Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Patriot

I like the Roland Emmerich film The Patriot. It's the best of a portfolio that borders on the offensively stupid. (OK, maybe some of that is disappointment. This guy should be my hero. But how do you make a worse Godzilla movie than Toho? How do you make a global warming disaster movie which features the cold as a sort-of monster? How do you make so many bad, expensive movies, like 10,000 B.C., and continue to get hired to make more at huge budgets?)

I found myself increasingly irritated by the portrayal of the British. While it was a war and atrocities abounded, I found it hard to believe that the guys who wouldn't sully themselves to, you know, take cover while shooting, would do anything like the horrific things depicted in the movie.

I remember the controversy at the time and went to look up the Wikipedia entry for the movie; Wikipedia usually carries a "historical inaccuracies" section for every historical movie and I was pretty sure I had read an article on it there (or somehwere). When I went to look, however, there was no entry for inaccuracies.

Then I noticed that there was some controversy, and flipped over to the talk page, where a battle has been raging about the British conduct during the Revolutionary War.

And from a casual reading, the atrocities win out! Some point to this book:

Partisans and Redcoats details the war in the South which was apparently a long list of atrocities (rebels included) and documents Cornwallis' bad behavior. What's interesting to me is that the author makes the point that traditional histories just sort of ignore the South completely and don't talk about Cornwallis until the events leading to his surrender are imminent.

In fact, the author (Walter Edgar) makes a point very similar to the one made in The Patriot: That English atrocities were a big factor in unifying the South against the British. (The ties between them being strong well into the Civil War.)

How about them apples?

I think that makes Mel Gibson 2, Haters 1. (Braveheart, his best historical movie, is also the least accurate.)


  1. It's the best of a portfolio that borders on the offensively stupid.

    Damning with faint praise indeed!

    It's been years since I've seen it, so I don't remember specifics, but The Patriot definitely left me with an impression of ham-handededness. With a healthy dash of heavy-handedness. I do know several people who liked it, though.

  2. Ham-handed is a good description.

    A lot of times the movies I find rewatchable are not what you'd call great, they're just highly watchable.

    Just recently, I've seen Michael, Bedazzled, The Negotiator and quite a few other less-than-classics. The Patriot falls in that category.

    They're all watchable for different reasons. Gibson is just utterly believable as the intensely devoted, slightly deranged father.

    The cast is also quite good: Chris Cooper, Tcheky Karyo, Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs (pre-saging his Lord Valdemort role), the great Tom Wilkinson, etc. Even the minor characters are strong.

    Cinematography, pacing, nice battle scenes. You'd forget, if it didn't constantly go out of its way to remind you, that it's so hack.

  3. It's seems like hack work because it tells a story in a linear fashion with a real life American Hero who fights for FREEDOM!

    It is a movie totally out of step with Hollywoods post modern ironic tone and could have been so much better if they told the rest of the story. More at my blog later.


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