duty as a soldier. Ben decides to join the fight later when he catches up with his son and they report together, leaving the rest of the children in the care of their aunt Charlotte (Joely Richardson), the sister of Ben's deceased wife.

Ben quickly concludes the poorly trained and ill-experienced Colonials cannot hope to beat the British in set piece battles - shooting at each other in open field, as was the custom of warfare at the time - because the British are too well trained and well armed. Continental Army Colonel Harry Burwell (Chris Cooper), having fought alongside Ben in the French and Indian War, asks Martin to organize a militia designed to keep British General Cornwallis in the south until the French navy arrives with 10,000 soldiers as re-enforcements. French Officer Jean Villeneuve (Tchéky Karyo), is present to help train the militia having witnessed his wife and daughters burned alive by the British army while aboard a ship. The South Carolina militia is called up and adopts guerrilla tactics, using elements of surprise and attack, to harry the British supply lines (including the capture of Lord Cornwallis' personal effects and prize Great Dane's and the destruction of a supply ship in front of a ball at Middleton Place for the British officers). To combat the militia, Cornwallis - who had previously berated Tavington for his callousness towards civilians and executing surrendering troops, - authorizes Tavington to pursue more brutal tactics in order to draw Ben out. Tavington tracks Ben's family to their refuge with Charlotte and burns down her plantation. However, the family escapes, and are led to a safe haven by Gabriel. During this time, Gabriel marries Anne Howard (Lisa Brenner), a wartime marriage during a furlough. Soon after the marriage, returning home, Anne and her family, along with all the townspeople, are burned alive whilst locked in the church. The orders for this horrific act came from Tavington.

When a furious Gabriel discovers what has happened, he and a small group of men ride to engage the Dragoons. During the fight, many men on both sides are killed, leaving Gabriel and the Reverend to face off against Tavington. A few others escape with major wounds. The Reverend is shot, but throws his ready loaded musket to Gabriel, who shoots Tavington, who promptly falls to the ground. However, as Gabriel approaches Tavington's body with his knife in his hand to stab him, Tavington turns over and stabs Gabriel in the stomach with his sword. As Tavington escapes, Benjamin approaches the scene in time to find Gabriel dying on the ground. Ben is devastated and his zeal for combat extinguished. However Ben soon returns to the Continentals, carrying the American flag high, promising himself to stay the course.

In the final battle, Col. Harry Burwell and Villeneuve help Benjamin defeat the British, by using the militia (who are held in low regard by the British officers) as a feint. Although Col. Tavington has been told by Gen. Cornwallis not to intervene until ordered, Tavington and his Dragoons charge into the fray.

Soon Benjamin and Tavington are able to face off, one on one. As Tavington gains the upper hand in their vicious fight, and the pain of his wounds brings Benjamin to his knees, Tavington mutters, "Kill me before the war is over, will you? It appears, you are not the better man." As he swings his sword ready to behead Benjamin, Ben dodges and stabs him with a bayonet-fitted musket in return, picks up a detached bayonet lying nearby on the ground and replies, "You're right... my "sons" were better men." Ben stabs Tavington in the throat, killing him.

Meanwhile, a disappointed General Cornwallis (Tom Wilkinson) sounds the retreat as the rebels celebrate. As Ben narrates, we are told that the British were defeated when the French finally arrived to block the British off. Cornwallis and his aides are holed up in a house, bombarded by Continental and French fire. A dumbfounded Cornwallis, realising his defeat, declares: "Everything will change....everything "has" changed". The final scene features Martin and his family arriving at a site where the foundations of homes lie. Occam tells Ben, "Gabriel said that if we won the war, we could build a whole new world. Just figured we'd get started right here, with your home." Benjamin smiles as he replies, "Sounds good", before shaking hands with Occam and walking with his family towards their new, free future.


*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
*René Auberjonois - Reverend Oliver
*Lisa Brenner - Anne Howard
*Tom Wilkinson - Gen. Charles Cornwallis
*Peter Woodward - Maj. Gen. Charles O'Hara
*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
*Mika Boorem - Margaret Martin
*Skye McCole Bartusiak - Susan Martin
*Trevor Morgan - Nathan Martin
*Bryan Chafin - Samuel martin



Screenwriter Robert Rodat wrote 17 drafts of the script before there was an acceptable one.In an earlier version of the script, Anne is pregnant with Gabriel's child when she dies in the burning church. There are still hints of this, however, as Gabriel suggests to his father in a previous scene that he now has a family of his own.Rodat wrote the script with Mel Gibson in mind for Benjamin Martin, and gave the Martin character 6 children to signal this preference to studio executives. After the birth of Gibson’s seventh child, the script was changed so that Martin had 7 children.


