Mel Gibson returns to the silver screen this summer in Columbia/TriStar Pictures’ release “The Patriot”, a historical action-drama set during the Revolutionary War. Gibson plays freedom fighter Benjamin Martin. Now a pacifist and peaceful farmer and family man, Martin still grapples with the sins of his past when he was a ruthless guerilla fighter. As the war between the British and the colonists heats up, Martin is asked to fight. Initially he is overwhelmed with guilt from his past and refuses. This changes as circumstances surrounding his patriot son and family leave him no other choice but to join forces with the American rebel movement. This further fuels his own conflict between his need to protect his family and his need to honor his principle.
Mel Gibson is no stranger to the role of “reluctant” hero. From Mad Max to Braveheart, Gibson has played characters that fight an internal war amidst the backdrop of an external one. It is the universal theme of an ordinary man’s growth through extraordinary circumstances. This universal theme along with the story’s human element was what attracted Gibson. Gibson was drawn to the film’s ability to reach its audience on an emotional level.
“The thing I liked about it (the story) is that while it is a very big film, at the core of it is a real story with characters that are understandable, just ordinary people. It’s got that small aspect to the story. Not outer space, but inner space.”
Originally the project began from an interest in the American Revolution shared by screenwriter Robert Rodat (who received an Oscar nomination for his Saving Private Ryan screenplay) and producers Mark Gordon and Gary Levinsohn.
“Setting a film during this period was fascinating,” writes Dean Devlin, one of the show’s producers, “especially as we move into the millennium. It’s an interesting time to look back and think about how the country was started.”
The film was shot on location in South Carolina near historic Revolutionary war sites. Mel Gibson and the rest of the cast spent endless hours on horseback reenacting one bloody battle after another. However, animal lovers can rest assured that no matter how authentic the violence appears to be, no animals were harmed or abused during shooting. The American Humane Association supervised the animal action during production to ensure humane treatment and have given the film an acceptable AHA rating. No doubt, this is good news to the film’s star. Gibson, a fellow animal lover, counts an Australian Shepherd named Patch and a kitty named Yo-Yo as two of his closest companions, and enjoys spending most of his free time with the rest of his furry friends and family back at his ranch in Australia.
The film, also starring Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs and Joely Richardson, will start revolutionizing the summer box office on June 30.