Moriarty takes a microscope to THE PATRIOT
Hey folks, time for celebration.... the venerable old coot has finally loved an Emmerich and Devlin movie!!! You know what this means? It means he isn't a completely closed minded fool. It means that PEARL HARBOR might have a chance with this old man. It means that... well, he saw a damn good movie called THE PATRIOT. As usual you'll have to wade through all this meaningless babble about the movie, when he could be doing a really fun and cool schtick... Buuuuuuut noooooooo..... He felt the need and desire to discuss the movie. Talk about it's finer points, share with you his acute analysis of it's 24 frames a second. So read on and learn from the Professor....
Hey, Head Geek…
I don’t have to tell you what film I saw last night, Harry. You and Robie were there. But I was pretty careful after the film to not give too much of my reaction away to you two. Even when I spoke briefly to John Calley to congratulate him or when I told Dean Devlin that I thought they’d nailed it, I was still restraining myself, holding in certain thoughts and feelings and impressions. I wanted to take some time and really think about this one.
You see, I’ve always been an incredibly harsh critic of Devlin and Emmerich as a filmmaking team. STARGATE was a film that I ultimately found disappointing despite flashes of fun. With INDEPENDENCE DAY, though, I found myself resolutely standing against the mainstream, dumbfounded as it blasted its way up the box office charts. Even that didn’t prepare me for the sheer horror with which I sat and absorbed GODZILLA, a film that just puzzled me on every level. I say all this to help put my reaction to this new film in context, especially for those of you who have been so vocal in TALK BACKS about shills and the like whenever anyone says the film is good or even very good.
THE PATRIOT is not just a very good film. It’s most likely a great film.
The opening image is everything a great opening image should be. It communicates volumes, but it does it quietly, simply. We’re looking into a small wooden box filled with momentos of a violent past. There’s a war hatchet, a flintlock pistol. Mel Gibson’s voice speaks in voice-over, and it is a voice filled with pain, anguish, and even shame. “I have long feared that my past would catch up with me. Now that it has, it is more than I can bear.” And just like that, we are introduced to the world of Benjamin Martin.
He’s a father, husband to a recently deceased wife. There’s a somber beauty to the early moments he spends tending her grave that puts me in mind of William Munney’s few stolen moments at the grave of his wife in UNFORGIVEN. There’s a bit of levity at the beginning with Martin trying to build a rocking chair, but considering how willing Gibson was to indulge his hambone in BRAVEHEART, this scene is restrained, modestly funny. It humanizes him without taking away any of the weight of the character.
It’s important that he not be seen as funny or even slightly less than dead serious. The movie gets down to business in no time when Martin is summoned into Charlottesville, S.C., the nearest major city to his home, as part of a vote on whether to enter the Revolution or not. The debate here is smart, and it does a wonderful job of drawing us into the time, realizing the emotions that controlled the day. Martin makes an impassioned plea with those gathered to not go to war, to avoid it at all costs. He doesn’t hide behind principles, either. His motive is naked. He doesn’t want to lose his children, and he doesn’t want them to lose their father.
Family is the heart of this film. In some ways, this is the first time I’ve seen a filmmaker try to paint any real sense of community in colonial times. These people aren’t just united by a dream of freedom from the king or talk of a new world; they are bound by geography, and they have as many quarrels and skirmishes and quirks and joys and tears as any extended family would. When war comes to South Carolina, the price is terrible, too much for many to bear. Martin watches as his oldest son Gabriel (Heath Ledger) enlists against his wishes. He watches as Gabriel goes off to fight in the infantry, putting himself directly in harm’s way. Martin is powerless, and the toll that takes on him is enormous and obvious. What’s not so obvious is exactly why Martin is so petrified by war.
The key to that particular secret lie in the events that took place years before at Fort Wilderness. Whatever happened, men approach Martin everywhere to shake his hand or buy him a drink. He is a legendary fighter, a warrior with a ferocious reputation. He is also fighting that part of himself with everything he’s got, wrestling to not be whatever he was. He fights it in himself and in his sons. He wants nothing more to do with violence.
