The Patriot The Patriot
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Film Date :   June 30, 2000
Genre :   Drama War Action   
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The Patriot

The Patriotis a 2000 historical war film directed by Roland Emmerich , written by Robert Rodat , and starring Mel Gibson , Chris Cooper , and Heath Ledger . It was produced by the Mutual Film Company and Centropolis Entertainment and was distributed by Columbia Pictures . The film mainly takes place in rural York County , South Carolina and depicts the story of an American swept into the American Revolutionary War when his family is threatened. The protagonist , Benjamin Martin, is loosely based on real Continental Army officer Francis Marion , Andrew Pickens and other Revolutionary War figures.

At the beginning of the American Revolution , Benjamin Martin ( Mel Gibson ) is a South Carolina veteran of the French and Indian War and a widower raising his seven children. The year is 1776, and Martin is called to Charleston to vote in the South Carolina Assembly whether a levy should be passed in support of the Continental Army . Fearing the consequences of a war with Great Britain , Martin refuses to vote in support of the levy, which is nonetheless passed. Ashamed of his father's perceived cowardice, Martin's eldest son, Gabriel ( Heath Ledger ), enlists in the Continental Army against his father's wishes.

A few years pass and Charleston falls to the British Army . During a battle, Gabriel returns home, stumbling wounded into the family home and carrying military dispatches. The Martins care for wounded British and American soldiers after the battle. A detachment of British Dragoons arrives, led by the ruthless Colonel William Tavington ( Jason Isaacs ), who is based on the real life Sir Banastre Tarleton , who employed many of the tactics portrayed in the film, including ordering firing on surrendering troops at the Battle of Waxhaws. They arrest Gabriel as a spy and intend to execute him back at their camp. When Benjamin's next eldest son Thomas attempts to free Gabriel, he is shot and killed by Colonel Tavington. Tavington orders the Martin house burned, and the American wounded shot.

On their way back to camp, the British convoy are ambushed by Martin and two of his sons, freeing Gabriel in the process. Only one British private survives and tells Tavington his frighting sight of a single man — a ghost — slaying all twenty of his fellow soldiers before he vanished. Gabriel and Benjamin decide to rejoin the American army and fight the British, leaving the rest of the children in the care of his sister-in-law, Charlotte. Due to his battlefield experience, Benjamin is appointed a colonel and put in charge of the local militia. His goal will be to keep Lord Cornwallis ( Tom Wilkinson ) occupied in South Carolina in order to prevent him from marching north. Benjamin recruits and trains his force with the assistance of Major Jean Villeneuve ( Tchéky Karyo ), a French infantry officer, who is assigned to Martin's South Carolina militia unit.

Benjamin's militia uses guerrilla warfare , harassing British supply lines, capturing goods, and burning half the bridges and ferries leading to Charleston. These tactics earn him the disdain of Lord Cornwallis, who perceives these actions as uncivilized. He even blames Tavington for creating this "Ghost" with his brutal tactics, which prevents the General from attending a party in Charleston. Irritated at his lack of progress and insulted by Martin's clever ploy to free eighteen of the militia captured by the British regulars, Cornwallis reluctantly enlists Colonel Tavington to use whatever means necessary to capture Martin and crush his militia, knowing full well the brutal tactics he will employ. Tavington learns the identities of some of the militia members and proceeds to attack their families and burn their homes. Benjamin's family is forced to flee Charlotte's plantation, after it is burned, and settle along the coast with a group of former black servants. There, Gabriel marries his longtime love Anne ( Lisa Brenner ).

During his campaign, Tavington rides into a town known to support the militia and has the inhabitants locked in the church, but not before learning the whereabouts of Martin. He then orders the church burned, killing all inside, including Gabriel's new wife Anne. In a rage, Gabriel and a small group of militia attack Tavington's encampment. Gabriel shoots Tavington, but Tavington plays dead and then stabs Gabriel through with his sword before escaping. Martin arrives in time to have Gabriel die in his arms.

Heartbroken, Benjamin briefly wavers in his commitment to fight, but later joins the Continental Army. At the Battle of Cowpens, the Americans and British fight in a decisive battle. During the chaos, Martin finally finds and duels Tavington. They two fight fiercely and wound each other, but Tavington gains the upper hand and critically wounds Martin by slicing him across the back with his sword. Just as Tavington prepares to finish off Martin, Martin picks up a bayonet on the ground and then stabs Tavington in the gut. Martin finishes off Tavington by stabbing him through the throat with another bayonet, avenging Gabriel, Thomas and Anne. The Battle of Cowpens ends in a decisive American victory and Cornwallis is forced to retreat.

After a series of defeats, Cornwallis is besieged at Yorktown, Virginia , where he surrenders to the Americans. The film ends with Benjamin returning to his farm to find his family, neighbors and fellow militia men rebuilding his home.

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