Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Patriot: Too Harsh on the British?

The Patriot, starring Mel Gibson, is one of the only movies made concerning the American Revolution. Of the few that have been made, The Patriot certainly stands as one of the best. However, one of the criticisms made against The Patriot is that it paints the British in an unfair light. (That kind of puts it mildly, in fact).

The villain of The Patriot is British Colonel Tavington, a fictional character based on the infamous Banastre Tarleton. Tavington is played by Jason Isaacs. Tarleton was indeed ruthless, and was known for a few battlefield atrocities. But did he burn women and children in locked church buildings? That's taking "ruthless" a wee-bit far.

What do YOU think? Was The Patriot unfair to the British?


Brad Hart said...

"The Patriot" was way too harsh on the British. Tarlton may have been a violent commander, but he was certainly no more violent than many of the colonists in the South. In fact, Gary Nash mentions how many Southern patriots were employing extremely brutal tactics that ended in the mass killing of slaves, loyalists and the British. This by no means serves as an excuse for what many British soldiers did. Stories of rape, murder, etc apply to them as well. I wish that Hollywood would come out with a truly great movie on the American Revolution. It's too good of a story to ignore.

Brian Tubbs said...

The Patriot filmmakers claim they showed atrocities on both sides - and they did. But, clearly, the WORST of the atrocities were committed by the British (in the film, that is).

Here, here on that last point.

Steve said...

So, I have to be honest...I HATED this movie. I thought it was horrible history and not even entertaining. Sorry if you guys are fans...I just can't stand it.

Mike said...

I think one reason that Hollywood hasn't made a movie on the American Revolution has to do with casting? Who would play Washington? Franklin? etc? I'll take a stab at it.

Washington: Russell Crow
Franklin: Anthony Hopkins
Adams: ???
Jefferson: ???
Madison: Toby McGwire
Salley Hemmings: Beyonce!!! =)

Brian Tubbs said...

Steve, The Patriot is not great history. I agree with you on that. I did find it entertaining for its setting, uniforms, cinematography, battle scenes, etc. Not for the plot, though. I'd give it a C+. Yet, I watch it often, because it's just about the ONLY movie on the American Revolution. I don't count Al Pacino's Revolution, which was awful!

Brian Tubbs said...

Mike, Anthony Hopkins as Franklin would be an inspired choice. Can't agree with Russell Crowe as GW.

Can we not find an AMERICAN to play the father of our country?

We need a fortyish, actor, in good physical shape that looks good in a uniform and on horseback. Oh, and who is at least 6 foot, 4 inches - maybe taller. (GW towered over his contemporaries. Since people are generally taller today, you'd need an actor that was at least as tall as GW and maybe taller).

John Maass said...

First, the correct spelling is Banastre Tarleton. I agree with Brad Hart--Tarleton was only somewhat more brutal than his southern enemies, and one reason he is recalled today (and has been since 1780) as being "brutal" is that he was effective and destroyed quite a bit of militarily important property.

As to the quality of the film THE PATRIOT, I have yet to find another fellow historian of the Revolutionary War in the American South who commends it. It is wrong in so many ways, both little and big, that it cannot be regarded as anything but comical.

I agree Pacino's movie was BAAAAD.

And by the way, GW was approx. 6' 2" tall, according to Mt. Vernon.

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Gary J. Mallast said...

It’s always dangerous to get your history from Hollywood.

One of my favorite flicks when I was a kid was Walt Disney’s “Johnny Tremain.” But it is riddled with inaccuracies. Too bad. Someone went around getting depositions from participants in the events of 1775-76 in the Boston area around 1800 providing a fascinating and stirring collection of first hand accounts which would provide the foundation for a really exciting movie. One of the few things Disney got right is that the Boston Tea Party was carried out in a very orderly manner. On the other hand “The Committee” met very publicly in a tavern, The Green Dragon, rather than in a secret room in the attic of a print shop as portrayed in the movie. Indeed one of the original “Sons of Liberty” expressed his amazement that Governor Hutchison let them get away with the things they said and planned at The Green Dragon. Paul Revere’s own account of his midnight ride borders on funny as about three or four miles from Lexington, he and William Dawes were stopped by a patrol commanded by what had to have been about the dimmest lieutenant in the history of the British Army. Thirty years later his actions clearly had Revere still scratching his head.

Kalender 2013 said...

I agree Pacino's movie was BAAAAD.

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