Was "The Patriot" historically accurate or inaccurate? How so?please give websites and full detail!

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I might offer a more general response.  I think that there is an inherent danger to accepting any film produced for profit as being "historically accurate."  I think the reason for this is that whenever a film is being made for commercial appeal, the desire to embellish or alter the historical record for the sake of drama is too great.  Certainly, the film can serve as a very nice and powerful dramatization of the elements at stake in the Revolution.  Yet, to offer it as a historical source of inquiry is one that should be refrained.  I would suggest that the film gains some level of historical authenticity and veracity when viewers are able to contrast how the film depicts elements with what actually happened.  When this comparison is employed, then one has created a realm where historical veracity is analyzed and scrutinized.  In this domain, there can be a greater chance of finding out what might constitute as "truth" and one would not be relying too much on commercial elements.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Basically, the answer to your question is "yes."  The movie is both historically accurate and historically inaccurate.  It would be surprising if this were not true.  No movie could possibly be exactly true to history while remaining entertaining.

Most of the websites that discuss this are by amateur historians and/or are very heavily influenced by the personal politics of their authors.  My best suggestion for you is to look for the review of this movie that appeared on page 1146 of The Journal of American History in December 2000.  It was entitled "The Patriot" and was written by William Ross St. George.  If your school has access to the ProQuest system (database of periodicals) you could find it that way.

Briefly, the article says that the movie exaggerates the British atrocities it portrays.  It also ignores the fact that most of the soldiers fighting for the British in South Carolina were colonists.  It also does a few other things to make the Patriots look good and the British look bad.  For more detail, find the article.

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