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Author Topic: The Patriot
Aaron Mehocic
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 804
From: New Castle, PA, USA
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 07-01-2000 09:07 AM      Profile for Aaron Mehocic   Email Aaron Mehocic   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In some of my posts on the forum I mentioned that "The Patriot" will not appeal to many people because of its history lessons. Most people can't identify with the era of powdered wigs and tri-corn hats, so Hollywood essentially (and rightly) stayed away. Of all the American wars, the Revolution is mostly overlooked, and with good reason. Anyone remember Al Pacino's disaster "Revolution" (1982)? How about Tommy Lee Jone's good, but made for that stupid Hallmark Hall of Fame series, "April Morning" (1987)? Generally speaking, the American Revolution is something most people don't understand, and really don't care about in the first place.

Mel Gibson, Dean Devlin, and Robert Rodat are trying to change all that and they may be succeeding. Allthough I am sure "Perfect Storm" will do better overall business than "The Patriot", This film is WAY BETTER in depth and scope. Gibson's character, Benjamin Martin is magnificent. A soldier in the French and Indian War (a colonial conflict for possession of Eastern North America between the British and the French during the 1750's), Martin embodies American idividualism. A gentleman farmer who only sholders his musket and tomahawk after his land becomes a battlefield in a new war and his children witnesses to that war. Gibson brings his usual flair for acting to this role and in some of his manorisms and actions there is even a tinge of character Martin Riggs from "Lethal Weapon". That was very appealing! Robert Rodat wrote this script with Gibson in mind for the title role from the start, and it is good that he did. I don't think this movie could be as entertaining as it was without Mel's one-liners and commanding screen presence.

This leads us to the plot. Without giving too much away, I felt this film was quit historically acurate. Martin's descriptions to Heath Ledger's character Gabriel, of the atrocities he committed at Fort Wilderness, were a very real aspect of colonial fighting in North America. The actions of Martin's militia group poping out of the forests, swamps, and cotton fields to fight, then simply disappear was very representitive of the War in the southern states after 1779. The free slave communities along the Atlantic beaches were also common and exhisted much as was shown in the film. The climax of the film shows the Battle of Cowpens as it actually happened, albeit Gibson's character leading a particular charge that really never occurred. The only aspect of this film that DID bother me was the accuracy of the weapons. There is no possible way a 50 caliber bullet shot from a British Officer's pistol packing 20 grain of blackpowder would kill a man off his horse 100 yards away. The Smithsonian historical consultants should have caught that right away!!!!! (If you haven't guessed I moon light as a history teacher - just don't tell anyone!)

Allthough this is not the best movie I ever saw, it does have a quality to it that is lacking in many films today. I'm not sure that it is worthy of any Oscars, but given what we've seen so far . . . Anyway, I give it three out of four stars and recommend it. If not for the history, than go see it for a wonderful performance from a young, but surely up and comming cast.


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Tyler Skinner
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 115
From: Pa
Registered: Nov 1999


 - posted 07-01-2000 12:16 PM      Profile for Tyler Skinner   Email Tyler Skinner   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I didn't like it at all.

I saw many historical points that were good but mostly it was just made up crap. The movie shouldn't have been so washed out with drama and had more of a historical feeling to it. The English were so stereotyped just to make them more EVIL. I didn't think there was any need to show them shooting wounded, shotting children, and burning people inside a church, other than to make the audience hate them even more. Then they went to all extremes to make the one Oficer become the devil just to have a poorly shot showdown at the end with Mel Gibson ala Gladiator. This just didn't make sense to me. I don't see why they had to have this character. He was just there to make the storyline a bit more formula.

They should have had much more history. They should have shown much more of the war driving cornwallis back to Yorktown, and more of the battle of Yorktown for that matter. All the filler with his son and the girl (the scene where the girl stood up in church and told off the elders was laughable as well) should have been cut, there was no reason to make this movie 3 hours long other than Dean Devil wanting to make an epic piece of historical blashpemous crap. And all during watching this I couldn't stop thinking that this great American Character they created is being played by an Australian.

The screen writers of this should never work again, all they did was take a few historical points they probably pulled from an elementary school textbook, and plugged in the characters from other movies and added a few 90's politically correct motif's like the slave wanting to fight and get along with the bigots. And don't tell me a wealthy plantation landowner from the south actually PAID his slaves. Don't make me laugh any harder. At this point who cares about historical accuracy, lets have an earthquake cause a tital wave and nock out the French fleet and have the english crucify the soldiers and line them up on the roads. That would make the movie more entertaining, no?