But, of course, it finds its way to him. Gabriel finds his way home after a nearby battle. Soon, the battle itself spills onto the property. The work here by director of photography Caleb Deschanel is luminous, spectacular. This is as beautiful as any film you’ll see in the theater this year. Watching this ancient style of warfare play out against the purple woods in the darkest hour of the night is strangely lovely, even at its most horrible. Martin can’t help himself; he opens his home to the wounded of both sides, he and his family all doing their best to ease pain, prevent death.
Into the midst of this rides Colonel William Tavington (Jason Isaacs). Like Joaquin Phoenix in GLADIATOR, Isaacs has the difficult task here of creating a villain that manages to be both human and monstrous, never crossing the line into cartoon. It’s not easy to play these characters. Thankfully, Robert Rodat’s screenplay doesn’t offer up an easy characterization. Instead, Tavington is a man of petty pride and irrational fury, a man whose thoughtless actions in one particular place on one particular afternoon set into motion a chain of events that destroys not just one life or one family or even one town. Instead, Tavington is at the center of a massive ripple of misery that rips a hole in the heart of a fledgling country. War is shown here not as something to be relished or in which to find glory. Instead, war is a cancer, eating the body of a community, leaving nothing but death in its wake.
In moment after moment, Mel Gibson quietly raises the stakes for himself as an actor. After a piece of work like this, it’s going to be next to impossible to accept it if Mel phones something in or coasts on charm. His Martin is a complex soul laid bare. To me, his work here reminds me of the phenomenal work Jeff Bridges has done in films like FEARLESS and THE FISHER KING. There’s a raw, broken, wounded animal quality to Gibson that is unforgettable. It’s some of the finest acting of his career. When he finally unleashes the anger and the violence he has so carefully kept in check, he is a vision of Hell on earth, and there is a moment he shares with his sons that is undeniably shattering. They see him for the worst of what he is, and to complicate things, they see him for the worst of what they can be. They are introduced to death, face-to-face, and they can’t deny that it is in their blood.
You’re going to hear people who try to compare this film to BRAVEHEART. I cannot state strongly enough that anyone who makes such a lazy, half-assed comparison does not deserve your attention beyond that point. This film has absolutely, 100% nothing to do with BRAVEHEART thematically. They are completely different films. To my mind, this is the better of the two movies, and it’s not a hard decision for me to make. As much as I love John Toll’s photography and as much as I enjoy the rowdy, raucous life of the battle sequences, too much of BRAVEHEART failed for me because of bizarre tone choices. Maybe I was just spoiled young by Monty Python, but I found the whole first 30 minutes of BRAVEHEART to be borderline hysterical. With THE PATRIOT, though, Emmerich emerges as a confident storyteller, professional without being intrusive, poised at the most important moments. He never succumbs to the visual excess of the most egregious of his peers (COUGH, michaelbaysimonwestrennyharlin, COUGH). In fact, he shows admirable restraint in moments that almost beg for flourish. His battle sequences are horrific at times, but more than that… they’re fascinating. Take the cannonballs, for example. We all know about cannonballs, but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen the damage one does before. I’ve slept on the Chicamauga battlefields in the south, and I’ve seen what these things look like. My only point of reference for them in action, though, is images from films. When you see Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam shoot a cannonball back and forth harmlessly, catching it in their cannons, shooting it back, you don’t get any sense of these as weapons of horrible destructive force. When you see Baron Munchausen ride a cannonball, you don’t think about the fact that one could take your head off. In THE PATRIOT, there are startling images of graphic violence, but they are completely necessary. In fact, without them, the film ceases to be the moral exercise it is. It is the inclusion of these images, not the potential exclusion of them, that makes this film so moral.
There’s another film you may hear THE PATRIOT compared to, and that’s GLADIATOR. It’s almost unavoidable since they’re both massively-scaled period pieces with startling battle scenes. I think they are completely separate types of films, and comparison will only fail them both. GLADIATOR is the movie for battle junkies. If you’re going to these films because you want the visceral kick of battle and you want to feel it close-up, then Ridley Scott is the man. Yes, GLADIATOR carries an emotional wallop, but it is still ultimately a revenge story, brilliantly told. THE PATRIOT strives for something more, though, and I think there’s real greatness in that striving.
