The Patriot

  • Directors: Roland Emmerich
  • Producers: Dean Devlin, Mark Gordon, Gary Levinsohn
  • Writers: Robert Rodat
  • Genres: Action, Drama, War
  • Actors: Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs, Joely Richardson, Chris Cooper, Tom Wilkinson

At the beginning of the American Revolution, Benjamin Martin (Gibson) is a South Carolina veteran of the French and Indian War and a widower raising his seven children on his farm. Gabriel (Ledger), the eldest, is anxious to join the American forces fighting the British in the Revolutionary War. Knowing war from personal experience, Ben tries to discourage his son’s ambitions, but his son enlists anyway.

Gabriel returns home two years later, stumbling wounded into the family home and carrying military dispatches. The next day, a military skirmish have the Martins caring for the wounded from both sides. British soldiers – the ruthless Green Dragoons cavalry – arrive and kill the Colonial wounded, burn down the Martin house and arrest Gabriel as a spy, intending to hang him. Ben’s next eldest son Thomas (Smith) is shot and killed by the leader of the Green Dragoons, Colonel William Tavington (Isaacs).

Making use of his knowledge of fighting in the wilds, Ben and his two younger sons, Nathan (Morgan) and Samuel (Chafin) set forth to ambush the British column in the woods. They manage to kill most of the soldiers in an ambush and free Gabriel. The boys are horrified at their first glimpse of their father’s ferocity. Gabriel rejoins the cause against his father’s will again, stating it is his duty as a soldier. Ben decides to join as well, leaving the rest of the children in the care of their aunt Charlotte (Joely Richardson), Ben’s sister-in-law.

Martin and his family return to their home to find the militia helping to rebuild it. Occam (Jones) tells Ben, “Gabriel said that if we won the war, we could build a whole new world. Just figured we’d get started right here, with your home.” Benjamin smiles.

Saving Private Ryan

  • Directors: Steven Spielberg
  • Producers: Steven Spielberg, Ian Bryce, Mark Gordon, Gary Levinsohn
  • Writers: Robert Rodat
  • Genres: Action, Drama, War
  • Actors: Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Matt Damon, Edward Burns, Jeremy Davies, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, Dennis Farina

The film begins with an elderly World War II veteran (Harrison Young) and his family visiting the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy, France. The veteran collapses to his knees in front of a gravestone, overwhelmed by emotion. The scene then changes to the beginning of the Normandy invasion, with American soldiers landing on Omaha Beach and struggling against dug-in German Army infantry, machine gun nests and artillery fire. One of the officers who survives the initial landing, Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks), commanding officer of C Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion, assembles a group of soldiers and slowly penetrates the German defenses, leading to a breakout from the beach.

Meanwhile, in the United States, General George C. Marshall discovers that three of the four brothers of the Ryan family have all died within days of each other and that their mother will receive all three notices on the same day. He learns that the fourth son, Private First Class James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon) of Baker Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment is missing in action somewhere in Normandy. The drop target for Ryan’s unit was Neuville-au-Plain, Manche. After reading to his staff Abraham Lincoln’s Letter to Mrs. Bixby, Marshall orders that Ryan be found and sent home immediately.

Back in the present, the elderly veteran is revealed to be Ryan at Miller’s grave. Ryan asks his wife to confirm that he has led a good life and that he is a “good man”, and thus worthy of Miller’s and the others’ sacrifice. He then salutes Miller’s grave as the camera pans down the gravestones to the American flag and fades out.