American Revolution Movies

Thursday, April 21 by Honora James

American Revolution movies depict the blood, treasure, and personal sacrifice that gave birth to the United States of America. Some American Revolution movies place emphasis on the personal sacrifice of individuals, while others place emphasis on the war of conscience for those who struggled with divided loyalties between their former homeland, Great Britain, and their new country. 

  1. “American Patriot.” There are two stories running parallel to each other in this movie; the colonist fighting a war for independence from Great Britain, and a war between the two main characters; Benjamin Martin, a widowed colonial farmer raising seven children, and Colonel William Tavington, the leader of a British unit called the Green Dragoons. The year and setting for the movie is 1776 in South Carolina, and there are many graphic war scenes, and for that reason the move is rated R.
  2. “Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor.” This movie is a case in point why both sides of a story should be heard before judgments are made. The name Benedict Arnold immediately conjures up the epithet, traitor, but as the story unfolds the audience is shown an officer in the Continental Army who is courageous, unselfish and loyal to his Commander George Washington. But, for the love of a woman, perceived or real injustices committed against him by others, Arnold seeks command of the fort at West Point, New York, for the sole purpose of surrendering it to the British Army. After the duplicitous plot, Arnold returns to England and is commissioned into the British Army as a brigadier general.
  3. “The Howards of Virginia.” In the Virginia colony during the 1700s, two families from different spheres are united by marriage; Jane Peyton, the daughter of privilege, and Matt Howard a poor young man from the backwoods of Virginia. Over the protestations of his wife’s family, Howard takes his young bride back to his original rural environs. Life is hard for the growing family, and Howard’s political career takes off. But when the American Revolutionary war breaks out, Howard joins the colonists to fight against the British. While on the battlefield, Howard and his estranged son, Peyton, meet and peace is restored between the father and son. 
  4. “Johnny Tremain.” In the backdrop of 1773, anger is growing among the Boston colonists toward the British for their overbearing governing, but for Johnny Tremain, his consuming interest is his silversmith apprenticeship. Tremain’s aspirations undergo a drastic change when his path crosses that of the Sons of Liberty, among whom are Dr. Joseph Warren Paul Revere, and Samuel Adams. Johnny Tremain joins the Sons of Liberty in their fight for independence from British tyranny.  
  5. “Drums Along the Mohawk.” Leaving the life of comfort and ease of her home in Albany, New York, Lana Borst sets out for Mohawk Valley territory with her new husband, Gilbert Martin, in the memorable year of 1776. The couple settles into their home, but after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the couple and other colonists have to contend with hostile Indian attacks and war with the British.
  6. “Sons of Liberty.” Only the most diligent American Revolution history scholar knows the contribution of Haym Salomon to the success of the American Revolution. Salomon was one of the principal financiers of the colonists' fight for freedom. 

American Revolution movies are not just fare for the celebration of Independence Day and the Constitution, but a year round cinematic record of the vision, promise and fulfillment of both.

- Patricia Smith