There’s a brand of film that Harry has accused me of not having any tolerance for in the past, and that’s patriotic films, pure Americana. Maybe it’s because I have spent most of my life post-Watergate. Maybe it’s growing up in the shadow of Vietnam and having a father who served there. Maybe it’s just the nature of my generation. Whatever the case, I have always had trouble with what I have seen as the Disney-ification of our history, this blanket acceptance that everything American is right. I have always railed against the concept that we forged this nation with clean hands. I have always been cynical about the various concept of patriotism.
But as I sat in this theater in Orange County on Tuesday night, all that fell away. What I watched was a story about sacrifice, about the difference between revenge and righteous anger, and about the value of family and home. It’s a film that respects the sanctity of what we as Americans take for granted every day. Maybe there’s some irony in a German filmmaker finally breaking through this cast-iron heart of mine and reaching this pure and proud place. For the first time, I understood the full weight of the decision that we as a country made when the Declaration of Independence was drafted. I walked out of that theater genuinely proud to have inherited the freedoms that thousands of Benjamin Martins fought and suffered to guarantee me. This July, prepare to be moved by a film that is far deeper, far more poetic, and far greater than I ever expected it could be. “Moriarty” out.
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April 20, 2000, 7:40 a.m. CST
I told you all... can you see it yet.... this Movie will be one of the best things ever.
April 20, 2000, 8:46 a.m. CST
Ok, it seems as if both Harry and Moriarity enjoy this film... So for anyone who has bashing Devlin and Roland, ... (errhum): " HA!"... Every film maker has their "Greatest" film.. Maybe this is it.. So before you start bashing it, just keep in mind that is may be as good as it gets.
April 20, 2000, 8:58 a.m. CST
..... that Curtis Hanson went from THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE to L.A. CONFIDENTIAL. These turnabouts do occur.
April 20, 2000, 9 a.m. CST
from your positive "Story of Us" review. Yikes!
April 20, 2000, 9:28 a.m. CST
Vincent Price was one suave mutha! (Da-Dum-Chhhh)But seriously, folks. Moriarty, ya took me from ho-hum-another-Mel Gibson-freedom-fighter-flick to stoked in about 1.3 minutes. Thanks!
April 20, 2000, 9:43 a.m. CST
by Monster Rain
They fell from mighty heights with Godzilla, but they have clawed their way back up and come June 30, we will all sing their praises. As long as Maria Potillo doesn't have a cameo as Molly Pitcher...
April 20, 2000, 9:54 a.m. CST
by Lethal Waffle
All this to ask Moriarty : where the hell is the 90's list ???
April 20, 2000, 9:55 a.m. CST
...the Australian release date of 'Gladiator' was bumped up from August to May? I remember seeing the original date and thinking "Damn, why the 3 month delay", but then today in the paper I read it is out May 4. I'm not complaining, I mean the sooner this comes out the better. I want it to do nice and well before 'X-Men' comes out, so they can share in the wealth. Also, if it is opening May 4, that means it comes out a day earlier than the US! What?! Well, it's been done before, like with 'Titanic' for instance. >>> Ok, well seeing as this talkback is meant to be about 'The Patriot' I will now leave as I have nothing to say about it.
April 20, 2000, 10:17 a.m. CST
You're going to see this hapening more often, as the industry feels this is an excellent way to combat piracy. We'll see how successful they are. Now, back to THE PATRIOT..... what sets Emmerich apart from a hack like Michael Bay is his natural storytelling ability. His main weakness, up until now, has been the quality of his scripts; so, it's possible that this man has a great film in him. Guess we'll just have to wait until June 30th to find out.
April 20, 2000, 10:18 a.m. CST
I've always felt that the flaws in D&E films were primarily script ones, and with Robert Rodat as the scribe I felt this had potential. I can't say, however, that I could've anticipated such a positive reaction from so many separate sources. I'm still wary of it being "Best Picture" material, but it does look good. Being one of the few who likes the way Roland Emmerich works, I hope this does really well.
