The Patriot

“Some things are worth fighting for.”

It’s the year 1776 and war is on the horizon. Benjamin Martin, a widower, is a French and Indian War hero who is haunted by memories of his past. His only desire now is to live in peace with his children on his plantation in colonial South Carolina. War is inescapable, however, and Benjamin has to decide how far he is willing to go, and how hard he is prepared to fight, in the defense of his precious family.

The Commendable

The Patriot is a film with just the right amounts of action, drama, and even a little bit of humor. Despite its appropriate R rating (due to scenes of extreme and grotesque violence) this movie shows an amazing display of family devotion, loyalty, sacrificial love, and faith. Benjamin Martin is, without a doubt, the leader and the protector of his family. He adores his children and is willing to do whatever it takes to save them from terror and from any form of danger. It was a refreshing picture of a man being the head of his household.

Instead of showing the Revolutionary war in a typical way, this film focuses more on the story of one man and his family and that man’s personal war, rather than individual and grandiose battles. This film does touch, however, on the duty preformed by men to fight against a government which they felt to be tyrannical and the patriot sprit which is often associated with the Revolutionary War.

There is a sweet romance portrayed between Benjamin’s adult son and a daughter of one of Benjamin’s old acquaintances. Benjamin’s son is honorable towards the young lady and asks her father’s permission before making any advances. She is submissive, feminine, and an obedient and respectful daughter.

The Corrupt

The MPAA rated this film R for “strong war violence.”

Being a film of the Revolutionary War, The Patriot includes many battle scene which often contain graphic and bloody wounds. While most of the fighting is done with canons and guns, there are several moments of hand-to-hand combat as well. These scenes are intense and they include war related death while not trying to hide any of the realities of the horrors of battle. Men are brutally killed and gore is constantly shown. In one instance, a group of people are locked inside a church while it is being burned. Suicide is shown. Be wary, the violence in this movie is extreme.

Some characters have bad attitudes and display an un-Christlike attitude towards their fellow men; especially the main antagonist. This character is truly wicked in his heart and he is brutal and vindictive without hesitation. One militia soldier is very racist and speaks in a derogatory way to a slave who is fighting to win his freedom. Additionally, Benjamin’s children do not always obey him with the utmost respect.

Romance is mild; there are a couple kisses and one woman wears dresses that are low-cut.

Profanity consists of uses of d- and h- and some instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain.

Another thing to be wary of is Benjamin’s yearning for revenge. Even though the Bible clearly rejects a Christian seeking vengeance, in this film, it is difficult to analyze.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19 ESV)

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.(Matthew 5:44 ESV)

Benjamin was wrong for being fueled by revenge, but men have the duty to protect their families. Even though his motives were incorrect, Benjamin, for the most part, did what was right by engaging in combat to protect his home and children, and to defend the innocent.

The Art

Mel Gibson’s ability to play a reluctant war hero was satisfactory. Some scenes felt forced, but, for the most part, he was able to act with the energy and emotion that his character required. Heath Ledger was brilliant. His character, as Benjamin Martin’s oldest son, was tender, passionate, compassionate, thoughtful, emotional, and brave. Not only is the character admirable, but Ledger’s portrayal of him was incredible.

Among the film’s other highlights, its battle scenes are wonderfully executed and, with its well-developed characters and plot, The Patriot is an enthralling, exciting, and emotional ride. The cinematography was fantastic along with the directing, although I would have preferred a more discrete approach to showing the deaths in battle.

John William’s score is absolutely beautiful and, in my opinion, it’s one of Williams’ best. The music is powerful, moving, and patriotic all at the same time. Albeit, the score, in places, sounds very familiar to what Williams did for Jurassic Park, but the more colonial style differs it enough. With its beautiful melodies and majestic tracks, this well-balanced soundtrack has plenty quiet and action music mixed in as well.

In Conclusion

While The Patriot is an amazing film depicting the war and showing some beautiful pictures of family love, devotion, and honor, the violence and gore make this film so that I cannot recommend it to most families. Personally, I chose to turn away from most of the violence, but each family has their own convictions on the matter. While I do believe that The Patriot is well-worth watching for those at a high school age or older, this is not a film for young children. In my opinion, the good outweighs the bad, but you need to be prepared to experience some emotional trauma if you are planning to watch this movie.

  1. I love this score too.

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