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Greg Anderson
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 766
From: Ogden Valley, Utah
Registered: Nov 1999


 - posted 07-01-2000 01:17 PM      Profile for Greg Anderson   Author's Homepage   Email Greg Anderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Actually, Mel Gibson was born in upstate New York and didn't go to Australia until he was 12. I don't know which country claims him now, however, or which is collecting income taxes from him. (Just wanted to nit-pick. Excuse me.)

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Aaron Mehocic
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 804
From: New Castle, PA, USA
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 07-02-2000 09:26 PM      Profile for Aaron Mehocic   Email Aaron Mehocic   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Tyler,
You bring out some good points, in fact points we talked about where I work. OK, the woman rousing the men in the church to fight, yes, that scene was laughable. In real life her father would probably have pulled her down right away, and that would have been that. Another fact you mentioned was that the British (and our side too) were animals when it came to fighting. Hell, I was actually entertained by that because a writer finally got it right and didn't dumb it down, or try to be politically correct with respect to the British.

I would have loved to see a film much like you explain, the war in the South, or the battles Cornwallis fought to get to Yorktown; but I'm not certain the rest of the world would. Overall it was good entertainment and doing what it was written to do - that is generate income. However, you do hint at a very interesting question: If the British were made out to be "EVIL", how will their decendants view the movie once it opens in the United Kingdom? Now thats what I'm waiting for!


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Steven Parsonage
Film Handler

Posts: 2
From: St. Louis, MO, USA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 07-03-2000 01:06 PM      Profile for Steven Parsonage   Email Steven Parsonage   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I had high hopes for the Patriot coming into the film, but was disappointed after the first 30 minutes. The movie starts with an intriguing premise. Mel is a guy who doesn't want to fight because he has personal demons from the past, and is a single parent raising a large family. Obviously, at some point the British push him too far, and he gets Revolutionary on their red-coated behinds. There is a very well done, hair-raising rescue/ambush scene which kinda sets up that the movie won't just be a simple revenge melodrama, but that Mel's war will really be one about overcoming personal demons, and holding his family together.

But just as quickly, they toss all this good setup out the window. It becomes a simple revenge melodrama. They piss off Mel, and he grabs his monogrammed tomahawk and turns into the terminator. Now I like these kind of movies too, so I was prepared to shrug my shoulders, relax and see a dumb summer action movie.

But then they don't even do this right. The movie devolves into a series of extremely violent but hokey situations, fakey relationships, cliches galore, and trite attempts at tying up all the plot's loose ends. The worst thing about this, is that it's all done in the name of "historical accuracy".

The film, IHMO, is *not* historically accurate at all. And I'm not saying that as a stickler for getting a proper history lesson at the expense of seeing a good movie. I like dumb action movies as much as the next guy. But the story is so cliched and manipulative that the what little historical accuracy is achieved on the part of the Smithsonian-advised production designers/costumers (etc) is wasted on situations that are totally implausible.

For example, Mel's slaves are "conveniently" freedmen working for wages. Joely Richardson's plantation slaves are very accurately costumed, but seemingly happy (yes happy!), and only exist in the film so the British can blow them away (to alert the main characters that they're in danger, kinda like the pack-bearers in a Tarzan movie who get killed off so the main characters know to duck). Finally, Mel's family escapes to a real place, Gullah island, populated by escaped slaves (real-life historical reenactors who sing Gullah-dialect songs and practice traditional Gullah crafts). All this "historical accuracy" is a bust, because when Mel's family arrives, none of the islanders even asks what a bunch of white slaveowners are doing in their village, or who the hell they are! All they do is provide happy, singing local color, and imply that America was racially harmonius and united against the British. But mostly, Gullah island is just like the Ewok village in Return of the Jedi. I kid you not! Barf! And how come the movie takes place over 7 years time, but at the end, Mel's kids haven't aged a day? And how come a bunch of swamp-based guerilla fighters always seem dressed immaculately? Especially Mel in his suit and starched collar? And why do battles always take place at dawn or dusk, and the sun always backlights everyone? And how come after he totally alienates his kids, they all suddenly love him because it's convenient to the plot?

And the cliches! The British are the usual bunch of stereotypical effeminate jerks. There are three scenes in which British leaders are told bad news while being dressed or shaved. The evil villain has no depth. All he does is kill stuff evilly. If there were baby seals to club and whales to harpoon, he'd do it in each scene. SPOILER ALERT: he even gets shot, and while seemingly dead, suddenly springs back to life to kill a major character. Is this cliche? Just rent Halloween 1,2,3,4; Friday the 13th 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 & 8; and all the Freddy Kruger movies to find out! Oh yeah, and Mel pulls the same move later on. Twice in one movie. Yecch.