April 20, 2000, 10:45 a.m. CST
Though I find your reviews a tad lengthy, and, like Harry's, involve a bit too much comparison to other films, I respect your tastes and the way you break down the finer points. Your description of the "call to arms" above is quite telling. Although I haven't seen the film, I wonder how you can make the claim that Braveheart and The Patriot have absolutely nothing in common. After all, they are both stories of an individual struggle set amidst a people's revolution, no? After that, I suppose I'll just have to see it. Anyways, if you're reading, would you make this the early best picture leader? Shalom.
April 20, 2000, 11:20 a.m. CST
I hate to be a nitpicker Moriarty but I think you mean Charlotte SC not Charlottesville. Charlotte is a major city in South Carolina while Charlottesville is a small city in Virginia (my home btw). Other than that great review, well done.
April 20, 2000, 11:41 a.m. CST
Actually, Charlotte is in NORTH Carolina. The town actually in the script - and the place they shot in - is Charleston, SOUTH Carolina. (as in Charles Towne. Like, King Charles. From England. ...Anyone? ...Anyone?) I, for one, am salivating in anticipation of seeing this film. The script was very powerful, and I've been very curious how Roland & Dean were gonna pull off some of those scenes. From the sounds of all the reviews thus far, it looks like they've delivered a visceral feast that will start the summer off with a great bang. (pun intended, of course). Fire up the grill, break out the beer and sparklers, unfurl old glory, and give thanks in remembrance to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Nothing wrong with a little patriotism on the anniversary of your country's birth.
April 20, 2000, 11:50 a.m. CST
Does anyone remember a spectacular movie called Glory that came out a while back? It starred Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman and Cary Elwes? It comes to mind as a movie that really showed what Cannonballs can do, and the completely brutal nature of war in the time of the Civil War. One wonders how much more (or less) brutal Colonial War will come through on film. If it outshines Glory as a war film, it will do well. I really love Glory, but a lot of people I know missed it.
April 20, 2000, 11:50 a.m. CST
At the very least I liked your review. It was very well written. I got a good sense of your emotional response to this film. That being said, I still don't think this movie will be any good. As someone said in a previous TalkBack, it is next to impossible for lousy filmmakers to turn their act around and stop making crap, and instead produce a masterpiece. It always works the other way around, a good or promising film, then nothing but crap. Rodriguez is a prime example. Renny Harlin is another, lesser example. I strongly doubt that these two guys have been able to turn it around. More likely is that the AICN boys have a promotional deal with the producers. P.S. Thanks for dispensing (at least this time) with the stupid "I'm-an-evil-genius" motif to your postings. You aren't just kicking a dead horse there, you're machine gunning, napalming, then nuking a dead horse.
April 20, 2000, 12:03 p.m. CST
Oops... North Carolina not south. You're right, my bad.
April 20, 2000, 1:02 p.m. CST
Well, I know the film's about PATRIOTISM and all, but I'd like to see a film where the natives have a chance for once. Oh yeah, they didn't...sorry...
April 20, 2000, 1:04 p.m. CST
April 20, 2000, 1:12 p.m. CST
by Mundane Noodle
Achilles couldn't have nailed my feelings on this any better. Although I beg to differ with the choices of director's. Neither Rodriguez, who is infinitely better than, nor Harlin have done to their potential, quiet frankly I question their abilities to hold a story together. But back to the matter at hand. Shit is shit, ain't no way of candy coatin' it. I was dragged kicking and screaming to that last pile of feces these goofs made...Godzilla. The only thing gratifying about the whole experience was telling all the glassy eyed cattle filing out of the theatre that I didn't pay for my ticket. My time was my only loss. NEVER AGAIN. These wankers won't ever get a penny from me, and I'm sure they'll do fine without my contribution. KNOW YOUR ENEMIES...We got the blunder twins and Robert Rodat (Ryan's script was it's weakest part) teaching us American history? I've heard from a few sources that the AICN boys do provide promotional perks for some movies, true? I'm having a vision...poorly dressed individuals with nacho breath and bad skin rubbing elbows with the "man", chatting away as if they are being listened to (much like this post) with their autograph book in one hand and Mel Gibson' Patriot doll in the other (with removable wig that you can comb!), they nod like good little "yes men" and once they have their orders they go running for the keys, foaming at the brain promoting the hell out of a bad movie, with gleeful stupidity...if it's true shame on you. I don't mind that we have differenciating opinion on such fodder, but if you're frontin' for someone else so they can make the greenback, and live the good life...Damn. I love this country, I can feel the patriotism swelling in my pants.
