New York trapper Tom Dobb becomes an unwilling participant in the American Revolution after his son Ned is drafted into the British Army by the villainous Sergeant Major Peasy. Tom attempts to find his son, and eventually becomes convinced that he must take a stand and fight for the freedom of the Colonies, alongside the aristocratic rebel Daisy McConnahay. As Tom undergoes his change of heart, the events of the war unfold in large-scale grandeur. William Agee, Internet Movie Database
CAST / CREW
Al Pacino .... Tom Dobb Donald Sutherland .... Sgt. Maj. Peasy Nastassja Kinski .... Daisy McConnahay Joan Plowright .... Mrs. McConnahay Dave King .... Mr. McConnahay Steven Berkoff .... Sgt. Jones John Wells .... Corty Annie Lennox .... Liberty Woman Dexter Fletcher .... Ned Dobb Sid Owen .... Young Ned Richard O'Brien .... Lord Hampton Paul Brooke .... Lord Darling Eric Milota .... Merle Felicity Dean .... Betsy Jo Anna Lee .... Amy (more)
You are Visitor No:
Don't Start the Revolution Without Me - By Hugh Hudson
In the yellow brazier light of a late night shoot, British director Hugh Hudson, cloaked against the biting cold, watches with satisfaction as Al Pacino and Nastassja Kinski, playing two lovers on opposite sides of the American Revolution, enact a moving scene. "I've waited too long and worked too hard for this to let small minds take it away," Hudson says, speaking of his film, Revolution, which has just been released after its own rather warlike production period. The cause of the big battle: big money and big stars.
Despite the 48-year-old director's phenomenal success with the 1981 Academy| Award winner Chariots of Fire and the very popular Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Goldcrest, the British film studio that underwrote half of the film, had hoped that Hudson would bypass the big-star system and seek actors at central casting. "Their way would have cost $5 million less," remarks Hudson." But I wanted to cast it with big stars. Otherwise people would think it was a history lesson, and they won't go to a history lesson... the film needed the extraordinary element of Pacino and Kinski in that sense. There's something hot about these two peopleand Donald Sutherlandon the screen." Sutherland, surprisingly, plays a tough British army sergeant; and in another imaginative stroke of casting, Annie Lennox of the rock group The Eurythmics makes her film debut as a Liberty Girl a prototype Red Cross helper.
As it turned out, Hudson "brought in" Revolution late and over budget and caused a number of heads to roll at Goldcrest, coproducers of the film along with Warner Brothers. Reasons Hudson, "The problem with them is that they think small." Hudson's thinking big included casting Al Pacinoone of the highest-paid actors in the worldas Tom Dobbs, a colonist from New York who is co-opted into the rag-tag revolutionary army soon after meeting the beautiful rebellious daughter of a pro-British New York merchantplayed by Kinski.
Indeed the director insisted on having an actress of Kinski's celebrity caliber and exceptional good looks. "There's something about her face that captures the rebel spirit of the young. No, she wasn't difficult; she asked questions she had every right to ask. And in the end, she was willing to try everything."
Pacinono newcomer to the role of a rebel bucking the system; consider his firebrand portrayals of Serpico, and more recently Scarfacewas, in Hudson's eyes, worth every penny of his enormous salary (rumored to be $2. 5 million). Explains Hudson, "Al matched up to my concept of the film, and he's added to it in the most extraordinary ways. As a director it's always important to follow your own instincts. But I listened to him He's intense, he's single-minded. That's what I wanted."
Indeed, to see the two men at work on the set you could well believe it. Scenes were intricately worked out, yet ultimately appear emotionally fluid. No line of Robert Dillon's script was sacred.
Hudson recalls one telling scene in which Pacino and some unknown British actors playing soldiers are being recruited into the makeshift army. "Al just made himself fade into the crowd at that point. He was the quintessential Everyman." - J. G.
American Revolution Goes Epic, June 27, 2000, By DAVID GERMAIN, AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) - "Going muzzle to muzzle with the redcoats in an open field. It's madness," groans Mel Gibson's character in "The Patriot."
Maybe that explains why Hollywood has been gun-shy about the American Revolution, depicted in only a handful of films before "The Patriot," which opens Wednesday.
It's madness, perhaps, to expect movie audiences reared on action to turn out for the archaic, bizarrely passive spectacle of 18th century "gentlemanly warfare": opposing forces marching together in slow columns, then plugging one another like tin ducks in a shooting gallery.
And for Hollywood, there is the memory of Al Pacino's "Revolution," a huge critical and commercial flop in 1985.
