First of all I have to return to David’s comment in class – Yes! Every time I watch this movie I cry when Susan finally talks and runs after Mel saying “Papa! Don’t go, I’ll say anything…” Even thinking about it I get a lump in my throat. Very moving scene, and even if you hate the movie you have to admit they got that scene dead on, beautiful heart wrenching family struggle.
In regards to it’s historical accuracy. I like that in this film there are characters based on historical figures, but not named for them. Cornwalis being the one major exception. This method of telling the history, but also fictionalizing characters to avoid the conflict associated with direct representation is a good call. I agree with the Mel Gibson quote explaining how boring the straight up history would be. The villains are worse, the Patriots are purer, and the story becomes that much more interesting and compelling because of this. The issue of slavery is by far the worst thing that was casually overlooked. Let’s just think about this – South Carolina – slave plantations everywhere… and yet we only encounter one slave who is abused at all in the entire movie – and he is accepted readily and even encouraged to “make his mark” to join the colonial militia. Hmmm… And Mel’s picture perfect country home where he and his free black friends work together to plow and harvest… yeah right. The beach-side maroon community really is a joke. First, the location is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. Second, it’s a little paradise get away that openly welcomes white escapees – the very people that in reality the slaves/blacks were running away from in the first place. It’s laughable.
I can see why the British would be outraged by this movie. It does not portray a single good quality of the Brits, and while it tries to congratulate Cornwalis in some ways by claiming he is a military mastermind, it paints a different picture overall. This British hero is a bumbling lush who is fooled countless times by the continental militia. But, as I said earlier, it makes for a better film. Clear cut good verses evil sells. From an American perspective, we want to see the evil Brits fall to the witty and skillful Americans.
Yet again, the entertainment factor is more important than historical accuracy. This film was highly entertaining, and made a good quality effort to include some historical relevance as well.