April 20, 2000, 1:37 p.m. CST
Great movie - my personal favorite glimpse at the horrors of the Civil War - and it features some of James Horner's finest music. For reasons I can't justify, I was watching VH-1's crappy "The List" show the other day, and the guests were comprised of the primary cast members of that quirky David Duchovny/Minnie Driver romance flick, I forget the exact name. Anyway, the topic was somewhat ambiguous (something like "Albums Everyone Should Own"), and the cast member I didn't recognize actually picked the soundtrack to "Glory". He get pretty hammered for the choice, and that monotone asshole Duchovny axed it from the final vote, but I thought the guy had some balls to pick something different. The album really does stand alone, and that choir gets me all emotional every time I hear it. Think I'll go listen to it now.
April 20, 2000, 1:50 p.m. CST
Mistakes can be made in the headlong rush for your own best interests. Along side of one of the biggest mistakes made in world history, was one of the best.
April 20, 2000, 2:04 p.m. CST
...but I still feel stupid when I post without catching some obvious error on my part. In my previous post, it should've read "He GOT pretty hammered for the choice..." toward the end, not "He GET pretty hammered for the choice...". Geez, what am me, Captain Cavemen?
April 20, 2000, 3:10 p.m. CST
After the garbage heap that was Stargate (seen on opening day), I felt like a total fool for being suckered by the hype of ID4 (again, on opening day). I made a promise to myself that I would never, ever, see another "film" by these two buffoons until I was absolutely assured that it would be worth my time and money. I guess I don't have to tell you that I haven't seen Godzilla. As much as I'd like to believe in this review, I can't say that I'll be at a screening of the Patriot during opening week until some of my nearest and dearest can tell me that its safe. Now Gladiator, on the other hand.....
April 20, 2000, 3:43 p.m. CST
I feel that as a Star Wars fan, that it is my right, no my duty to ensure that Ep2 is no the farce that TPM was. So I start my internet campaign today to get the hippest, coolest director in the world to head up Ep 2 and 3. This man is the illustrious BARRY SONNENFIELD. Think about it. Will Smith as Anakin. Sandra Bullock as Amidala. And of course, Adam Sandler as Obi-Wan. Now THAT is a Star Wars film
April 20, 2000, 4:18 p.m. CST
by Syd Mead
Wasn't Cornwallis a hero to Canada? Of course he'll be played like he's an military moron. It goes to show the history books are written by the winners. Mad Mel's a fine actor and one of the great living leading men...I don't think D&E discovered his acting chops. He's kept the Lethal Weapon franchise going on just his charm alone. (he can't stop that now BTW) My money is on Gladiator. But I'll catch this one on video because of Harry's and Moriarty's reviews. --Syd.
April 20, 2000, 5:57 p.m. CST
I have come to trust Moriarty more than any other reviewer at AICN 'cause I know whatever his take he'll give us the real dope on a film. This sounds almost like a mix between SHENANDOAH and UNFORGIVEN. In any case, if I wasn't looking forward to this one before, I'll definitely give it a shot now. This and GLADIATOR are going to make this a cool Summer me thinks!
