Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Anti-Feminist Feminist Scene in THE PATRIOT

So I discovered this movie, The Patriot (2000), starring Mel Gibson and the late Heath Ledger, during the final week of my winter break. It literally played four times on the same channel, thisTV, in one week. And I watched it every time (some in their entirety and some just in clips as I switched channels). I normally don't go for war films, but this one continuously grasped my attention. There's a lot I could talk about in regards to this movie but of course for right now I am going to focus on one of the movie's few FEMALE characters. :)

Watch the scene first and then read on. ;)

Whoa! Slow down there, outspoken feminist of the 1700s! :P

This young lady is Anne Howard (Lisa Brenner), love interest of Heath Ledger's character, Gabriel Martin. And she has a lot to say.

Why it's a feminist scene:

This scene consists of a great monologue delivered by Anne standing up for what she believes. Not only does she do this, but the men in the room don't stop her from doing it and are ultimately moved by her words.

This movie takes place during the Revolutionary War and the last I checked women had little to no rights back then so it is actually pretty shocking and inaccurate to me how they let her go on and on and actually look guilty as she tells them off. This young woman speaks her mind, a full speech, and not one man in the scene tells her something along the lines of "Shut up and sit down, little girl! You have no idea what you're talking about!" Actually, they do the complete opposite. They listen to every word she has to say and are convinced to join the militia BECAUSE of her words. It is because of her, a character we know very little about, that the plot of the film shifts and moves forward. Gabriel doesn't influence them to join the militia. A woman does.


Why it's not a feminist scene:

It's easy to talk tough when you're not the one doing the dirty work. I originally didn't like Anne at first because of this reason and felt that this monologue was an ongoing rant that ultimately doesn't really mean anything. She convinces them to show their patriotism with their values and claims that they are just as much patriots as she, but yet never does she say something like, "If I had the right to fight in the war I would, so why won't you?!" I do understand though too that her fighting in the war would have been unheard of then, so therefore a thought like this would never cross her mind anyway. Then again if she were to say this line, this is still talking tough without action. Sure she talks the talk, but does she walk the walk?

She makes a persuasive argument, and a well spoken one at that, but in the long run she's also going to be safe and sound (well, at least for a majority of the film she's safe) in her town while the guys she speaks to so passionately are the ones constantly in harm's way on the battlegrounds. She speaks to convince THEM to go while she stays put. It's like she's saying "You guys said all of this so you go do it even though I believe the exact same way you do and I am currently speaking about it like you do. But you guys can still go and be in danger and I'll just stay here." It's like a "speak for yourself" kind of scenario.

But, I'm probably looking at it the wrong way because the scene is clearly not intended to be perceived this way. It is portrayed as a very inspirational scene and audiences seem to really appreciate it. Perhaps this scene is trying to prove that women back then would have been willing to fight as well and to portray them in an encouraging, influential light, but yet I feel like she just does this to impress Gabriel, a man and love interest, as well. But then again this isn't a very effective enough explanation and I may not be giving her enough credit.

A bit about my reaction to the film itself as a whole:

I didn't have much internet access my final week of break, so for some entertainment I turned to TV. Perhaps if I had internet I wouldn't have watched this film. Four times.

If you haven't seen it I recommend you doing so. It was directed by Roland Emmerich. I knew that name looked familiar so I had to look it up. That is the same guy who directed Anonymous (2011).  I'm sure you remember my YouTube review of it. :P Anyway, perhaps that is a reason why I really like this movie. I had been wanting to watch another Roland Emmerich film and I did so without making this connection until now.

Okay, so I was still shocked at myself for actually enjoying a war film, considering I have had bad experiences with war films in the past, so I decided to look up details on IMDb, which says that it is rated R and I had a feeling it would be, and on here as well. Kids-in-Mind is a fantastic site for parents looking up films to monitor what their kids watch. It can also help people that are squeamish like me because it gives specific details as to what exactly happens that might be considered questionable in any film so people can be well prepared ahead of time.

I know I'm not a kid! Shut up! It's still a very useful site! :P

See the thing is I knew it had to be rated R considering the subject matter, but yet I was surprised to discover that R is its true rating, along with the high levels of gore on the Kids-in-Mind website. It didn't strike me as a rated R film as I watched it and I do not recall some of the details given on Kids-in-Mind. In fact, I was amazed at how tame the film seems for a war film.

The only conclusion I can draw, and I drew this even before I looked any of this up because it made no sense to me why a rated R gory war film did not showcase that much gore in my opinion or bother me in this way, is that the content of the film was edited for TV, so the version I watched and was okay with was the censored version, excluding most of the really gory details. In other words, I didn't get the full affect of the whole movie and was spared of some of the gruesomeness and people in pain, which is something else I really hate watching in any form of media. Keep that in mind if you are like me but are also interested in watching the film. I'd say perhaps before you rent it wait to watch it on TV if you want to avoid certain moments. Either that or read Kids-in-Mind or other sites like that, ask around for advice if you'd like, and determine for yourself what you can handle, which is better.

On a side note, does anybody else think that this actress looks a lot like Rachel McAdams? I thought it was her!

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