Joshua Jackson, Elijah Wood, and Brad Renfro were considered to play Gabriel Martin. The producers and director narrowed their choices for this role to Ryan Phillippe and Heath Ledger. Ledger was chosen because, in their opinion, he possessed "exuberant youth."
Harrison Ford reportedly declined the lead role. [ [ The Patriot - Trivia ] ]


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 of advice so much he incorporated it into the movie, just prior to the ambush scene.

Much of the movie was filmed on location in South Carolina, including Mansfield Plantation, a historic antebellum rice plantation located in Georgetown, South Carolina.


The film maintains a 62% positive rating among all critics (and a mere 38% among top critics) on Rotten Tomatoes, which notes that it "can be entertaining to watch, but it relies too much on formula and melodrama." [] []

Historical inaccuracy

Despite its financial success, "The Patriot" generated a notable amount of criticism from critics and historians for its inaccurate depiction of events in the Revolutionary War. Because of the level of violence in the film, including a scene showing two children killing a group of soldiers, in the U.S. the film was classified 'R' for strong war violence. [ [,,160530,00.html ‘Gibson blockbuster baits the censors’] , "Guardian Unlimited", 13 April 2000. Retrieved 31 October 2007.] Historian David Hackett Fischer wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times on July 1, 2000 pointing out that although the film purports to be a history of the American Revolution "egregious errors appear in every scene." "The problem is not merely that a director has failed an academic test of accuracy, but that the errors have weakened the film's dramatic impact by making our War of Independence appear so artificial," wrote Fischer. "He would have done better if he had listened to history more closely."

Depiction of protagonist

Mel Gibson's character is a composite loosely based on five historical figures: Francis Marion, Daniel Morgan, Elijah Clark, Thomas Sumter, and Andrew Pickens. The primary figure on which Mel Gibson's fictional character Benjamin Martin is loosely based is Francis Marion, a militia leader in South Carolina who was known as the "Swamp Fox." Challenging the film's accuracy, the British newspaper "The Guardian" condemned Francis Marion as ‘a serial rapist who hunted Red Indians for fun’, and quoted historian Christopher Hibbert as saying: ‘The truth is that people like Marion committed as bad, if not worse, than those perpetrated by the British.’ [ [,,332358,00.html ‘Mel Gibson's latest hero: a rapist who hunted Indians for fun’] , "Guardian Unlimited", 15 June, 2000. Retrieved 31 October 2007.] Hibbert does not provide sources for these opinions; but it should be noted that in the film, Gibson's fictional character does acknowledge an involvement in severe acts of brutality during the French and Indian War. In his lengthy book "Redcoats and Rebels: The American Revolution Through British Eyes" written before "The Patriot" was released, Hibbert has no criticism of Marion. In a commentary published in the "National Review", conservative talk radio host Michael Graham said he understood Hibbert's desire to re-write history but rejected Hibbert's criticisms:

:"Was Francis Marion a slave owner? Was he a determined and dangerous warrior? Did he commit acts in an 18th-century war that we would consider atrocious in the current world of peace and political correctness? As another great American film hero might say: "You damn right." :"That's what made him a hero, 200 years ago and today." [ Guest Comment ] ] Michael Graham also refers to what he describes as "the unchallenged work of South Carolina's premier historian Dr. Walter Edgar, who pointed out in his 1998 'South Carolina: A History' that Marion's partisans were "a ragged band of both black and white volunteers."

Amy Crawford, in "Smithsonian Magazine," stated that modern historians such as William Gilmore Simms and Hugh Rankin have written accurate biographies of Marion, including Simms’ “The Life of Francis Marion.” [ The Swamp Fox, By Amy Crawford, Smithsonian Magazine,, July 01, 2007, ] The introduction to the 2007 edition of Simms' book was written by Sean Busick, a professor of American history at Athens State University in Alabama, who says that based on the facts, "Marion deserves to be remembered as one of the heroes of the War for Independence." [ The Swamp Fox, By Amy Crawford, Smithsonian Magazine,, July 01, 2007, ] “Francis Marion was a man of his times: he owned slaves, and he fought in a brutal campaign against the Cherokee Indians...Marion's experience in the French and Indian War prepared him for more admirable service." [ The Swamp Fox, By Amy Crawford, Smithsonian Magazine,, July 01, 2007, ]

