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The Patriot

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The Patriot

It's summer, 1776. Rebellion is in the air. Benjamin Martin, a hero of the French and Indian Wars, is a widower who has settled down to the life of a farmer in South Carolina. Something from his war experiences haunts him, and he has renounced violence.

When the Charleston Assembly votes to join the rebellion, a friend from Benjamin's past, Col. Burwell, tries to recruit him to join the Continental Army. After all, Burwell says, everyone still remembers Benjamin's exploits at Fort Wilderness during that war. But Benjamin wants nothing to do with the looming hostilities. "I have seven children," he says. "My wife is dead. Who's to care for them if I go to war?" But his eldest son, Gabriel, has no such qualms; he defies his father's will and joins the army. You know it's only a matter of time before Benjamin, too, is drawn into the fighting--in this case, courtesy of the cruel British cavalry leader, Col. Tavington.

Positive Elements: The colonists often show true selflessness, joining to fight against near impossible odds in order to secure a better future for their families. Snitches and traitors are clearly shown to be despicable characters. Soldiers risk their lives to save wounded comrades. One of the Martin children offers to have himself executed to save the others. Benjamin is a loving father and a man of prayer. The film displays respect for Christian faith and includes a religious wedding ceremony. In a moment of introspection, Benjamin humanely asks, "Why do men feel they can justify death?" When Col. Tavington executes wounded rivals, he is called to account by Cornwallis who states, "You serve me and the manner in which you serve me reflects upon me" (a great illustration of Christians' need to reflect the character of Christ while performing service in His name). The sin of pride ultimately undoes Cornwallis. Benjamin and Gabriel share a loving father/son relationship and a dedicated professional one. Benjamin shows honor to a black slave by having him represent himself in the enlistment process. A bigot is rescued by the slave-turned-soldier he belittled, and the two develop a friendship based on mutual respect. When Gabriel spends the night at the home of his sweetheart, he is sewn into bed by the girl's mother--a Revolutionary method of preserving modesty and chastity. After witnessing his father's brutal hatcheting of a Redcoat, one of Gibson's younger sons is appalled at Benjamin's vicious lack of self-control. Benjamin carries the scars years after violent heroics that earned him unwarranted celebrity. Benjamin puts himself at risk when he visits Cornwallis to plea for the lives of innocent women and children.

Spiritual Content: There is much Christian imagery throughout the movie, and the Rev. Oliver joins the militia saying, "I'm a shepherd, and someone needs to fend off the wolves." A church is burned down, and amid the smoke and rubble the camera focuses on the cross still standing high above the damage. Frequent quick prayers are said before battle.

Benjamin truly seems vexed by his past. "I have long feared that my sins will come to visit me and that the costs will be more than I can bear," he says at the beginning of the movie, as he's seen packing away his instruments of war. Later in the movie, he says, "Not a day goes by that I don't ask God's forgiveness for what I've done." On a mystical note, two of the younger Martin children point to the North Star and comment that it is their dead



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