The Patriot

Collector's Edition

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Details At A Glance

Category Action Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer - City
Audio Commentary - Roland Emmerich (Director), Dean Devlin (Producer)
Interactive Featurettes - Visual Effects (5)
Featurette - True Patriots (9:59)
Featurette - The Art Of War (9:46)
Photo Galleries
Conceptual Art To Film Comparison
Theatrical and Teaser Trailers (1.85:1 (non-16x9), Dolby Digital 5.1)
Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary by Roland Emmerich)
Cast & Crew Biographies
Rating ma.gif (1236 bytes)
Year Released 2000
Running Time 157:06 Minutes
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (83:03)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Roland Emmerich
Columbia.gif (3109 bytes)
Columbia Tristar Home Video
Starring Mel Gibson
Heath Ledger
Joely Richardson
Chris Cooper
Tchéky Karyo
Case Soft Brackley
RPI $36.95 Music John Williams
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
Hungarian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9Yes.jpg (4536 bytes)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English
Dutch Audio Commentary
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    When I try to describe The Patriot in words, I am often tempted to tell you about the previous films in the catalogue of director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin. I'm not normally one to dismiss any film on the basis of the crew's previous creative works, but the team of Emmerich and Devlin tend to make my skin crawl, especially when I think of such buffoonery as Independence Day and Godzilla. On top of this, the similarities to Braveheart, especially where disregard for historical accuracy is concerned, are too strong for the intelligent viewer to ignore.

    Originally, The Patriot was going to be the story of a real historical figure by the name of Francis Marion, who was also known as "the swamp fox", but historians informed the makers of some rather sordid aspects of that man's life. Among other things, those sordid aspects included his slaughtering of native Americans and his raping of his female slaves, so they decided to create a fictional story and a more likeable hero. On top of that, it seems that the moviemakers believe that they have the problems of bad acting and bad dialogue licked, now that they have computer-generated special effects and expensive wardrobes. About the only aspect of this film that doesn't constitute an anachronism is the villainy of the British army, and anyone with a functional cerebrum can tell you that this is only one side of the coin.

    However, the real question is whether or not the film is entertaining when we suppress such grave historical misgivings, and unless you're offended by the most extreme examples thereof, the film will entertain. If you like pointing your finger at ridiculousness and laughing, then this film will give you plenty of opportunities to do just that. Perhaps viewing the same Mel Gibson who appeared in such intelligent pieces of historical drama as Braveheart and Gallipoli, although these periods of history are also distorted to suit the views of certain parties, in this piece of work tends to make me biased. Maybe it is the reports I've read about audiences cheering every time a soldier's head gets blown off or a soldier takes a bayonet in the face, while they act revolted when we see a doctor working on some soldier's blown-off leg that make me repulsed by the film. Of course, in addition to having his dead wife's sister, Charlotte (Joely Richardson) drooling all over him, our hero also has the happiest slaves in the state of South Carolina. Well, actually, they're not supposed to be his slaves, they just work for him! South Carolina has evolved so much in the last hundred years or so, we wouldn't want to sully their history by daring to imply that there used to be slavery in it, would we?

    Colonel Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), aka "The Ghost", is a peace-loving man with seven children (much like the actor, no less) who simply wishes to live on his farm and let the American battle for independence sort itself out. After all, who would want to upset the apple cart when your sister-in-law is heaving her breasts at you like she's rehearsing for some new kind of sporting event? Of course, fate has other plans when Benjamin's son, Gabriel (Heath Ledger), joins the battle against his wishes. From there, we follow the Martins as they go from battle to battle with people dying all around them, while Roland Emmerich inserts a rather telegraphic close-up of Thomas Martin's (Gregory Smith) face while he has a certain look plastered on his face that just screams "I'm going to run in front of a bullet, hurrah!" or something like that. In short, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin have produced yet another film with all the emotional and dramatic impact of a WWF wrestling match.

    And that is pretty much where I am going to leave this plot synopsis because, regardless of what I tell you about this film, you are either going to buy it or leave it on the shelf for another customer who is not as concerned by historical fraud (as opposed to mere historical inaccuracy) as I am. Still, as I've said before, the primary concern is whether the film is entertaining, and if you can put aside all the problems I've just spent nearly an entire page outlining, then you will probably be entertained.

