|By Mira Harber
The presidential election results and the possible outcome is fascinating.
How does democracy work? Who decides how the country is going to be run?
What rules, what principles, what values? What better time to watch
the new-video release of The Patriot than now?
You know you're in for a 'beautiful' historical drama as soon as the first
images cross the screen - golden, sunlit vistas, swelling music, beautiful
children and servants; there is nobody average looking in this war.
The anti-hero of this movie is Benjamin Marten, played by Mel Gibson.
He is a widower with seven children who at first discusses the futility
of war and says, "I'm a parent. I haven't got the luxury of principles,"
when he declines to enter the war for independence from Britain. When one
son is callously murdered by the English and the other son is taken off
to be hanged, Benjamin is finally spurred into joining the war. Mel plays
his part to the hilt and turns in a commanding performance.
The only problem is "Haven't
I seen this movie before?" (It's pretty much Braveheart Does America.
The similarities are many, right down to the murdered wife and her necklace/scarf
being the only reminders of a marriage cut short, etc., etc.). This is
really an action movie pretending to be an historical drama. The battle
scenes are rousing; the slow motion; hand-to-hand, man-to-man fighting;
horses rearing, bayonets piercing and muskets firing; smoke, blood and
guts. This movie gives us a good idea of what the combat was really like
and is much more affecting than the usual video-game deaths we see in most
One obvious point that struck me is in this story of the founding days
of America was that none of the principal actors are American. Mel/Benjamin
and his son are both Australian, the over-the-top evil colonel is British
of course, even Mel's love interest is played by another English actor,
affecting an American accent (Joely Richardson).
The young, charming (in a goofy way) son is played by another Australian
heartthrob, Heath Ledger (10 Things I Hate About You) and he seems
a natural successor to Mel/Benjamin. He has an easy, cheeky charm that
is hard to resist and I can certainly see a bright cinematic future for
Despite the fact that The Patriot was a cliché-ridden,
shlocky story, replete with caricatures at every turn and accompanied by
amazingly bad sentimental, swelling, soaring music … I liked it! I couldn't
help but feel a certain satisfaction when the hero and villain meet for
a winner takes all ending, when I cheered when the troops roared as they
charged and good (us) triumphs in the end.
Jason Isaacs merits particular mention as the villainous Colonel Tavington.
He is one of those 'bad to the bone' men that you just love to hate. He
chewed up the scenery every chance he got, and was an excellent counterpart
to 'for my country' Mel. If you want a simple, good story with lots of
action, this is the movie for you.