The Patriot is an action-packed, war movie detailing events during the Revolutionary War. The movie follows Benjamin Martin’s (Mel Gibson) family as the colonies prepare to wage war against their British tyrant. Martin is a peaceful farmer convinced that he should take no part in this war. Yet fate can be cruel as one day a crazy British officer comes to Martin’s house and kills his son. Martin is thrust into a war and begins using guerrilla warfare tactics to kill British soldiers. Two and a half hours of pulse pounding war scenes culminates in a decisive final battle where the colonial militia beat the British, which inevitably leads to the demise of the British.
Specific Links to Course Readings
The whole premise of this project is to change the genre of a movie. “Harry M. Geduid and Ronald Gottesman define genre as a category, kind, or form of film distinguished by subject matter, theme, or techniques (T. Sobchack 1975, p. 1.”) I was able to change the genre of The Patriot by cutting out a lot of the subject matter that would have indicated a war movie. Instead, I focused the subject matter on the funnier sides of the movie that appear every once in a while. Showing Benjamin Martin making a joke about the French rather than Martin cutting up ten British soldiers is a good way to change the subject matter and thus the genre of the film.
In order to change the genre successfully, I tried to not use signs that were pervasive in the original Patriot movie. “Film semiotics, the study of cinematic signs, breaks film down into its constituent parts to identify the atomic building blocks from which the complexity of narrative is constructed (Hunt etal 2010, p. 16).” By this I mean I tried not to use signs that signified war, blood, and death. Instead, I used signs that signified comedic ideas. For instance, the intro part of the trailer shows what seem to be the kids pulling a prank on their dad. I never showed afterwards the letter that said a militia was forming to fight the British, which would not have added to the comedic attitude of the new trailer.
The Patriot or many movies in general, as Michael Rogin described cinema, is history in film. Although fictionalized characters and events are used, the film is a basic history lesson on the birth of our nation. As stated in the previous paragraph, I changed the basic building blocks of the signifiers and changed the movie from an action-packed history lesson to a comedic piece on a family playing pranks on the British.
Rationale for Creative Choices
The biggest decision I had to make was what music to insert into the movie that would help change the genre of the movie. I chose Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones as the first song and Heavy Metal by Sammy Hagar as the second. I needed a light-hearted song in the beginning to create an initial relaxed, carefree mood in the audience. But when the British take a practical joke too seriously and Benjamin Martin wants to take revenge, that is when I turn on Heavy Metal because it changes the overall mood of the audience member to a faster pace feeling.
I decided to use transitions only on the title screens moving into the next clip. My trailer is relatively long and I thought the way the scenes rolled into one another without transitions looked fine.
Frustrations, difficulties, and solutions
One frustration I had was getting the audio and video to sync properly. I used the strategy of exporting the video in AVI format periodically, but it didn’t seem to help. Instead, I unlinked the video and audio and move the audio forward by about one second because the audio was initially lagging behind. It ended up working out just fine.
I also had trouble getting audio from YouTube and using that program to convert it. When I tried to import the audio from the program, it came up with an error message saying that the uncompressed file had failed. Instead, I grabbed music from my iTunes library and emailed the mp3’s to myself in order for me to use them. I moved them onto the desktop and imported them into Premier with no problem.
My biggest frustration was using a movie that was two hours and forty-four minutes long. It was very difficult sifting through all the scenes and picking out the ones that were just right. At some point I was trying to fit too much into my trailer and thus I had to go on a major clean up by cutting out a lot of the scenes that I had. My advice for future students would be to choose a movie that is between one hour and one and a half hours long because it is really difficult working with a movie that is basically three hours long.
- Sobchack, T. (1975) Genre Film: A Classical Experience. University of Utah: Scholastic.
- Hunt, etal (2010) Semiotics. AVA Academia: Scholastic.
- Rogin, Michael (1998) Independence Day, or, How I learned to stop worrying and love the Enola Gay. London: Scholastic.