Transfer Quality


    The video transfer is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced.

    The transfer is very sharp in the foreground at all times, but any object that immediately isn't focused upon by the camera has a tendency to become blurred. Whether this is inherent in the photography or a transfer fault, I can't say for certain, but the film is very tightly compressed with the bitrate varying between three and seven megabits per second, and usually hovering around the lower end of that scale. I think this film really could have benefited from a similar dual-disc formatting to what was used with Fight Club and Gladiator, although the benefits would only be minor. Nonetheless, film grain and low-level noise are not an issue in this transfer, which was obviously taken from very clean source elements. The shadow detail is excellent, with plenty of subtle gradations between light and dark on offer.

    The colour saturation of this transfer is bright and vivid when called for, and it is also suitably dingy for such scenes as the meetings in Benjamin Martin's swamp hideout. Splashes of blood figure prominently during battle scenes, with spurts of bright red flying across the screen quite frequently as the muskets and cannons roar. There are no problems with colour bleeding or oversaturation.

    MPEG artefacts are not a problem in this transfer, although the total amount of data and action scenes on this disc does make me wonder exactly why there aren't abundant examples of posterization and macro-blocking. Film-to-video artefacts are also absent from this transfer, with no aliasing or telecine wobble apparent in the picture at any time. Film artefacts are a very minor issue in this transfer, with just the occasional white fleck appearing on a handful of frames scattered through the film.

    This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change taking place at 83:03. This is a good place for the layer change, which is noticeable but doesn't interrupt the flow of the film too much.


    Although I feel the video has been just a little too tightly compressed in order to fit on a large extras package, the audio transfer is a shining example of why DVD Video is the home video format of the future.

    There are three soundtracks included in this audio transfer: the original English dialogue, encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at the higher bitrate of 448 kilobits per second, as well as a Hungarian dub and an English Audio Commentary, both of which are encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding with a bitrate of 192 kilobits per second. Another area where the film could have benefited from dual-disc formatting is that the extra space could have been used to include a DTS soundtrack, but what we have here is good enough to make such complaints seem like minor nit-picking.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at almost all times, although there are moments when Tchéky Karyo's thick French accent made it a little difficult to understand his lines. None of the salient points of the story are lost as a result of dialogue intelligibility, so this is only a minor complaint about the way in which the film was made. There are no perceptible problems with audio sync.

    The score music in this film is credited to the incomparable John Williams, and it is another example of why this man is the highest-rated composer in the film industry today. As brainless as the film might ultimately be, the score music keeps it alive by injecting a sense of urgency and drama into the proceedings, often acting as a proxy for the dialogue. While the score is not up to the standards of the Star Wars trilogy, i.e. you can imagine this film without the score music and vice versa, it is a great example of how music can make a film much better than it would otherwise be.

    The surround channels are used frequently to support the music and sounds of battle, as well as a few ambient noises in the quieter moments of the film. For the most part, the soundtrack uses all five point one channels very effectively to create an immersive experience that makes the film just a little more engrossing than it should be. The sound field occasionally collapses into stereo during some dialogue-intensive sequences, but for the most part it is an immersive one that puts the viewer right in the thick of the battles. The subwoofer had a whale of a time supporting the music, horses, and gunfire in the soundtrack, all without calling any specific attention to itself.


    This disc carries the new Columbia Tristar DVD logo, which is actually quite pleasant to look at and listen to.


    The main menu features an animated introduction, between-menu animation, and score music from the film. The menus are all 16x9 Enhanced. Navigation is very straightforward, even in the extras menus, which gives our local version of the disc a serious competitive edge over the Region 1 version, at least according to the review on Widescreen Review.

Dolby Digital City Trailer

    If I get any sicker of this trailer, I am sure I am going to throw something at my display device. It is overly loud, overlength, unpleasant to look at, and not all that impressive where sound demonstration is concerned, either.

