Great Warriors Fight for Freedom

Posted: May 10, 2013 by John C. Kwasny, Ph.D. in Action, Drama, True Story
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In honor of the release of The Great Gatsby, this is the second of two posts on the theme of GREATNESS in the movies.  Today, I will use two popular Mel Gibson movies (yes, I love that crazy man) to illustrate how great warriors fight for freedom: Braveheart and The Patriot.  Braveheart is a classic epic and The Patriot pales a bit in comparison–yet they are equally compelling in their stories of personal sacrifice and great tragedy for the cause of freedom. 

braveheartBraveheart (1995) tells the story of the legendary William Wallace, a Scottish rebel who leads an uprising against the cruel English ruler Edward the Longshanks, who wishes to inherit the crown of Scotland for himself. When he was a young boy, William Wallace’s father and brother, along with many others, lost their lives trying to free Scotland. Once he loses another of his loved ones (his secret wife), William Wallace begins his long quest to make Scotland free once and for all.

As a lover of Scotland (spent a wonderful few weeks there in 1985) and Scottish history, this truly an amazing story of the leadership of one man in the quest for freedom.  This film, as well as the classic Sherlock Holmes stories. actually prompted me to write my Scottish Sleuth VBS series for churches (yes, a shameless plug: click here for more).  Even if you somehow missed this film, or are just afraid of men in kilts, you probably have heard someone speak a portion of this classic quote with a poor Scottish accent:

Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!

 These words of Wallace truly sum up the natural human longing for freedom from tyranny and oppression!

PatriotIn the same vein,  The Patriot (2000) is centered on peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin who is driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the American Revolutionary War.  Martin was a supporter of the King and was against revolution, until a sadistic British officer murdered his son.  Unlike William Wallace, Martin is a fictional character loosely based on Frances Marion, also known as the Swamp Fox, who led a rag-tag group of men in ghost-like attacks against the British during the war.  His victories had a big impact on the U.S. gaining its freedom.

As I said, there are many similar themes in these two movies, prompting some critics to call the The Patriot  just a poor-man’s American version of Braveheart.  Both men experienced extreme tragedy in the deaths of a wife for one and a son for the other.  Both men were reluctant to engage in the fight until these tragedies literally dragged them in.  Both men fought with all of their heart and soul for freedom.  Both men inspired others to take up the cause of freedom alongside of them.  In their own ways, William Wallace and Benjamin Martin represent the greatest warriors of all time who almost single-handedly change the course of history.

I know, you regular readers of Reel Thinking already know where I’m heading.  Wallace and Martin are just pale representations of the greatest warrior who ever lived (and still lives), Jesus Christ.  While these men were reluctant participants in their battles for freedom, Jesus willingly came to earth to die for our sins.  While these men helped to bring freedom to their respective nations, Jesus brought spiritual freedom to every nation, tongue, and tribe.  While Wallace and Martin defeated some pretty formidable armies, Jesus alone conquered the armies of the kingdom of darkness that enslave men’s souls.  Jesus is the ultimate freedom-fighter!

When you watch these films, you can’t help but cherish your own freedom.  But as you consider what Jesus did for you on the cross, always grab hold of your true freedom in Christ!  As the Apostle Paul wrote: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore and do not submit to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1).  Our slaveholders are not the British, Longshanks, King George, or any other human–it is our own sin from which we need to be freed.  And when we are free in Christ, we are free indeed!

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