April 20, 2000, 6:08 p.m. CST
Hey, everyone. Normally I will let criticisms slide right over me. Life's too short to be offended by something a TALK BACKER says. This time, though, I want to specifically address the idea that anyone involved with AICN made any sort of deal with the people at Centropolis or Sony regarding this picture. I am offended at the suggestion, and I'm curious why someone would immediately jump to such a conclusion. Is it because as filmgoers, we're all so cynical that after one mistake or two or even five, we give up on a filmmaker, sure they'll never get it right? I fall prey to that thinking frequently, and it's easy to do. Someone pointed out Curtis Hanson above, and that's a great example of how someone who just trudges along making shlock can suddenly wake up, grab hold of a great piece of material, and finally make a film that's worth celebrating. THE PATRIOT is not a perfect film. There are passages of it that I thought still needed some work. Since the screening was a test screening, I took the film at face value, and what I saw was the work of a confident, mature filmmaker who finally has a story worth telling. I have only one currency here at AICN... my honesty. I have told you time and time again what I thought of films, and anyone who runs a search for my name will get an idea of how much they agree or disagree with me. I have taken heat for reviews, such as the STORY OF US piece last fall. I don't care. I stand behind everything I've ever said on this page, and I will continue to do so. I know that my hands are clean, and any insinuation otherwise had best be backed by something more substantial than speculation or petty sniping. You don't want to see THE PATRIOT? Fine... far be it from me to convince you otherwise. But to any filmgoer who approaches the film with an open mind, there's a great experience waiting. They're the ones I wrote this piece for.
April 20, 2000, 6:33 p.m. CST
Even if it was a rough cut, there must have been something that didn't work. If you're writing for people who approach the movie with an open mind then why not present the pros and cons. That 'review' is total pro. Harry's too. Nothing is perfect, and for those of us who can't bullshit our way into test screenings like to hear both sides. Hearing only pros does not help create an informed opinion of an upcoming movie.
April 20, 2000, 7:47 p.m. CST
by Cold Fusion
Good point Doom. While I'm not accusing old Harry and Mo' of selling out, both reviews were really too focused on how the dynamic duo have redeemed themselves with this "great" flick. Describing what you don't like about a movie doesn't make you a cynical bastard, just an impartial reviewer.
April 21, 2000, 12:17 a.m. CST
by Sith Lord Jesus
. . .but I'm willing to give them a chance on this one. Why? Hell, I *hated* GODZILLA. I still think that D&E should be tarred and feathered for that one, but ID4 was good, cheesy, stupid fun and STARGATE had alot of unrealized potential which shone through only fitfully in the finished product. I have always had the sneaking suspicion that all D&E needed was a good script and a modicum of self-restraint, and they could unleash a film that could really turn the mutha OUT. Maybe this is the one. Remember, all, that everyone makes mistakes--it's just part of the learning process. I'm willing to give them a chance (ONE more chance) to impress me. Don't let me down, you two, or I got an industrial-strength can of whoop-ass with your names on it!!
April 21, 2000, 1:08 p.m. CST
"I walked out of that theater genuinely proud to have inherited the freedoms that thousands ... [have] fought and suffered to guarantee me." *** I have never understood or agreed with this type of sentiment. I am not proud of anything that I merely "inherited." If I didn't sweat or bleed for it myself, then any such pride is dangerous and false. It allows skinheads and other jingoistically inclined assholes to pump themselves up with unearned self-righteousness that excludes more than it embraces. Are the sentimental moments of chest-swelling pride really worth this risk? Patriotism is evil. One can appreciate the sacrifices that our ancestors made without taking egoistic proxy for those sacrifices in an indulgent proxy. And why limit our appreciation to those members of the human race who share geographic and ethnic similarities? I can be grateful for the positive contributions of ALL of those who have preceeeded me on this globe, without any maudlin emotion, or exclusionary bombast.
April 22, 2000, 10:56 a.m. CST
I haven't seen the movie yet, but from what people have been saying, doesn't it sound like the movie should have been called "The Outlaw Josey Wales Goes Back in Time"?
April 22, 2000, 10:10 p.m. CST
CORNWALLIS WAS AN IDIOT! Have you looked at what he did in during the Revolutionary War? The only explanation for such idiocy is that he must have been hit on the head with a large, heavy rock as a child.
