comments on The Patriot

  To Be or Not to Be When facing a dilemma, one has to make a choice, however wrenching it is, according his world outlook and values. Shakespeare wrote in his famous play Hamlet, "to be or not to be: that is the question". One has to make numerous choices throughout his whole life on the earth. Among those, perhaps the most difficult choice is whether to sacrifice to his motherland, or to protect his own family. The Patriot, directed by Roland Emmerich, tries to explore some solutions to those dilemmas.  In the film, Benjamin Martin, the hero of the film, is probably the first one to make decisions. Ben is a veteran of the French and Indian War. In the war, he witnesses the cruelty and bloody nature of human beings, and thus he decides to go back home and never return to battlefield. This is the first time for him to choose: to continue to fight as a soldier, or to raise his seven children on his farm.  While Ben hopes to live a peaceful life in South Carolina, his life is disturbed by war again. In 1776, the Continental Congress passed the Declaration of Independence, which inspired many patriotic young men to fight in the revolutionary war. Gabriel, the eldest son of Ben, is among those young men. He is very anxious to join the American forces fighting the British, even if his father does not permit him to. On the contrary, Ben, knowing exactly what a war means, wants to discourage his son from participating. Here comes the second time for Ben to choose: to permit his son to fight in the war, or to keep him at home. Generally speaking, no father wants his son to participate in such a dangerous and bloody war. A soldier not wounded in a war is almost impossible. In addition, he would probably lose his life when fighting. No father wants to see his son with cuts and bruises all over the body. So is Ben, a veteran with first-hand experience of the terrifying carnage in the war. He just hopes to lead a happy life with all his seven children surrounding him. Gabriel, as a young man full of vim and vigor, does not understand his father. Having known his father's heroic action in the French and Indian war, he has no idea why his father now becomes so timid. Ben, however, is not willing to tell Gabriel the bloody truth in that war, only saying "when you had a family, you would understand". Finally, Gabriel joins the Continental against his father's wishes. He returns home after two years, seriously wounded and he carries dispatches between commanders. That night, a skirmish between the British and Continental happens in front of Ben's house and he and his children give care to the wounded of both sides the next morning. Another group of British soldiers, however, approach the house and proceed to kill the Colonial, who is wounded. They find a letter from Gabriel when searching him. The Colonel. William Tavington orders to arrest him as a spy and intends to hang him. At this time, Ben faces the third time to choose: to fight against those British soldiers for his son, or to watch his son arrested helplessly. Though faced with imminent danger, Ben still chooses to be silent. When Ben is watching his son leaving with tears, Thomas, Ben's 15-year-old son rushes out to free Gabriel. He is unfortunately shot by the ruthless and cold-hearted Colonel. Tavington, even though he poses no real threat. Now Ben has no other choice but to fight back. He sets about to free his son Gabriel. With the help of his two younger sons, Nathan and Samuel. At last, they find Gabriel, who has rejoined the cause against his father's will again. Here comes the fourth time for Ben to choose: to bring Gabriel back home, or to allow him to continue to fight in the war. Ben's deep patriotism is inspired now and he decides to join the fight with his son. He brings the rest of the children to their aunt Charlotte, the sister of Ben's deceased wife. These four choices show the psychological change of Ben, initially only a father to a patriotic hero at last.  Gabriel, the eldest son of Ben, has also to make some crucial choices. As a young man with hot blood, he is very willing and anxious to fight for a free and democratic new America. In addition, he wants to become a hero like his father whom he is always proud of. His father, however, does not allow him to join the army, which makes him very upset and disappointed. Now he faces the first choice: to listen to his father, or to join the army without his father's permission. Gabriel chooses the latter one without any hesitation. He leaves his home and joins the Continental Army. Having recovered from a serious wound, he is arrested by Colonel William Tavington, as is mentioned in this paper before. After rescued by his father and younger brothers, he faces the second time to choose: to continue to fight in the war, or to return home with his father. Since he is a very courageous and patriotic young man, perhaps inherited from his father, Gabriel chooses to rejoin the army and continues to fight. He and his father lead a militia made up of farmers to fight against the British "redcoats". They are nicknamed "ghost" by the British soldiers because they come and go mysteriously. Finally the Col. Tavington