Audio Commentary - Roland Emmerich (Director), Dean Devlin (Producer)

    Obviously, Dean Devlin has an over-inflated view of this film, as calling The Patriot the performance of Mel Gibson's career can only otherwise be the result of extreme narcissism. Either that, or he's never seen the uncut, undubbed version of Mad Max. This audio commentary is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding. Roland Emmerich is difficult to understand because of his accent and tendency to mumble, while Dean Devlin is relatively clear and easy to understand.

Interactive Featurettes - Visual Effects

    This option takes the viewer to a sub-menu where one can select the visual effect that is of most interest to them. In order, the visual effects shots presented in this menu are How A Patriot Loses His Head, Recruiting A Digital Army, Presto! It's 1776, Ocean? City? No Problem, and Getting More Bang For Your Boat. Each shot is presented with the finished visual effect at the top of the screen, with two smaller, incomplete shots underneath. The word "interactive" is somewhat misused here, as the limit of the interactivity is that one can select one stage of the visual effect shot and view the scene as it looked during that stage of the production.

Featurette - True Patriots

   This ten-minute featurette is presented in variable aspect ratios, with interview footage presented Full Frame, and footage from the film presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1, without 16x9 Enhancement. The soundtrack is in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. The featurette briefly discusses the differences between historical reality and the film's version of events, but is otherwise of little interest.

Featurette - The Art Of War

    Clocking in at nine minutes and forty-six seconds, this featurette discusses the logistics of battle in the late eighteenth century. Again, the video is presented in variable aspect ratios, with interview footage in Full Frame, while footage from the film is shown in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1, without 16x9 Enhancement. The audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, sounding a little cluttered at times with the film's soundtrack, music, and the commentary of various cast and crew members pouring through the same two channels at relatively the same volume.

Photo Galleries

    Selecting this option from the first page of extras takes you to a submenu with ten collections of still images for the viewer's perusal. Although the photo galleries are well-presented, a little annotation would have been a nice inclusion.

Conceptual Art To Film Comparison

    This extra displays a still painting of several key scenes in the film, with navigation controls to skip from scene to scene at the bottom right corner. When the playback icon in the bottom middle of the screen is selected, the finished shot from the film that the conceptual painting represents is played back for comparison. This is an excellent way of presenting this kind of extra, as it really gives a frame of reference for the paintings.

Theatrical and Teaser Trailer

    Both the theatrical trailer and the teaser trailer are presented under their own animated, 16x9 Enhanced sub-menu. Both trailers are presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1, without 16x9 Enhancement, and with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary by Roland Emmerich)

    A collection of seven deleted scenes are presented under their own sub-menu, with optional commentary by the director in Dolby Digital 2.0 as to why the scenes were cut from the final version of the film. Alternatively, one can listen to the Dolby Digital 2.0 production sound. Each scene is presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and they are not 16x9 Enhanced.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    Biographies for Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Joely Richardson, Chris Cooper, Jason Isaacs, writer Robert Rodat, producer Dean Devlin, and director Roland Emmerich are provided under this sub-menu. The biographies are reasonably comprehensive and interesting, as are their accompanying filmographies, but said filmographies are incomplete, and the biographies don't really go into very deep detail. The readability of the biographies would be somewhat compromised on any screen smaller than eighty centimetres.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 and Region 1 versions of this disc appear to be fundamentally identical, with no significant extras or features missing. The Region 1 version of this disc is protected by Region Coding Enhancement, and it appears that the menus on the Region 1 version suffer from some moderate navigational problems. When all is said and done, however, one should probably call this one even. Stick with the local version of the disc for better menus and the superior PAL format.


    The Patriot has been described by more than one reviewer as a sort of Braveheart expansion pack, although I feel it has enough of a story to be considered an epic in its own right. Obviously, the makers couldn't give a toss about historical accuracy or dramatic tension, but if you can do without those things, then the film may warrant more than one viewing.

    The video quality is very good, although it does look like it could have used a few more bits in places.

    The audio quality is also very good, with only the occasional lapse in surround channel usage.

    The extras are comprehensive.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
December 29, 2000 
Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer