Patriot vs. Braveheart

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Proud and defining achievements in our military history have been celebrated and even romanticized in their importance. When we think of the Revolutionary War, we think of our founding fathers, orators and statesman with convictions and ideals, who banded together on principles to defy tyranny. We seldom think of the great sacrifice and bloodshed from common men and families that paid the price for independence. Several men and their families were captured, tortured or killed as traitors. Many lost their lives or sons' lives in fighting the war. The Patriot is a well acted and gripping revisitation of the Revolutionary War with painfully realistic, bloody battle reenactments that compromise dramatic integrity. It has captured the brutal realism of America's greatest war.

Captain Benjamin Martin, played by Mel Gibson, eloquently opposes the rhetoric and bravado of the call to arms because it is not a glorious game but hell to be avoided. He has long feared that his sins would return to visit him and that cost is more than he can bear. A widower with seven children, Martin still lives with the ghost of the atrocities he committed as a hero of the French and Indian War.

As a veteran of these frontier wars, Martin has put his weapons down and renounced fighting forever to raise his family in peace. However, times are becoming tough and the King of Britain has a firm grip on the American colonies, while they want their independence. Martin refuses to fight after the massacres he has seen in the past. However, he is unable to stop his son Gabriel, played by Heath Ledger, from enlisting in the army. As he predicted, this war is waged close to home and among the townspeople. Soon Martin and his family can see the battle from their home. While helping the wounded soldiers, one of which is his son, he suddenly becomes the target of the British Army. Treated as a traitor, Martin has to watch as one of his sons is killed by a brutal British Officer, played by Jason Isaacs.

When the British come to his South Carolina home and threaten what he holds most dear, Martin takes up arms alongside his patriotic son, Gabriel. He puts aside his principles and the criticisms by fellow townspeople and forms and leads a brave militia into the battle against a relentless and overwhelming English army. He soon discovers that joining the Patriots is the only way to avenge his son's death and protect his family. It is also the only way to bring freedom to his country. The militia, made up of dedicated and loyal men, began taking out the British with guerilla tactics. He soon becomes the mythical figure the British Army is searching for. In the end, his values and beliefs triumph over everything and he completes what he set out to do. He avenged his sons' death and helped the American Nation receive freedom.

Mel Gibson brings a lot of sensitivity to his part of Benjamin Martin and makes a perfect lead for the film. Perhaps this strong emotion is a connection between the film and his personal life, given the fact that he has seven children of his own. The actor has an undeniable aura of heroism and tangible humanity that is so important to achieve the dramatic impact this film tries to portray. More than once our hearts break as we watch this father struggle in his fight to keep his family alive and out of harms way. We feel this pain as his friends and comrades die around him, and we empathize with his fury toward the British. Despite the tragedy and drama, Gibson also manages to bring in some comic moments to relieve the tension, but not once do these moments feel inappropriate or out of place.

Along with the outstanding performance by Mel Gibson comes the supporting roles, which were brilliantly played. Heath Ledger, who plays Gabriel Martin, conveys youthful grace and exuberance. As a rising star, his performance in this film as a rebelling and heroic teen is sure to win over the hearts of many. Jason Isaacs...
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