And the worst thing that happens in the Patriot, is that LOTS of people die (probably a higher body count than the actual war). Mel loses half his family. A guy loses his wife and child so he blows his brains out. An entire church full of the guerilla fighters' loved ones is burned to death. Yet at the end, everyone is way too happy, AS IF NONE OF IT EVER HAPPENED! Un-freakin-believable. And the attitude of the film makers is "see, you're seeing something really profound and moving". No I'm not! I'm just seeing a blah action movie with characters who use Freddy Kruger-Fu in lieu of intelligence or a good plot.

There are so many more problems like this, they are beyond counting. There are so many, no matter how much I wanted to like the Patriot, I couldn't ignore them. After 2 hours and 40 minutes of trying to like the Patriot, all it did was make me want to grab a monogrammed tomahawk and exact vengeance on the film makers.

I should have known--Emmerich and Devlin made Stargate, Godzilla and Universal Soldier. They just got lucky with ID4.

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Tyler Skinner
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 115
From: Pa
Registered: Nov 1999


 - posted 07-03-2000 01:44 PM      Profile for Tyler Skinner   Email Tyler Skinner   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
>>>But the story is so cliched and manipulative that the what little historical accuracy is achieved on the part of the Smithsonian-advised production designers/costumers (etc) is wasted on situations that are totally implausible.>>>

that just about sums up the entire movie. what a waste.

>>>I should have known--Emmerich and Devlin made Stargate, Godzilla and Universal Soldier. They just got lucky with ID4. >>>

ID4 was a piece of crap too. Filmakers need to learn that they can't base there creativity on other movies they have seen, and what they think the audience will go see.


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Greg Mueller
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1687
From: Port Gamble, WA
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 07-03-2000 02:33 PM      Profile for Greg Mueller   Author's Homepage   Email Greg Mueller   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Say Tyler
You really need to get a grip on what making movies is all about for the studios.
The studios are manufacturers. If they don't manufacture something they think the public will buy, they will not make money (which is what they are in business to do) and they will go out of business. If you were in business for yourself, you would understand that the public is where the money comes from and you must please as many of them as possible, or at least try to, to make ends meet. It would be real nice if we lived in a world were we could all exercise all of our creative and whimsical talents, but life is not like that. The manufacturers are trying very hard to please you, so you will go pay money to them, so they can make a living. Get it?

------------------
Greg Mueller
Amateur Astronomer, Machinist, Filmnut

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Tyler Skinner
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 115
From: Pa
Registered: Nov 1999


 - posted 07-03-2000 03:23 PM      Profile for Tyler Skinner   Email Tyler Skinner   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Whatever happened to directors making movies? seems like everything that makes its way to the mass market is manufactured by the studios. It seems like Kubrick was the last great director to actually make a movie the way he wanted to and have it released the way he wanted it. Everything today is based around the studios green light not realising that audiences WILL go see good movies that aren't formulated by a studio processing team. Just look at the success of Being John Malkovich. Perhaps its the studios fault that they are starting to die because all they have put into theaters are mainstream titles. If they have released more of the sub-culture, more diverse selection of films into theaters then the audiences won't be droned into seeing the same thing every time they go to the theater. Maybe this is why the art house in my town sells out every show friday and saturday night just because they show more diverse movies that are commonly blown off as "artsy" or "independant" films. The studios are companies but if they keep pumping out the same homogonized product year after year, sure the people will stop going. I don't see why there aren't more directors like Kubrick, and Scorsese, or Oliver Stone that make films they want to and aside from that, they will be financially successful to the studios.

say what you will about it being a business, its still an artform.

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Harry Robinson
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 155
From: Franklin Tennessee
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 07-03-2000 03:24 PM      Profile for Harry Robinson   Email Harry Robinson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You know, besides the graininess of the image which we've discussed elswhere on Film-Tech, the quality of this film comes into question on several levels. I agree with what most of you have said about the inaccuracies in the portrayal of early colonial society. Also there were several obvious and extremely creaky plot devises.
As to the excuse that Hollywood puts out movies to please the public:
How about the David Lean epics? Most people will put Lawrence in the top five films. I see no reason to lower the bar because someone wants to pander to public taste. A great film is a great film. And a run-of-the-mill Mel Gibson vehicle is just a run-of-the-mill Mel Gibson vehicle

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Greg Mueller
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1687
From: Port Gamble, WA
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 07-03-2000 05:32 PM      Profile for Greg Mueller   Author's Homepage   Email Greg Mueller   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
" I don't see why there aren't more directors like Kubrick, and Scorsese, or Oliver Stone that make films they want to and aside from that, they will be financially successful to the studios. say what you will about it being a business, its still an artform."


