Case Study: Film Analysis of the Patriot

Pages: 6 (2222 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: American History  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] He is obsessively loyal to the British kingdom and will take any action, particularly if it is amoral as a means to his ends. His character's nickname is "The Butcher."

Much of the film is about the war and freedom from the British, yet there are other subtle themes at work in The Patriot. One of the most obvious is that of slavery and equality of all people in America. The audience is meant to understand that Martin is a patriot because of his defiance of the British and for other reasons, too, such as his human and nearly equal treatment of the freed Africans who work his land for a wage. Audiences are meant to understand or infer that there is a morality in defying amoral laws such as slavery. Though it is far more socially and economically appropriate for Martin to own slaves and treat them severely, he defies this law and social construct, treating his workers as people, who have rights, even if limited, they have more than they would elsewhere on another plantation. Martin and the other characters do use the weaponry of the times such as guns, bayonets, and knives. Martin, though, is most skilled with a tomahawk, which is a Native American weapon. He became skilled at using this weapon in his military service during the French and Indian War. This is a subtle way to show that Martin is a white man that works well with and has some respect for the cultures of the ethnic majorities of the time, Native Americans, and Africans. He has respect for these cultures and the audience is alerted of his respect in subtle ways. The coming together of many cultures and having respect for many cultures within one country is supposed to be one of the ideas America was founded upon as well. This is another way the theme of patriotism is played out in the film and made manifest through the main character, Benjamin Martin. Martin is a patriot because despite racial tensions and war, he abides by the principles as listed in important American documents of colonial history such as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. For him, they are not words or ideas; they are a personal philosophy and a way of life that are patriotic and American.

The cinematography, production design, sound design, and editing come together to make this film quite beautiful. The film is very aesthetically pleasing and aesthetically aware. One the one hand, it has to be because it is a historical piece. One of the best ways to succeed in suspending the audience's imagination that it is more than two hundred years ago, is to make sets, costumes, and hair styles authentic to the period. On the other hand, the film is aesthetically aware in that we are meant to understand the film as epic not just with respect to the events of the film, but also we feel the space of the narrative as epic. The land is a character in this film. The land is very important. The war, in some regard, is fought over the land. There is often land or landscape in the frame and the land is beautiful. Long before the industrial revolution, cars, roads, and heavy carbon footprints, the United States of America was very, very beautiful. (there is still plenty of beauty today.) The presence of the land in the film is a constant reminder of the land all the people share as Americans. Americans of old and of the current day are very attached to their land and their property. The presence of the landscape communicates the majesty and epic quality of the whole country. It is also a constant reminder of a primary reason why the war was waged. The film as a whole is not completely factual, but there is enough content that is based in reality with historic accuracy to allow viewers to reasonably suspend their senses of reality temporarily. The Patriot is a beautiful film that is performed with emotion. This is a film with clear production value and historical value as well.


Cunningham, L.S. & Reich, J.J. (2009). Culture and Values: A Survey of the Humanities. Wadsworth Publishing. Print.

IMDB. (2012). The Patriot. Director Roland Emmerich. Starring Mel Gibson & Heath Ledger. Columbia… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Case Study:

APA Format

Film Analysis of the Patriot.  (2013, January 2).  Retrieved May 20, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Film Analysis of the Patriot."  2 January 2013.  Web.  20 May 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Film Analysis of the Patriot."  January 2, 2013.  Accessed May 20, 2019.