Posted by Dr. Uncle Mark on June 30, 2000 at 06:30:59:
Well, I suppose it was bound to happen. Another try at an 18th century movie. My children, who also reenact with me, said, "It's no 'Last of the Mohicans', that's for sure!"
There were many, many things wrong with this movie. My 17 year old daughter, who knows 18th century woomen's clothing, was appalled when Aunt Charlotte appeared in her underwear in public, let alone having her hair free and flowing all the time. My son, a cinematographer, thought the story could have been told in 15 minutes and it was a "rollercoaster", never building slowly to a true climax. And, myself!! Where do I begin?
As a patriot and a member of SAR, the movie appealed to my sense of American pride. ...but at the sake of depicting the British as bloodthirsty animals. Oh sure, Tarleton (Tavington) could be cruel, but burning a church down filled with colonists??? This scene could start an international incident with my British brethern (remember, after doing Continental army for 10 years, I now do British Highlanders). Scenes like this and the shooting of Martin's young son (by "Tavington" at the beginning) will only give an untrue picture of the British soldier to the public, for they will believe this film to be based on fact. Nothing could be further from the truth. LOTM was much closer to fact...even Braveheart, which really twisted the truth at times, was more "on" than The Patriot!!
Furthermore, the last battle was meant to depict the Battle of Cowpens (at least I belive it was...the strategy and players were basically the same). The film gave credit to the battle's strategy to this Benjamin Martin, while in truth, the strategy was planned by Daniel Morgan. This is gross injustice, to credit a battle's win to a fictional character instead of to a true hero of the Revolution (Morgan).
I could go on and on and get very specific (i.e. militia do not charge in battle when they have no bayonets; uniforms and clothing were not depicted correctly...why does Mel have his hose garters on the outside of his breeches above his knees????; I question the architecture...homes looked like Civil War plantation houses???); many scenes were straight from Braveheart and Mel's acting, his looks and moves, were the same as William Wallace; the music score had no theme to grasp onto like in LOTM or Braveheart; 18th century bayonet charges were a brisk walk across the field, dressing to the center colors, not a free for all run!!,,,, but I will give two positives....
First, it did send patriotic chills up my spine. I am still an American (although I reenact British Highlander), and my ancestors (at least 3 direct..Michael Hagenbuch, Jacob Sechler, Peter Martin) fought for Freedom during the Revolution...so, I still believe in the "cause" and "staying the course".
Second, some of the battle scenes looked very correct. When the armies march in and stood toe to toe to fight it out.....that's the way battles usually began. The preferred weapon was the smoothbore musket which a good soldier could load and fire 4 times a minute. However, it was not too accurate beyond 100 yards, so you got up close and personal and the "day was won" by the army which could put as much lead in the air as quickly as possible AND outmaneuver the other side to take the field, much like in chess and checkers.
OK, enough said! Oh, don't believe that I believe myself to be an expert. I've had a lot of experience both in reenacting (on the field in the heat of battle) and doing the research (both in books and hands-on experience) on weapons and clothing of the 18th century. But, no one is truly an expert. These are all my opinions from what I have researched and experienced.
Go watch the movie and enjoy the color and the patriotism. But, don't succomb to believing it was good vs. evil. It's never that simple!!
Dr. Uncle Mark
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