The Patriot | 2000
Widowed father Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), the kindly employer of a happy black workers’ collective, is pitched against the irredeemably evil, kiddie-shooting, church-burning Colonel Tavington (Jason Isaacs) in this carefully objective view of the American War of Independence.
Martin (based on the unmarried and childless slave-owner Francis Marion) has seven children which – by an astonishing coincidence – is precisely the same number of children Mel Gibson had at the time. Spooky, huh? Director Roland Emmerich is not going for the strictly historical approach.
Caleb Deschanel’s photography is superb, though, and there’s a great use of South Carolina locations.
The production demanded acres of rolling hills and trees without the intrusion of modern crops, which were found at the Guy Darby Farm, 1949 Darby Road, Chester, about seven miles southwest of Rock Hill.
Martin’s farmhouse, the doomed village of ‘Pembroke’ and the ‘Battle of Camden’ were all filmed here.
The ‘Camden’ plantation and the interiors of both Aunt Charlotte’s (Joely Richardson) plantation and the Howard home were filmed a few miles to the north at Historic Brattonsville, 1444 Brattonsville Road, McConnells, a 775-acre ‘living history village’.
On the property, Hightower Hall, Colonel Bratton House and the Homestead House (the house Aunt Charlotte moves to after Charlestown falls to the English, which now contains an exhibition with memorabilia from the movie) were all used.
The exterior of Charlotte’s plantation is the Mansfield Plantation, 1776 Mansfield Road, Georgetown, now a bed-and-breakfast. Georgetown is on the South Carolina coast about 60 miles northeast of Charleston.
Martin is summoned to the Assembly at Charleston (the real thing, though there’s quite a bit of CGI involved), where he speaks against entry into the war against England in the College of Charleston, 66 George Street (also seen in Anthony Minghella's Cold Mountain and in O, Tim Blake Nelson’s high school update of Othello).
With his militia, he manfully suffers the deprivations of camp in the Black Swamp, which is Cypress Gardens, 3030 Cypress Gardens Road, Moncks Corner, also the hangout of the Swamp Thing, where the ruined church from the production has been kept.
Meanwhile, the decadent British bitch over the dreadful state of their uniforms while attending a ball at Middleton Place, 4300 Ashley River Road, Charleston. Built in 1755, the property remains under the same family stewardship and today, successfully preserves history for visitors to enjoy at the Middleton House Museum, with furniture, silver, porcelain, rare books and portraits.
The enlightened Martin is reunited with his happily grateful African-American co-workers on the beach at Botany Bay Plantation, Edisto Island, one of the largest sea islands in South Carolina, and seen in the equally credible veterinary documentary, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.