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The Patriot

This is an epic tale of the struggles of war placed upon a new nation.

It is set in South Carolina during the Revolution when war would be in our own back yard. The story revolves around a character in inner turmoil by the name of Benjamin Martin, played wonderfully by Mel Gibson, and the family that he is raising due to the death of his wife. Benjamin Martin, the Patriot, has fought previously in the French and Indian Conflict, and knows well the horrors of war. He is pitted against a revolutionary spirit that has the whole of early American society caught up in the fervor and excitement that comes from war. Because of his knowledge of the realities of war and his consequential reluctant demeanor, he is branded a coward even by his own son. This passion overcomes his family, drawing his sons who are on the verge of manhood, into the foray.

Because of the encompassing war, the family is pulled into the battle and even aids those who have been injured, preferring to remain neutral. Through the cruel treatment of the English Colonel Tavington, alias "The Butcher", played by the convincing Jason Isaacs, that culminates in the murder of one of his sons, Benjamin Martin's hand is forced and he jumps full-square into the hostility on the side of the Revolutionary Americans during a rescue of his elder son, Gabriel, played by Heath Ledger.

Benjamin Martin realizes that the only way to protect his family is to fight with the Patriots for the young nation's freedom. Martin's remaining children are taken for safekeeping by his kind and gentle sister-in-law Charlotte Selton, played by Joely Richardson.

As the war wears on, it becomes evident that the rag-tag Revolutionary forces are no match for the well trained, well afforded Red Coats.
General Cornwallis, portrayed by Tom Wilkinson, continues his brilliant efforts in warfare, unhindered and unmatched by any American force that can be mustered. The excellent digital effects imagery by Centropolis Effects dramatized the bitter defeat that the Continentals experienced at the Battle of Camden.

Chris Cooper personifies the soldier/statesman Colonel Harry Burwell who enlists Benjamin Martin as a Colonel in his Continental Army. A militia is being formed, and Lisa Brenner superbly plays the strong-willed Anne Howard who helps convince her neighbors to join the militia. Reverend Oliver, portrayed by Rene Auberjonois, ultimately joins the Patriot side, determined to protect his flock and help form a new nation under God.

Benjamin Martin befriends the Frenchman Major Villeneuve, played by Tcheky Karyo, who, like Martin, has lost family to war. Together, they help recruit militia and assist in the training of the militia. Colonel Martin's guerrilla war tactics, when he finally takes on the leadership of a small band of militia, confound the British, constantly enabling the worn Revolutionary army which has been trodden down for so long, to keep morale at an even keel.

The spectacular photography directed by Caleb Deschanel and music by John Williams nourishes and alleviates scenes at Middleton Plantation, Fort Wilderness, and Charlotte's plantation.

As confidence grows among the people, Colonel Tavington is given the unenviable task of bringing Colonel Martin, "The Ghost", under reign. Tavington does this by brutally attacking the militia member's families. As the story unfolds, The Ghost and The Butcher have constant altercations in round about ways that finally culminates in the death of Gabriel, Colonel Martin's Patriot son, at the very hands of the evil Colonel Tavington. His murderous ways come very close to breaking the will of the entire militia force, but he does not take into account the revenge of a man who has nothing left to lose.

With the death of Gabriel, Colonel Martin's resolve becomes impenetrable. The final battle, the Battle of Cowpens, pits The Ghost and The Butcher against one and another in a fight to the death. The victor is Colonel Martin, in one fell swoop, and the Continental army, through his brave actions and vigor, have "stayed the course" for final victory.

The Revolutionists have consummated their quest for freedom and liberty, and unite together in reconstructing a new home for Benjamin Martin and his family, in their Independent nation.


P.S.: The Patriot  is everything a GREAT movie is intended to be. This electrifying story keeps you on the edge of your seat and is chock full of wonderful humor! You will realize the entire gamut of your emotions while viewing this excellent film.

I had the true honor and absolute pleasure of being an extra in this film. It all started one day when I saw an advertisement in our local Berkeley Independent newspaper asking for extras. I happened to be free that day and thought "Revolutionary War?.....Birth of our Nation?.... they might need some photogenic horses for this kind of film" So I said, "why not" and gathered up some photos of our horses and went down to the casting call. I filled out their required form, turned in the pictures with that, then soon a group of us were herded into an auditorium where we were given some info on the movie being filmed here and an opportunity to ask some questions. I asked them if they had a need for any horses and was told they already had their horses for the movie. I assumed I had learned of the movie too late, and thought "well, I tried" and was happy with that. Not too happy, but it was interesting just being at a casting call.

Several weeks went by, then out of the blue, I received a call asking if I would go to Rock Hill for a costume fitting to be a townsperson in The Patriot movie. Interesting turn of events, for sure! I was told there was a bus leaving the next day, but I had prior commitments here early in the afternoon and had to be back, so I drove up there in the early morning and was fitted for costume. All the people there were most helpful and very diligent in what they were doing. I was told not to cut my hair and let my sideburns grow out. The guys at my work were giving me fits, calling me Luke Perry 29483. It was funny!

The first day of filming that I saw was the outdoor "ball" scenes at Middleton Gardens. When I arrived in the wee hours of the morning and saw all the tents, trucks, trailers and people in this normally serene setting, I thought "whoa, this is BIG!" I was amazed at how thorough and professionally done the entire day of filming went. It was that day that I learned from another extra that Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, who had done Stargate , Independence Day , and Godzilla  were doing this one!!! I was totally impressed and realized at that moment that The Patriot  was going to be a great movie too. Someone that day told me that I wouldn't be getting much sleep for a while, and they were right!

Another day of filming took place at The College of Charleston where Peter Howard was giving his speech to the townspeople, Gabriel was signing up, and Benjamin Martin was exiting the assembly hall. I was given the privilege of being next to Benjamin as he exited down the steps! That was quite interesting! I considered snatching him up by the collar saying "We will form our own nation under God, freedom is what we need, and liberty WE SHALL HAVE" but decided against it, as I was told to "look mad". Hee ;-)

The A.D.'s really stressed not to talk to the actors or actresses, and for good reason as they had their jobs to prepare for. Other days filming were in the assembly hall, where Col. Harry Burwell and Benjamin Martin were debating going to war. The set was absolutely beautiful, with the sun ;) streaming in the windows and it was fantastic participating and seeing first hand the detail and preparation in creating scenes in a movie such as this!

On a short bus ride with other extras to some street scenes being filmed, one of the other extras told me that over 3000 people had applied to be an extra in The Patriot , and we considered ourselves very fortunate. getting to ride a horse or not :-)

All the street scenes flowed very smoothly, and detail was impeccable! Someone said the best thing you'll hear all day is "That's a wrap". Well, I have to disagree. I didn't want it to end. It was tough a couple of days being on set all day, then going straight to work trying to wipe off whatever it was they put on our face, or getting off a couple of hours early to get to set on time, but it was well worth it, just seeing how the truly greats do it! What an opportunity!

written by Will Finch