The Patriot is a 2000 epic war film directed by Roland Emmerich, written by Robert Rodat, and starring Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger. It was produced by the Mutual Film Company and Centropolis Entertainment and was distributed by Columbia Pictures. The film mainly takes place in South Carolina (and was entirely filmed there) and depicts the story of a war hero swept into the American Revolutionary War when his family is threatened. The protagonist, Benjamin Martin, is loosely based on real Continental Army officer Francis Marion. The Patriot was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Sound, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Music Score.
At the beginning of the American Revolution, Benjamin Martin (Gibson) is a South Carolina veteran of the French and Indian War and a widower raising his seven children on his farm. Gabriel (Ledger), the eldest, is anxious to join the American forces fighting the British in the Revolutionary War. Knowing war from personal experience, Ben tries to discourage his son’s ambitions, but his son enlists anyway.
Gabriel returns home two years later, stumbling wounded into the family home and carrying military dispatches. The next day, a military skirmish have the Martins caring for the wounded from both sides. British soldiers – the ruthless Green Dragoons cavalry – arrive and kill the Colonial wounded, burn down the Martin house and arrest Gabriel as a spy, intending to hang him. Ben’s next eldest son Thomas (Smith) is shot and killed by the leader of the Green Dragoons, Colonel William Tavington (Isaacs).
Making use of his knowledge of fighting in the wilds, Ben and his two younger sons, Nathan (Morgan) and Samuel (Chafin) set forth to ambush the British column in the woods. They manage to kill most of the soldiers in an ambush and free Gabriel. The boys are horrified at their first glimpse of their father’s ferocity. Gabriel rejoins the cause against his father’s will again, stating it is his duty as a soldier. Ben decides to join as well, leaving the rest of the children in the care of their aunt Charlotte (Joely Richardson), Ben’s sister-in-law.
Continental Army Colonel Harry Burwell (Cooper), having fought alongside Ben in the French and Indian War, asks him to organize a militia designed to keep British General Cornwallis (Wilkinson) in the south until the French navy arrives to assist. French officer Jean Villeneuve (Karyo), is present to help train the militia.
Ben’s South Carolina militia is called uses guerrilla warfare, attacking the British supply lines. To combat the militia, Cornwallis has Tavington track Ben’s family to their refuge with Charlotte and burns down her plantation. However, the family escapes, and are led to a safe haven by Gabriel. Gabriel also marries his childhood friend Anne (Brenner). Soon after, Anne and her family, along with all the townspeople, are ordered burned alive whilst locked in the church by Tavington.
A grief-stricken Gabriel rides out with others to avenge their loss. During the ensuing fight, Tavington kills Gabriel and escapes. Ben is devastated and his zeal for combat extinguished, but soon returns to the Continentals to avenge his sons, and manages to kill Tavington. The tide of battle quckly turns and Cornwallis is forced to retreat and eventually surrenders.
Martin and his family return to their home to find the militia helping to rebuild it. Occam (Jones) tells Ben, “Gabriel said that if we won the war, we could build a whole new world. Just figured we’d get started right here, with your home.” Benjamin smiles.
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