Revolutionary War Movies

Sunday, April 17 by Travis Petersen

Despite its prominence in American history, there have been relatively few Revolutionary War movies. Perhaps because World War II and Vietnam are more fresh in our memories, and the Civil War has the added intensity of brother versus brother conflicts and racial issues. Or perhaps because we're friendly with the British again and Revolutionary War movies would have them seen as the bad guys. Who knows. There are a few good examples, though, and here they are: the most prominent Revolutionary War movies.

  1. "1776." A film version of the Broadway musical of the same name, this is a musical comedy leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, with the familiar figures singing songs and making arguments in a funny fashion leading up to the birth of the United States. It's a goofy film, but probably the most famous of all Revolutionary War movies, and a prominent film in American history classes around the country, as it touches on all the major figures in a way kids can remember.
  2. "The Patriot." Mel Gibson helmed this "Braveheart"-esque entry in the canon of Revolutionary War movies. Instead of following the historical record, however, it turns the Revolutionary War into a revenge quest for one man, a peaceful farmer played by Gibson, whose son was murdered by a sadistic British officer. Unlike "1776," this is not one of those revolutionary war movies that'll be shown in many classrooms.
  3. "Johnny Tremain." This Disney film, based upon the popular novel for children, is one of the more family-friendly Revolutionary War movies, with the titular character, a young boy, joining up with the colonial militia to fight against the British and learning lots of life lessons along the way. The film cuts out a lot of the darker aspects of the novel, but keeps the history at the front and center, with real-life characters like Sam Adams making an appearance.
  4. "The Crossing." This TV movie, made for A&E, closes out our list of Revolutionary War movies. It stars veteran actor Jeff Daniels as George Washington in a dramatization of the crossing of the Delaware River and the Battle of Trenton. It is a fairly accurate and dramatic account of those events, perhaps some of the most famous occurrences of the Revolutionary War.