popular films, The Patriot and Glory to discuss and evaluate leadership illustrations. The writer focuses on the leadership qualities in each film. The writer then explores the differences and similarities between the two especially when it comes to leadership. There were six sources used to complete this paper.
Most movie goers will agree that the silver screen productions that they go to view have a theme. The theme may be obvious and blatant, or the theme can be nothing more than an undertone that runs through the storyline. The themes are not always evidenced immediately, but are savored only after one has been able to enjoy the film and digest its more obvious elements and truths. Two popular movies provide a theme of leadership. Leadership is a broad-based topic of discussion in many arenas today, as it is possible to display and recognize leadership in many different ways. Leadership is a trait that some people seem to be born with while others learn it as they come through the ranks of life. The movies Glory and The Patriot both provide front row seats to the topic of war. The movies each portray fight scenes, choosing sides and other elements that are typical of war. They also allow the viewer to see multiple facets of leadership. As the viewer watches the two movies the viewer will notice that there are many similarities in the way leadership is shown in each of the stories, while there are also undeniable differences. It is the differences more than the similarities that outline and strengthen the concept of leadership and its meaning in each of the two films.
Whether or not movies can teach history is a debate that has raged since the film industry's infancy. "In 1995, Richard Bernstein wrote a piece for the New York Times entitled "Can Movies Teach History?" Noting that "more people are getting their history, or what they think is history, from the movies these days than from the standard history books," he then asked, does "the filmmaker, like the novelist, have license to use the material of history selectively and partially in the goal of entertaining, creating a good dramatic product, even forging what is the sometime called the poetic truth, a truth truer than the literal truth?" In other words, "does it matter if the details are wrong if the underlying meaning of events is accurate (The Patriot and Glory http://www.ashbrook.org/publicat/oped/owens/00/patriot.html)?"
In Glory the topic of leadership is centered around the existence of racism and what goes along with it. The movie is based in the all black regiment in the Civil War. At first glance one will assume that the question of leadership is founded in the fact that Robert Shaw begins to climb the ranks, when in civilian life he would be relegated to the position of servant or slave. The fact that he is a leader in the regiment, is secondary to the fact that he is a leader to a black regiment in the Civil War, which was heavily involved in the decision to abolish slavery.
The attitude changes that are witnessed throughout the course of the movie storyline provides a strong message to the viewer about the leadership within the movie.
The attitude towards blacks were confronted head on by the characters and the events of this movie. The leadership is not only seen in the actions of Shaw in leading the black men to victories and protecting them during crisis, but also about the attitudes of the black men themselves who were fighting to protect a nation that considered them equal to dogs.
This was illustrated in several areas of the movie including the advise on how to deal with the racism being encountered on the field of war.
Having been repulsed repeatedly by the slaves, one of the Scythians admonishes his fellows to set aside their weapons and take up horsewhips. "As long as they are used to seeing us with arms, they think that they are our equals and that their fathers are likewise our equals. Let them see us with whips instead of arms, and they will learn that they are our slaves; and, once they have realized that, they will not stand their ground against us (The Patriot and Glory http://www.ashbrook.org/publicat/oped/owens/00/patriot.html)."
The leadership of the regiment was constantly fraught with years of attitude toward the very men protecting those with the beliefs. The southerners at the time believed that black people were born to serve. The movie characters were supposed to shed that life and acceptance of that attitude, and become a lean fighting machine.
At the time of the Civil War, most Southerners believed that blacks were naturally servile. But there was doubt about their manly spirit in the North as well. In the movie, a reporter from Harper's Monthly says to Matthew Broderick's Col. Shaw, "will they fight? A million readers want to know." To which Shaw replies, "a million and one," illustrating the fact that in 1863, even elite New England abolitionists had their doubts about the manliness of blacks (The Patriot and Glory http://www.ashbrook.org/publicat/oped/owens/00/patriot.html)."
By inaccurately depicting the 54th as a regiment of former slaves, Glory reveals the deeper truth that blacks in general were not the natural slaves that Southerners believed them to be and that abolitionists feared that they might be. "Who asks now in doubt and derision, 'Will the Negro fight?'" observed one abolitionist after the assault of the 54th against Battery Wagner. "The answer is spoken from the cannon's mouth...it comes to us from...those graves beneath Fort Wagner's walls, which the American people will never forget (The Patriot and Glory http://www.ashbrook.org/publicat/oped/owens/00/patriot.html)."
In the movies called the Patriot there was an entirely different portrayal of leadership. In this movie the character of Mel Gibson did not support the war, though his son wanted to go.
The deeper truth of this movie was well stated by David Horowitz. The Patriot, he writes, "reassembles the elements of the national myth into a powerful homage to liberty and to the American colonists who gave their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to its cause." The Revolutionary generation, after all, fought not only for its own freedom but also for that of all the generations to follow (The Patriot and Glory http://www.ashbrook.org/publicat/oped/owens/00/patriot.html)."
Another interesting point of leadership within these two movies is the fact that they are both about men who do not initially believe in what they are called to do. While this is not at first obvious it will become so with a second examination. In the movie Glory Shaw is not at first enthralled with having to lead a regiment of black soldiers. He has to deal with the attitude not only of those above him but also with the attitudes of the black soldiers themselves. He has to eventually face his own demons and prejudices so that he can be the best leader possible. This is something that also happens with the movie the Patriot. The lead character, played by Mel Gibson, has no initial desire to support the war. His enthusiasm or lack of it is significantly similar to the lack of enthusiasm shown by Shaw in Glory. Gibson is against the idea of fighting the war, and Shaw is against the idea of having to lead black men into battle.
As the movies continue to unfold one will note that the attitudes of the leaders themselves begin to change. In the Glory movie the attitude of Shaw changes through the observance of the things that happen both on the battle field and in the barracks. Many elements of life with the regiment begin to show Shaw the error of his earlier attitudes. Even when he has a positive feeling about the work he is called to do he has to wrestle with a lifetime of messages that he and others endured regarding the motivations and ambitions of black men. In a similar fashion the character played by Mel Gibson has to come to grips with some of the beliefs he has held onto for a very long time. Becoming part of the war was not something he was willing to do until his son insisted on joining.
Both of these stories center in the belief that leadership qualities were born of necessity.
The character played by Gibson becomes a leader in the desire to save his son. Until his son wanted to go to war Gibson had no desire to entertain the idea of being a soldier. Shaw, in Glory, also didn't become a great leader until he needed to be one.
The loss of his son prompts Gibson's character to join the fight. "He's reluctant to fight because of what he did as a younger man, in the French and Indian War some 15 to 20 years previous. Though he's tormented by his vicious deeds during that violent period, he came out a hero to other men, who continue to "buy him drinks" when…