"I hadn't recalled seeing a Revolutionary War film that worked," Gibson said in an interview. "I wasn't aware that there was some kind of curse about it until (producer) Dean Devlin informed me about it, after I had signed on."
Twentieth-century wars, particularly World War II and Vietnam, have dominated Hollywood's battlefield sorties, from "Sands of Iwo Jima" and "The Deer Hunter" to "Platoon" and "Saving Private Ryan." Those modern wars are closer to moviegoers' hearts, and provided the sort of dramatic action - whether on the beaches of Normandy or in the jungles of Southeast Asia - that today's audiences can relate to.
The Civil War also has been popular with Hollywood since the earliest days of film, which saw D.W. Griffith's silent epic "The Birth of a Nation." Buster Keaton set his comedy classic "The General" in the Civil War, and dozens of films followed, from "Gone With the Wind" and "Shenandoah" to "Glory" and "Gettysburg."
But the American Revolution? Nick Nolte starred in the 1995 "Jefferson in Paris," though it focused on Thomas Jefferson's time as ambassador to France, after the war. (And bombed at the box office anyhow.)
There were a few silent films based on such figures as George Washington, Betsy Ross and Paul Revere, and Griffith worked his way back from the Civil War to the Revolution with "America" in 1924.
Aside from Disney's "Johnny Tremain," a family flick in the 1950s, and the musical "1776," there's not much else. Pacino's "Revolution" was such a bomb that critic Leonard Maltin wrote in his Movie and Video Guide that "it'll be 2776 before we get another" Revolutionary War film.
But it took only 15 years for Hollywood to go once more unto the breach.
"The Patriot" stars Gibson as Benjamin Martin, a widower and hero of the French and Indian War who resists the call to arms in the Revolution until the British inflame his lethal-weapon instincts.
It may be that Hollywood has shied away from the Revolutionary War out of fear that audiences would view it as a history lesson, said Mark Gordon, one of "The Patriot's" producers.
"The American Revolution hasn't been a sexy arena to tell a story in," Gordon said. "For people now, it seems a less emotional conflict than the Civil War, which was very clear, North and South, slavery vs. anti-slavery, brother against brother. And the Second World War, you had the most fabulous antagonists in history, Adolf Hitler and the Germans."
The Revolution simply feels remote - a war fought by a still-unformed nation, in a time before photography.
"We've been very successful in our country in humanizing other wars," said Caroline Keinath, deputy superintendent of Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, Mass., which is dedicated to the legacy of the John Adams family and the Revolutionary War.
"People who visit Manassas or other Civil War battlefields ache with pain at recreations of those battles. They haven't really done that to this point with the Revolution," she said.
Gibson compared the Civil War to "neighbors sort of slugging it out ... It's like watching Tyson and Holyfield go at it.
"But with the Revolutionary War, it's a totally different thing. It's something (American audiences) never experienced, because they live in a free country. They were never part of a colony of another country that was oppressive."
There's also that outdated style of fighting. "The Patriot" depicts such prissy though deadly warfare early on, but once Martin enters the fray, he assembles a motley band of guerrilla fighters who chip away at the British troops and morale with ferocious ambushes.
Anyone expecting a pure history lesson can check their textbooks at the door. Directed by Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day," "Godzilla") and written by Robert Rodat ("Saving Private Ryan"), "The Patriot" is heavy on action.
Though the movie runs a hefty two hours, 40 minutes, Gibson's star power and its bloody, frenzied battles make for a likely box-office hit.
George Clooney, whose "The Perfect Storm" opens two days after "The Patriot," already has conceded the weekend's box-office crown to Gibson's flick.
"The Patriot" also has two romantic subplots and the lure of a doting father trying to protect his seven children.
"Men will go, 'Oh yeah, lots of guns blazing,"' said Heath Ledger, who plays Martin's oldest son. "But it has a lot of passion, too."
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, now working on the World War II epic "Pearl Harbor," said he had been toying with the idea of a sweeping film about the American Revolution before "The Patriot" stole his thunder.
"Right before they announced 'Patriot,' I was thinking we've got to do something about the Revolutionary War because it's such a rich area," Bruckheimer said. "We're all really revolutionaries."
He said another reason why the Revolution has tended to discourage filmmakers is that it played out far differently than later American wars.
"It doesn't have the drama because we really didn't win a lot of battles," Bruckheimer said. "It was the French that came in and saved us. It was Ben Franklin going over and getting money and troops."