There are, but they don't have the bucks to make the movies they want. Reason? First you have to make a product that sells, so you can have money to make the product you want.
We'd all like to be rich and retire and dable in whatever turns us on. But first you got to make the bucks. Then you get to play

Also, studios have stockholders they have invested their dough so they can make money and retire and dabble in whatever they want. The studios have to keep the stockholders (investers) happy by making profits for them.
It all revolves around money. First you get it then you get to spend it. As far as filling revival houses, most of the time revival houses die out, unless they're in a college type town where they can sell to a market that goes to alternative type film places for whatever reasons they have (sometimes I think they go because they think they're suppose to, to be cool).
Anyway the bottom line is always cash. You can live without it, but it's a lot more fun with it.

------------------
Greg Mueller
Amateur Astronomer, Machinist, Filmnut

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Harry Robinson
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 155
From: Franklin Tennessee
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 07-04-2000 09:12 AM      Profile for Harry Robinson   Email Harry Robinson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I suppose you're right Greg. I guess I just enjoy wallowing in my idealism. Plus there is the tiny little detail that I don't depend on theatre attendance to provide my livelihood.

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Aaron Mehocic
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 804
From: New Castle, PA, USA
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 07-04-2000 11:47 PM      Profile for Aaron Mehocic   Email Aaron Mehocic   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Gentlemen:

I don't want to use this forum in an unitended way, but I would like to know why many of you see this movie as historically inacurate? Steve, I think your eye for detail is great, however, I feel some of your generalizations are wrong. Slavery for example. I'm not an apologist for the institution of slavery, but there were two different eras of slavery in North America. those eras being the Colonial years, and the second being the American-Nation type that we mostly see in movies and history books. Colonial slaves communities were smaller than those that would develop in places like Alabama and Mississippi, and yes (contrary to popular post-Civil War belief), some planters freed their slaves giving them land and equipment if they stayed close by. This is the "slavery" we see represented in the film. Since these places were their homes the former slaves willingly stayed much like you or I would want to stay where we were born. Furthermore, these men and women defended there homes against agression from thieves, troublemakers, and in frontier regions, the natives, and therefore DID NOT "only exist in the film so the British can blow them away". Lastly, for those scenes at Gullah, these communities both faced a common enemy: the British. I think Ben Franklin summed this up perfectly when he said, "We must all hang together, or surely we'll hang seperately."

As politically correct Americans we don't want to admit that the same things we tried to prevent in places like Bosnia and Kosovo, were the actions that helped us win our independence from the British. The Revolution was more violent than you could possibly imagine. Read some the primary sources at your local library or even here on-line. Its brutal stuff! Hell, I think it would even make some at Amnesty Internation shutter. The character Tavington in "The Patriot" is actually based on a real British Cavalry officer named Banastre Tarelton (or as we called him on this side of the pond: "Bastard" Tarelton). What you see in the film is esentially what happend. This man was a butcher. He caused so many problems in Virginia in 1780-81, that the state capital was moved from Williamsburg to Richmond and Governor Thomas Jefferson had to resign for fear of his life if he was captured. Mel Gibson's character Benjamin Martin is also based on a real colonial fighter named Francis Marion, and yes, Marion's tactics were hit-and-run as shown on screen.

To say this film was entirely historically inacurate is FALSE. Things were portrayed a little differently in some scenes than what may have actually happend, but for the most part this is fairly factual stuff. Were there holes in the plot? Of course, but from the stand point of history I liked what I saw and I'm sticking to it.

Aaron


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Greg Mueller
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1687
From: Port Gamble, WA
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 07-05-2000 08:15 AM      Profile for Greg Mueller   Author's Homepage   Email Greg Mueller   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"I suppose you're right Greg. I guess I just enjoy wallowing in my idealism. Plus there is the tiny little detail that I don't depend on theatre attendance to provide my livelihood."

Then you have achieved financial independence in this area and you can indulge yourself as you wish. If you have an endless supply of cash and don't have to payback any backers, then you can do pretty much as you wish whether its making films to suit your fancy or whatever. Most people are not so fortunate.
I have often compained (to whomever will listen) that I believe there is an incredible amount of talent and intelligence out there, that we will never hear from because they don't have the avenues (money) to make their presence known. I bet there is someone walking around right now with the cure for cancer or aids locked in their brain, and we'll never know because they will never be able to develop their talents because they have to dig ditches to make ends meet. Capitalism is definately a double edged sword, but still the best system around.

------------------
Greg Mueller
Amateur Astronomer, Machinist, Filmnut

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