finds out who they are and where their families are. He leads a group of soldiers to their home, force all the people into a church and ruthlessly burn the church. This is the third time for Gabriel to choose: to remember it by heart, or to kill the Col. Tavington at once. Unfortunately, Gabriel chooses the latter one. Having gotten the sad news, Gabriel gets overwhelmed with indignation and hatred. He immediately rushes out to look for the Col. Tavington. When Ben hurries there, he only sees his son deeply wounded, lying in his blood. Ben is extremely sad and desperate, trying to get a flicker of life out his dying son. Finally he kills the Col. Tavington by his own hands in the final war against the British army. Gabriel, as a young man, is greatly different from his middle-aged father. His three choices show what a courageous, responsible and patriotic soldier he is.  Captain. Wilkins, once a member of local people, join the British army. He is extremely loyal to His majesty and willing to sacrifice anything, saying that "all those who stand against England deserve to die a traitor's death". He should not be blamed, though, at first, because he has not done anything bad to the local people. Because of a series of failures in the battlefield against Ben's militia, William gets very angry and he begins to trace Ben's family. Finally, he finds where the local people are , then he orders Captain Wilkins to lock all of them in the church. All the people, including Gabriel's newly married wife Anne, are burned alive in the church. Colonel Tavington orders Wilkins to do it. At first, Wilkins hesitates, "this deserves no honor". Here comes the choice for him: to burn those innocent people, or to disobey his commander. Unfortunately, he remains loyal to His majesty, and burns the church. This is also a dilemma for soldiers in a war. As a soldier, one must obey his commander, which is an obligation for every soldier. However, if his commander's order is cruel and inhuman, must he obey? If he still obeys, his conscience and humanity are twisted though he might get a praise. If he disobeys, he would be punished by military discipline, though he follows his conscience. This dilemma, however, has not been solved properly so far. People still hold different opinion about it.  Reverend perhaps faces the most difficult choice in this film. As a priest, what he always doing is preaching. It is stated in the Ten Commandments that "you shall not murder". He, as a pious Christian, strictly follows God and believes in peace. He does not believe that war can justify death. However, when his homeland is ruined and his neighbours are killed by the ruthless British army, he cannot remain silent. Reverend, at this time, becomes a positive soldier to defend cruelty and injustice. He says that "a shepherd must tend his flock, and at times, fight off the wolves". For a person who is always believing in and insisting on peace and harmony, to convert his ingrained value and belief is almost impossible. Reverend, however, changes his mind and decides to participate in the war. It indicates that confronted with dilemmas about interests, one is inclined to subordinate his personal interests to those of the collective. As an old Chinese saying goes, every man has a share of responsibility for the fate of his country. If one's motherland is in danger, how can he protect his family? In this film, the director, Roland Emmerich, tells audience a truth that when one's motherland is in an extremely crucial situation, one must step forward to protect his country. Everyone can and will be a patriot, only if you are willing and ready to be.  This film is based on the real historic stories of Benjamin Martin and his sons. The scenes of the revolutionary war are vividly reproduced on the screen through the efforts of the director and his actors. Once put on the screen in 2000, the film immediately gained a lot of praise from audience. Despite the financial success, The Patriot generated an amount of criticism from critics and historians, saying that the film inaccurately depicted events in the revolutionary war. Historian David Hackett Fischer wrote in the New York Times on July 1, 2000, pointing out that although the film claimed to be a history of the American Revolution "egregious errors appear in every scene.""The problem is not merely that a director has failed an academic test of accuracy, but that the errors have weakened the film's dramatic impact by making our War of Independence appear so artificial," wrote Fischer. "He would have done better if he had listened to history more closely."[1] After all, this is a film for entertaining, not a documentary for education. Proper modifications and exaggerations can be tolerated.  All in all, The Patriot is a successful film, both financially and artistically. When audience enjoy the moving or sad plots of the film, they can also get enlightened. Although the question proposed by Shakespeare has a history of 407 years, people now cannot solve it appropriately. Dilemmas are everywhere throughout the whole life of everybody. Perhaps the choice you make is not the best, but at least is not the worst one that you would regret to make.