When it comes to the American war of Independence most Film makers will just build upon highly romanticised American folklore and distort even further what actually happened.

Mel Gibson’s ‘The Patriot’ offers a good example of how to just about turn every historical fact on its head. It is much easier to list the few things in the movie that they portray accurately as:

  1. Only 25% of the colonists actually wanted independence (in DVD commentary)
  2. The savagery employed by the Patriots.
  3. A rare tactical defeat of the British at the battle of Hannah’s Cowpens.
  4. An acknowledgement of the fact that the French (plus Spanish and Dutch) actually made the war unsustainable for the British.

The best way to describe the rest of this movie is that, nearly everything the redcoats are depicted as doing, including their motives and actions, was in reality the motives and actions of the Patriots and what they did to those that wanted to stay loyal to the King.
But particularly galling however is how the movie has added to a progressive character assignation (started by patriots) of probably Britain’s most successful officer of the war, Dragoon Colonel Banastre Tarleton by basing an evil character Tavington on him.
Tarleton was no saint, but certainly not the monster the patriots try to make out and he didn’t die in battle as in the movie but 50 years later.
The movie is so bad that the Smithsonian Institute, who had initially provided support, withdrew this and disowned association after having seen it.
Of course they will say it’s only a movie, but as it’s so misleading it requires putting into context:

The opening shot is a tomahawk being put away, with the impression the colonists beat the French and Indians, they didn’t.
The riots in Charlestown looked so normal, not the bloody murderous ones that they were against the majority, who were Loyalists.
Completely the wrong impression of general consent for the war is given, where in fact the youth were targeted to enlist in the continental army as a way of escaping boredom and the hard farm life (a tactic still used today).

Probably the worst scene of all is where redcoats were shown as executing wounded continental soldiers at Mel Gibson's home, which is preposterous!! Unlike patriots the redcoats were under orders to look after prisoners and the majority they captured were paroled back to their homes for the duration of the war.
After this, Mel Gibson went to rescue his son and whereas patriot militia were often excellent marksmen who could pick off redcoats, Mel Gibson’s charge against British bayonets is laughable, not even a ‘ghost’ would have stood a chance.
And the accompanying ominous music for when the redcoats emerged from the cornfield added to the propaganda.

The implication given was that the Loyalists were the traitors which defies the use of the word (act of disloyalty), it was the patriots that were the traitors Another false implication was that the Black Americans were free in the south, when in fact many were being murdered to discourage them from joining the British.
The patriot women are shown as so (incongruously) genteel, while at the same time encouraging cold blooded murder and dismissing the butchering of redcoats as ‘you have nothing to be ashamed of ‘– what a laugh.
The excuse given why Gates was a coward, was that he had spent too much time in the British army, this overlooks the bravery of redcoats and that Washington, amongst others had also been in the British army.
How can anyone write such tripe!
What also was implied was that Cornwallis and Tavington were coveting land beyond the Proclamation line, this couldn’t happen; but it was what the patriots were after.
The scene where patriots were being recruited in a church, sighted freedom, but this had no meaning, they weren’t prisoners.
And the music when volunteers stood up in turn followed by the Reverent saying he had to ‘fight the wolves’ was nauseous.
What was typical though, was the natural ally of the patriots, the over-the-mountain scum that were being recruited in the tavern, but for them to agree in the movie to give full quarter to the redcoats, was a joke…. e.g. Kings Mount.
Blacks in the movie are being buoyed up with talk of freedom, but they didn’t show that this was reneged on.
Mel Gibson’s excuse for targeting British officers was because he said, redcoats were targeting women and children – Goebbels would be proud of that one.
The burning down of a church was another complete fabrication, whatever could that have achieved?
Surprisingly the British didn’t hate the patriots and would know that sort of thing would be completely counter-productive, also they were being supplied with good intelligence anyway.
A slave was told ‘it was an honour to have him with them’, a convenient statement for the moment, but any promises of freedom were never kept.
And the usual finale of ‘if we win the war we could start a whole new world’ – yes it was, one that was much worse than before for most of them.