Depiction of antagonist

Ben Fenton, commenting in the British "Telegraph" on the sadistic character of Colonel William Tavington, purportedly based on Colonel Banastre Tarleton, wrote: ‘there is no evidence that Tarleton, called "Bloody Ban" or "The Butcher" in rebel pamphlets, ever broke the rules of war and certainly not that he ever shot a child in cold blood.’ [Ben Fenton, [ ‘Truth is first casualty in Hollywood's war’] , "The Telegraph", 19 June 2000. Retrieved, 31 October 2007.] Tarleton's involvement in the Waxhaws massacre in South Carolina has stained his reputation, but Liverpool City Council, led by Mayor Edwin Clein, called for a public apology for what they viewed as the film’s ‘character assassination’ of Tarleton, a former local Member of Parliament who strongly supported the slave trade in which Liverpool was closely involved. [ [,4029,338280,00.html ‘Patriotic Liverpool up in arms over Gibson's blockbuster’] , "Guardian Unlimited", 30 June 2000. Retrieved 31 October 2007.]

However when recounting the Battle of Waxhaw Creek, known to the Americans as the Buford Massacre or as the Waxhaw Massacre, a member of the British Army who was there, a surgeon named Robert Brownfield, recounted Tarleton's actions, "... Tarleton with his cruel myrmidons was in the midst of them, when commenced a scene of indiscriminate carnage, never surpassed by the ruthless atrocities of the barbarous savages." In Tarleton's own account, he virtually admits the massacre, stating that his horse had been shot from under him during the initial charge and his men, thinking him dead, engaged in "a vindictive asperity not easily restrained." The Waxhaw massacre became an important rallying cry for the revolutionaries. Many people who had been more or less neutral became ardent supporters of the Revolution after the perceived atrocities. "Tarleton's quarter", meaning no quarter would be offered to British and Loyalist Soldiers, became a rallying cry for American Patriots for the rest of the war.

Depiction of historical battles

The climactic battle at the end of the film is based on a conglomeration of Pickens' actions at the Battle of Cowpens where Tarleton was defeated and Cornwallis was not present, and the battles of Guilford Courthouse, Hobkirk's Hill and Eutaw Springs where Marion fought and which Cornwallis won. [ New York Times. " Hubris, But No History" by David Hackett Fischer. July 1, 2008] ]

Depiction of atrocities in the Revolutionary War

Also of concern was the film’s featuring of atrocities in the Revolutionary War, including the heavy emphasis on the killing of prisoners, wounded and children, culminating in a group of townsfolk being burnt alive in a church, in a scene that closely resembles the massacre of Oradour in German-occupied France in 1944: in a review article in, Jonathan Foreman, film critic for the "New York Post", wrote: ‘The most disturbing thing about "The Patriot" is not just that German director Roland Emmerich (director of" Independence Day)" and his screenwriter Robert Rodat (who was criticized for excluding British and other Allied soldiers from his script for "Saving Private Ryan") depict British troops as committing savage atrocities, but that those atrocities bear such a close resemblance to war crimes carried out by German troops - particularly the SS in World War II. It's hard not to wonder if the filmmakers have some kind of subconscious agenda ... They have made a film that will have the effect of inoculating audiences against the unique historical horror of Oradour - and implicitly rehabilitating the Nazis while making the British seem as evil as history's worst monsters ... So it's no wonder that the British press sees this film as a kind of blood libel against the British people.’ [Jonathan Foreman, [ ‘The Nazis, er, the Redcoats are coming!’] ,, 3 July 2000. Retrieved 31 October 2007.]

Depiction of slavery

In a letter to the editor of the "Hollywood Reporter "U.S. director Spike Lee also accused the film’s portrayal of slavery as being ‘a complete whitewashing of history.’ [,4029,340343,00.html ‘Spike Lee slams Patriot’] , "Guardian Unlimited", 6 July 2000. Retrieved 31 October 2007.] Lee says that after he and his wife went to see the movie, "we both came out of the theatre fuming. For three hours The Patriot dodged around, skirted about or completely ignored slavery. How convenient... to have Mel Gibson's character not be a slaveholder... The Patriot is pure, blatant American Hollywood propaganda. A complete whitewashing of history."



#"The Patriot: The Official Companion" by Suzanne Fritz Rachel Aberly
#"The Patriot: A Novel" by Stephen Molstad

External links

*imdb title|id=0187393|title=The Patriot
*rotten-tomatoes|id=1098149-patriot|title=The Patriot
* [ "The Patriot"] at The Numbers
* [ The Patriot Resource]

Box Office Leaders USA
before = "Shaft"
date = June 25
year = 2000
after = "The Perfect Storm"

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