Action, bloodshed and romance aside, "The Patriot" has one clear advantage over other Revolution films in Gibson, doing for 18th century America what he did for 13th century Scotland in "Braveheart."
"As you see in the flick," says Ledger, "there's a lot of Mel Gibson."
Films struggle with depictions of the Revolutionary War
Videofile, Dan Webster - Staff writer
(You can give your opinion on this at the website)
When it comes to war movies, the American Revolution hasn't exactly been the subject of great cinematic art.
Most of the films that tackle this difficult, lost-in-myth tale of the USA's struggle for independence either lose themselves in feel-good Disney stories (e.g., "Johnny Tremain") or jingoistic rewritings of history -- Roland Emmerich's "The Patriot," which is available for home entertainment this week (see capsule review below), being a perfect example.
It's not hard to understand why this is. Unlike other American wars, the Revolution isn't easy to categorize. It certainly wasn't the grand national movement that World War II was. The majority of colonists either fought for England or tried to remain neutral.
The Revolution probably had more in common with the Civil War, with a bit of Vietnam thrown in, although that's not the way it's been popularly portrayed. The Revolution is most easily seen as a struggle for independence, which is not completely untrue. It's just that not everybody wanted the same thing.
That much "The Patriot" gets right. In the first reel, the film portrays Mel Gibson's character -- a veteran of the bloody French and Indian Wars -- refusing the call to arms for his own reasons. It pits him between the supporters of the status quo and those calling for the king's blood.
But it quickly devolves into a fantasy that has Gibson's character almost single-handedly forcing Gen. Cornwallis to surrender at Yorktown. And in 18th-century South Carolina, his black workers are perfectly happy and content. Right.
Anyway, America's break from England has been the subject of a few movies. Following is a sampling of the more notable offerings (all are available for home viewing):
"America" (1924): D.W. Griffith's silent saga of a family caught up in the revolution has been called "probably the finest of all Revolutionary War epics ever made." Look for Lionel Barrymore as a bad guy. (VHS/DVD)
"The Bastard" (1978): This was the first in a series of made-for-television movies based on the novels of John Jakes (it was followed by "The Rebels" and "The Seekers" in 1979). Andrew Stevens stars as the illegitimate son of an English duke who escapes family difficulties by fleeing to America and becoming involved in the revolution. (VHS only)
"George Washington" (1984): Another TV miniseries, this one stars Barry Bostwick as the title character and follows him from his early days as a soldier in the French and Indian Wars to the first president of a freshly formed country. (VHS only)
"Revolution" (1985): Al Pacino being cast as a Scottish immigrant is only one of many things wrong with this ungainly Hugh Hudson film. It's got the sweep of Hudson's great "Chariots of Fire" but, overall, it plays out more like Michael Cimino's "Heaven's Gate."
"1776" (1972): If you like Broadway musicals, you may be amused by this music-minded look at the various plots and plans hatched by the likes of John Adams (William Daniels), Ben Franklin (Howard Da Silva), Thomas Jefferson (Ken Howard) and others on the eve of American independence. (VHS only)
"John Paul Jones" (1959): Robert Stack, his trademark stiffness intact, plays the U.S. Naval war hero in an action film most notable for being Mia Farrow's pre-"Peyton Place" movie debut. (VHS only)The week's major home-entertainment releases:
The Patriot2-1/2 STARSIn his best "Braveheart" manner, Mel Gibson rides out from the swamps of South Carolina, matches wits with the redcoats and ensures freedom for the Colonies. After watching this Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day") revenge fantasy, it makes you wonder what George Washington ever did.
Actually, Emmerich's initial build-up works well: We see Gibson's Benjamin Martin, a veteran of the French and Indian Wars, hold off joining the Revolution as long as he can. When he does join, it is with a blood thirst that is terrible to see. All too soon, though, "The Patriot" devolves into a traditional tale that equates battle death with glory, a contradiction of terms if ever there was one.
Gibson can still turn a phrase, and even squeeze out a tear or two, but Emmerich's film all too often settles for easy answers to complex historical questions. (VHS/DVD) Rated R.
"For me, Al has been incredible. He's very communicative. He's not one of those actors who comes on the set and then leaves. We're doing a lot of improvising and talking about the work. So in the end it just flows. I can't tell you to what extent he's helped me. He lets life come into the work, little accidents; things don't wind up just the way they're written." (from an article on Kinski)
(232k) bodies in the river
(302k) stay by officers
Currently unavailable on dvd, but you can buy the video at Amazon.com