Digital History

The American Revolution

Why should we care about the American Revolution? Previous Next
Digital History ID 3212



There are certain subjects that rarely succeed at the Hollywood box office. Until the mid-1970s, sports movies always flopped. In recent years, westerns and swashbuckling adventure films have often been box office duds. But one genre has almost always failed. Until the success of the Mel Gibson movie, The Patriot, in 2000, Hollywood had never made a successful movie about the American Revolution.

Altogether, Hollywood has made fewer than a dozen movies that deal more than superficially with the Revolution. These include:

The reasons for the failure of movies about the Revolution seem obvious. Modern-day audiences find it difficult to identify with characters from the late 18th century. They find the characters' powdered wigs, knee breeches, and formal speech patterns off-putting. Further, we live in a cynical age and hate being reminded of more noble times. There is a tendency to regard Revolutionary War movies as excessively patriotic and overly romanticized

Nevertheless, the American Revolution raises issues of enduring interest:

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