April 24, 2000, 6:47 p.m. CST
this is one of the best reviews i have ever read. it includes everything i wanted to know about the film and almost brought a tear to my eye. i am sooo looking forward to this film. finally a realistic revoloutionary war film!!! this sounds like a great one to see on the 4th of July.
May 7, 2000, 8:55 p.m. CST
After reading the anti-american nonsense on this board i felt compelled to post a reply. Yes, i'm proud to be an american. I still haven't figured out exactly how that is evil. Maybe you can offer specifics instead of mouthing off what some left wing professor told you. The horrors of the 20th century resulted from Communism/Socialism. To be a patriotic american means you believe in individual rights whic are endowed by God, private property rights, and freedom of speech. This is hardly evil. As far as Indians are concerned... What was life like for Indians before whites arrived? They lived a life of War, famine, and disease. The idea of them as peaceful berrypickers is an inaccurate portrayal pepetrated in liberal academia and public school textbooks. They were in fact barbaric savages. There are many books which detail the crimes they commited against innocent white women and children. Whites simply retaliated against this barbarism. Some may say they had a right to kill because their land was being taken away. But was it really their land? Recent research has found Idians immigrated to America across the land bridge. Yes, I'm proud my anscestors fought for our freedoms as laid out in the Bill of Rights. If that makes me evil then so be it.
June 19, 2000, 12:50 p.m. CST
hey, bwood372, I'm sorry to intrude, but check your sources. I think your depiction of native american life is a bit off, or at least based on post-European contact accounts. Certainly, tribal warfare occured, though less along the Eastern Seaboard than you'd think. Also, famine and disease? Maybe by European standards, leanness would look underfed. My point is that your comments smack of classic European sentiments about the "beastly, unhuman savages who live in squalor and don't know a thing about proper clothes!" Now, as for the movie, I've heard more negative buzz than positive, though this review by Mo certainly cheers me. But Sony would have gotten my $8.50 anyway; it's a safer bet in Massachusetts to say you'd like "Patriot" over "Perfect Storm"! And any movie that had the Smithonian Institute as an advisor on all production aspects, from script to shoes, has my vote. It will be interesting to try and find out the BO numbers here in Boston that weekend...... One last comment: Patriotism. Folks, patriotism in the US is as much about *criticizing* as it is flag-waving. I love this country, that's why I'm perfectly disgusted by it. Like everything, patriotism can be weilded for as much evil as good. Let this movie feed the good patriotism in you, while you still despise the neo-nazi movement or whatever. It's OK.
June 21, 2000, 5:19 p.m. CST
Seanoid, And what sources do you propose to consult to determine the mode of living of aboriginals prior to European presence here in North America ?? Unfortunately the Native Americans left no written historical record to judge their behavior, all we have is a very old and almost certainly innaccurate oral tradition for some tribal units. Most all of the earliest European accounts of the interaction between themselves and Native Americans refer to the violent warlike behavior of the natives. There are numerous references to intertribal warfare, land disputes, slavery, venerial diseases, political inrigue and kidnapping among the natives. One of Henry Hudson's first accounts of Native Americans was when he witnessed them slashing and burning miles of shoreline along the Hudson River and later ambushing and killing some of his men on the shores of the bay. Archaeological evidence also provides some clues. For example...Iroquois and Susquahannock Woodland period village and house sites were normally stockaded...this was not to keep out squirrels, this was for defense against other Indians. One of the earliest human burials found in the United States (9000+ years before present) shows clear evidence of being violently murdered. There is very strong archaeological & historical evidence that some tribes may have practiced cannibalism. Having worked in archaeology and historical research for well over a decade, I think its fair to say that the idea of the benign Native American living peacefully and in harmony with their environment has pretty much been put to sleep by most students of the period other than those with a political agenda. Unfortunatley that stereotypical image of the peaceful indian still retains its "pop-culture" status. Native Americans were not evil, they were just human and fallible like everybody else. There is not much evidence to support the argument that native Americans were as peaceful and environmentally concious as some would like to believe.
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