- What if the atrocities of war came to your front yard
-- if your son was shot in the back in cold blood -- if your house was
torched while you looked on helplessly?
- Directed by Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day")
and written by Robert Rodat ("Saving Private Ryan"),"The
Patriot" is the archetypal story of the Reluctant Warrior. He's the
man who has seen -- and experienced -- too much bloodshed, yet he understands
that the fight for freedom is a never-ending battle, as long as tyrants
walk the earth.
- The film begins in 1776 with a South Carolina farmer,
Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), a widower with seven children and the veteran
of the French and Indian Wars.
- While his son Gabriel (Heath Ledger) is eager to enlist
in the Continental Army, Martin delivers an impassioned speech against
the war, declaring, "I'm a parent. I haven't got the luxury of [having]
- Bathed in the golden light of magic hour, however, the
family's idyllic lifestyle is shattered by British troops and their ruthless
slaughter of the colonials. After his own son is murdered by the British
dragoon Col. Tavington (Jason Isaacs) and his house is burned down, Martin
breaks out his cache of flintlock rifles and takes his 10 and 12 year old
boys on a raid against the cruel invaders.
- Indeed "The Patriot" shows the inception of
guerilla warfare in America, loosely based on the exploits of Francis Marion
the "Swamp Fox," hero of the Disney TV shows. Martin's prayer,
"Lord, make me fast and accurate," makes the ensuing bloodbath
all the more ironic. The brutal, graphically violent, hand-to-hand fighting
with hatchet and musket is so shocking that even his boys are speechless
at the transformation of their father into a blood and gore drenched killing
- In the age-old conflict between family and duty, the
son tells his father, "I'm a soldier. It's my duty [to fight]."
The father replies, "Your duty is to your family." In this context
(patriot, by the way, is "a person who loves, supports and defends
his or her country"), the film is framed around the question -- when
does self-defense becomes the most important issue in a man's life?
- As an answer, Martin's pacifism disappears and he joins
his war veteran friend Col. Burwell (Chris Cooper) as the head of the South
Carolina Militia. "Going muzzle to muzzle with the Redcoats in the
field -- it's madness," he says, as he develops his own hit-and-run
fighting style which wreaks havoc with what the British consider the "proper"
protocols of war.
- As the farmer-turned-soldier continues to melt his murdered
son's tin soldiers into lead balls for his musket, the war moves on through
more battles, more slaughter and more bloodshed.
- "I have long feared that my sins would come back
to visit me and the cost is more than I can bear," he says. Mel Gibson's
performance as the vulnerable grief-filled family man, the man of constant
sorrows, is made more poignant by his understanding of the karma of war.
- Just as the film "Gladiator" defined The Betrayal
of the Warrior, the theme of "The Patriot" is The Warrior's Redemption.
The inconsolable grief of seeing your children die in battle is made more
poignant by the Warrior's ineffable understanding. "You can justify
this sacrifice? Why do men feel they can justify death?" he asks.
- German-born director Emmerich's staging of the spectacle
of the American Revolutionary War and its atrocities, as well as the grueling
emotions of combat are bereft of the gung-ho drippiness of "Independence
Day." The sticky sentimentality of Rodat's "Saving Private Ryan"
is also thankfully absent.
- Curiously, however, the film omits any mention of the
mercenary Hessian (read German) soldiers who were drafted and sent to the
New World to fight for King George III.
- "The Patriot," however, will be provocative
to the anglophiles who are so vocal on behalf of the "cousins."
British film reviewers have chided Gibson for so-called "historical
distortions," i.e. Brits have not always acted like ruthless nazis
in pursuit of their Empire. The mayor of Liverpool even asked for an apology
regarding the portrayal of the Tavington character. Several of Gibson's
other movies, after all, have had British villains, notably "Gallipoli"
- "The Patriot" is also resonant with the immediacy
-- and politically incorrect inferences -- of current history. When the
British colonel burns down a church full of people, one can't help but
be reminded of the Waco Massacre and the slaughter of the innocents by
FBI snipers, Delta Forces and other government troops.
- In another pointed remark, the Mel Gibson character says,
"I believe you underestimated our militia."
- "The Patriot" then is Mel Gibson's shot across
the bow, a note of warning to the New World Orderlies and the globalists
who would promote their schemes for a tyrannical One World Government.
The film is also a powerful anti-gun control statement, and a pointed reminder
that as long as Americans have weapons, they will defend themselves.
- Unilateral disarmament of the people of any nation has
always been a precedent to the holocaust which invariably follows.
- When the foppish Gen. Cornwallis (Tom Wilkinson) is shocked
by the war's outcome, he sneers, "This army of rabble. Peasants."
It's a wink to the audience that the tyrants of the world will never fully
overcome the indefatigable forces of freedom.
- Tyranny will not stand -- whether in Soviet Washington
or in the globalists' plans for genocide and world enslavement.
- Moral of the story? As the saying goes -- keep your power
- And to paraphrase another phrase -- Freedom Fighters
of the World Unite.
- Copyright © 2000 Uri Dowbenko. All Rights Reserved.
- Uri Dowbenko is CEO of New Improved Entertainment Corp.
He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com
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