The Patriot

| 15+
Cautions: strong violence and intensity, some spiritual confusion, some filial rebellion, immodesty and mild sensuality, and some language

The Patriot creates a vivid conflict set in the American War for Independence, pitting good men against a fictional embodiment of evil.  Despite Ben’s insistence that he will not go to war to repeat his infamous acts of barbarity of years ago, human wickedness suddenly meets him on his own doorstep and unleashes him on the enemy as a seasoned strategist and killer with something worth fighting for.

2000 | Roland Emmerich | 165 min Watch Trailer

Strong Violence and Intensity
Though not especially heavy on gore, The Patriot’s death scenes, battle scenes and hacks, slashes and stabbings are intense enough and sometimes graphic enough to deter sensitive viewers.

A man’s head is blown off in a battle sequence, shown in profile.  A character is stabbed in the front of the throat with a detached bayonet, the man’s face in close up but the stabbing just below the screen.  The main character, Ben, uses a tomahawk frequently, and is shown throwing it into enemies’ backs and foreheads.  In a negatively-portrayed act of grief, Ben keeps hacking the body of a dead enemy soldier with his tomahawk until he’s splattered all over in blood.

Close-up battle scenes include men being shot down or attacked with swords or bayonets in intense hand-to-hand combat.  Blood sometimes spurts or spills from wounds.  A man’s leg is shot off.  Amputation wounds are briefly seen, and another amputation is briefly heard.

A character gravely tells a story about a slow, torturous massacre ending with the victims’ heads being sent to one place, and miscellaneous other parts being placed in baskets and sent to another place.  

Several characters die in very personal, emotionally-intense ways.  One is graphically stabbed and dies later with his eyes open.  Others are shot at point blank.  One man commits suicide by shooting himself in the head.  Women and children are included in a mass killing offscreen, and a woman and a little boy are seen lying dead on the ground.

There are several lengthy intense segments, with children trying to hide and escape from murderous bad guys who are searching the house for them, or with frightened little boys shooting and being shot at by enemy soldiers.  

Corpses are shown after a battle.  Hanged men are shown dangling, from the lower half down.

Buildings are set on fire at different times throughout the movie, and one burns to the ground with people inside, screaming.  A ship explodes.

Some Spiritual Confusion
Despite the main character Ben’s obvious Christian affiliation and apparently sincere prayers, he evidences some misguided beliefs.  His past stained by heinous acts of violence, he states that “not a day goes by I don’t ask forgiveness for what I did,” implying that he does not trust God to have forgiven him.  

Ben’s son is told that a congregation was praying for the souls of some men who had recently died, and he agrees that they should pray for them.  One of Ben’s daughters briefly comforts her sister by connecting their deceased mother with the north star, and saying that “she’ll always be looking down on us and protect us.”

Ben attributes his having “changed” to the effect of his wife, leaving it unclear whether he’s simply giving her credit for her influence or failing to give God credit.

Some Filial Rebellion
Two of Ben’s sons make it clear that they are not satisfied with his initial laissez-faire attitude toward the war and intend to enlist without his permission and against his command, though neither of them are ultimately rewarded for their rebellion.  Arguments with his sons, coupled with personal encounters with the enemy, eventually persuade Ben that his sons were more correct in their view of principles.  

One of Ben’s daughters says that she hates him, though this is resolved later.

Immodesty and Mild Sensuality
A young man spends the night with his love interest, he having been stitched into the bed by the girl’s mother, and it is implied that they spent at least part of the night kissing.  The girl’s mother tells her husband not to worry about the young lovers engaging in fornication, because she is a better sewer than her mother was.

Unmarried couples kiss a few times, sometimes passionately.

A woman who comes into the story several times is regularly seen with cleavage bared, though this is not played up as especially sensual.  At one point she is shown in a semi-public place in her corset and underdress.  

Men are briefly shown shirtless.

Some Language
My Lord
Good heavens

An unbelieving character appears to slant a pastor’s prayer in the name of the Father, the Son and the “Holy Ghost” into a reference to the main character, whose nickname among the enemy is “the Ghost”.

The characters in The Patriot are for the most part fictional, and while some of their actions represent an amalgamation of the actions of real men who were involved in the war, many of the things they do are not based in history and do not reflect the actions or attitudes of real people of the time.  Taken as a fictional story like any other fictional story, The Patriot’s loose attachment to historical fact is not a problem, but treated as educational material the movie has at best minimal value.

After a recruiter interrupts a church service to call for enlistees and and is received less than enthusiastically, a positively-portrayed young woman stands up alone and demands that the men in the congregation (including her father and the pastor) live up to their principles.  While her opposition to hypocrisy, cowardice and lukewarmness is correct, her methodology is questionable1 and her speech was far from a last resort.

Ben promises his daughter that he will come back, knowing he will be engaged in battles.  A well-meaning man lies to Ben, changing what his little girl said about him from negative to positive to avoid discouraging him.

A frightened enemy soldier compares a mysterious man to a ghost.  A character wishes someone “good luck”.

A Christian wedding ceremony makes the bride’s and groom’s vows identical.

Characters drink alcohol occasionally.  Ben references being drunk several times years before.  

A character chews tobacco.

1  1 Timothy 2:12 makes the girl’s exhortation in the context of the church meeting problematic, and 1 Timothy 5:1 makes it clear that her rebuke of those who were at once men, elders and authority figures was at best inappropriate.

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