Hollywood's Revisionist History Page 5 - The Patriot: Mel Gibson strikes again Con't
An interesting aside to the controversies that whirled around the movie is the virtual reversal of traditional positions on Hollywood films by liberal and conservative groups over this film. Conservative and Christian groups and organizations have opposed similar Hollywood films on the grounds of the excessive violence, especially when children are involved, while liberal and free speech groups have argued in favor of such content, on the basis of the First Amendment.
Yet with The Patriot, conservative groups, while not recommending viewing for young children, approved of the movie because of its realistic yet negative portrayal of the violence of war and its effects on those involved. They also applauded the film's depiction of the personal sacrifices that Patriots made to secure freedom for following generations. The film's lack of foul language and references to God and faith through prayers and crosses were also praised.
Mel Gibson became the focus for much of the criticism, because he is a big movie star whose name brings publicity attention. Roland Emmerich is not a big name director like George Lucas or Steven Spielberg, while Robert Rodat is just the screenwriter. Braveheart had been Gibson's film and many of the criticisms about Gibson's character and historical revisions could be found in both movies.
Because The Patriot was the second recent film by Gibson that is considered by some as anti-British, criticisms that accompanied Braveheart arose again and multiplied. Maybe because one of Gibson's intervening films had been titled Conspiracy Theory (1997), some claimed that Gibson is conspiring against the British because of his American and Australian background.
Gibson's character, Benjamin Martin, in The Patriot is the source of almost all of the unpopular aspects: black employees, brings his young sons along for an ambush, kills British soldiers in cold blood after they surrender, and shows faith in God through several prayers during the film. Off screen Gibson has also irritated liberals because of his Catholic faith, vocal opposition to abortion and support of the right to bear arms, although he has said that he would not give his own children easy access to guns.
Gay rights activists joined the protests against Gibson because of Gibson's "homophobic" direction of wimpy homosexual Edward II in Braveheart. Because of his box-office status, Gibson now has enough power to order script changes. Those who protest the film believe that he should have demanded such changes to the script of The Patriot and since he did not, he advocates the film's treatment of history.
A Closer Look at The Patriot
British Colonel William Tavington is the movie's main villain, which is established moments after his first appearance, when he shoots Benjamin Martin's second oldest son in the back as the sixteen-year-old boy makes an ill-advised attempt to free his older brother. The character of Tavington is nearly a two-dimensional stock Hollywood villain, saved only by Jason Isaac's acting.
Interestingly, three deleted scenes found on the DVD release of the movie would have rounded the character of Tavington. The first scene following the Battle of Camden has Tavington being publicly chastised by General Cornwallis in front of the other officers and portrays him as an outsider. The second scene set during his extreme search for Benjamin Martin has Tavington admiring a beautiful morning. The third scene follows his fight with Gabriel Martin and has him desperate to be on the field of battle, so he can share the glory and the reward of victory, which builds on his desperation due to his lack of inheritance.
Director Roland Emmerich explains on the DVD commentary that these scenes were eliminated from the final cut in order to quickly establish Tavington as the villain. Because he is the main villain, all judgments of the film's portrayal of the British were based on his character, but closer inspection of the film contradicts some of the arguments that the film portrays all British as 'bad'.