Monday, May 28, 2012

Big Screen Angst: Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot

Ah, The Patriot. Back in the day, Ebert called it, "A summer action movie with a historical gloss." Yep. This is not a movie anyone will watch in their college history class unless it's to play a rousing game of spot the historical inaccuracy. Film students can play spot the blockbuster cliche. Either game would be fun and both allow you the opportunity to see Heath Ledger in one of his few blonde performances. 

Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot
I'll admit, I was the right age for this movie. (Except... I was technically the wrong age for this movie. It was rated R. I wonder what PG13 movie I bought a ticket to in order to sneak into this one...)  I loved me some epic storytelling and I loved doomed love. I remember very clearly discussing the trailer for The Patriot with friends of mine. "Oooo! It's the guy from 10 Things I Hate About You!" Yeah, we were awesome. 

Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot
Gabriel Martin is an 18 year old son of a farmer. His dad was a big war hero back in the day, but now that he's a single father with seven children, he wears his pacifism like a father of the year badge. Gabriel doesn't get it. He wants to join the cause, fight the incredibly evil Brits, and win America her freedom. Yeah! Freedom! Huzzah!

Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot
Except war sucks. Fighting sucks. Death sucks. Freezing in the cold sucks. Especially in the eighteenth century.

Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot
Gabriel gets wounded as he's bringing some dispatches someplace and returns to his family farm. In this scene, he's bloody, sweaty, shirtless and totally using an Australian accent.

Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot
Heath Ledger shirtless as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot
The following morning, Lucius Malfoy shows up. Turns out he was a Death Eater as far back as 1776. He murders a child and takes Gabriel, saving him to murder later. It is at this point that Benjamin Martin says pacifism be damned, I've got me some British soldiers who need a tomahawk to the face.

Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot
Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot
His kids watch on in horror as he slaughters man after man. I remember the controversy surrounding the hatchet-to-the-skull scene back in the day. How far we've come in 12 years.

Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot
Anywho... Gabriel manages to find a few minutes to fall in love with the outspoken girl from the town over. Things happened fast back then because after two scenes together, they get married.

Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot
Unfortunately, at their wedding, Gabriel's dad gives her The Necklace of Doom. You know, I remember now how I saw this movie. My aunt took me. She leaned over to me while The Necklace of Doom was being placed around Anne's neck and whispered "They're going to find that necklace later when she's killed." I thought my aunt was a regular clearvoyant. Turns out she was just more attuned to movie cliches than I was.

Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot
So yeah. They find the necklace in the ashes of a church and Gabriel goes bonkers.

Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot
He rides off after Captain Hook and does his darndest to run him through. But, wouldn't you know it, he fails.

Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot
Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot
And then he dies. I hate that part. And I hate seeing Heath Ledger die on screen. So let's move on.

Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin in The Patriot
Gabriel's death is the push that Benny needs to single handedly win the war. Just think, without Mel Gibson, we'd still have The Queen's face on all our money. Thank goodness his children we're brutally murdered in front of him. I mean, really. Thank. Goodness. But seriously folks, luckily for us, the real men and women who die fighting for the stars and stripes aren't as stupid as Gabriel Martin.

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