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Spike Lee speaks to the BBC's Edward Stourton
"I despise the film"
 real 28k

Friday, 14 July, 2000, 11:43 GMT 12:43 UK
Spike Lee slams Patriot 'disgrace'
Spike Lee
Spike Lee: Angered by the film's depiction of slaves
Film director Spike Lee has told the BBC he thinks Hollywood film The Patriot - attacked for its portrayal of the British - is "a disgrace".

The film-maker, acclaimed for movies such as Summer of Sam, Jungle Fever and Malcolm X said the controversial US War Of Independence Story was "Hollywood propaganda".

Mel Gibson plays war hero Benjamin Martin in the film, which has come under attack for its depiction of the British.

Lee told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the film also ignored native Americans, and downplayed the role of slaves in the war.

"It's not just the slaves pushed into the background, and the natives Americans aren't even thought of, The British are like Nazis in this film," he said.

"You guys should be upset, because the British are portrayed like the Gestapo, like SS stormtroopers - I'd definitely be upset. I despise the film."

Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson: Feels audiences should accept it as just a story
Although films like The Patriot and U-571 have caused uproar in the UK for showing the British in a bad light, Lee said they were merely the latest in "a long line of what's horrible about Hollywood".

"It's been like this since day one. You'd think here we are at the end of the millennium, the start of a new century, and we're doing the same things as we've done in the first 100 years of cinema.

"We're at the mercy of the Hollywood machine - it's mythmaking."

Mel Gibson joined the film's producers in defending the production, saying it was "a film with a bias - told from a point of view".

But Lee called this a "cop-out", saying such a film would not be made about the Holocaust.

"I think it's a very convenient answer.

"How could you do a story about the birth of a nation and push slaves into the background, and not even have one native American into the whole movie?"

The Patriot was expected to dominate the US box office when it was released over Independence Day weekend, but was beaten to the top position by George Clooney's seafaring drama, The Perfect Storm.

British audiences will be able to judge the row for themselves as The Patriot is now on general release in the UK.

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See also:

01 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Hollywood's patriotic battle
02 Jun 00 | UK
Capturing the real U-571
02 May 00 | UK
Hollywood fights the facts
03 Jul 99 | Entertainment
Spike's shocking summer
03 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Clooney wins box office fight
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