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Benedict Arnold: Hero Betrayed

USA 2021
produced by
Tom Mercer, Anthony Vertucci, James Kirby Martin (executive), Ray Raymond (executive) for Talon Films
directed by Chris Stearns
starring Martin Sheen (voice), Peter O'Meara, David Bunce, Richard Lounello, John H. Kearney, David M. Rawlin, Jeffery Tew, Jennifer Roe, Megan Savage, Katherine Romans, Michael Konik, Mike Fitzgerald, Charles Oliver, Sean Grocki, Shawn Shaffer, Nan Mullenneaux, Tom Mercer, Eric James, Phillip Lance, Daniel B. Martin, David Sherin, Michael Whitney, Paul Novotny, Nicole Signore, Richard Lundy, Olivia Isopo, William Raymond, Christian Wechgelaer, Connor Grocki, Griffin Corin; interviewees: Carol Berkin, Tom Fleming, Bruce Harris, Don Higginbotham, Mark Lender, James Kirby Martin, Holly Mayer, John Murrin, Charlie Neimeyer, James Nelson, David R. Palmer, Ray Raymond, Eric Schnitzer, Bill Stanley
screenplay by Tom Mercer, Anthony Vertucci, Chris Stearns, based on a book by James Kirby Martin, music by Michael Weeks

documentary

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Without knowing terribly much about the details of the American Revolutionary War, it's probably fair to say that there were not many figures on either side of the conflict as self-contradictory as Benedict Arnold. Stemming from a once rich family fallen from grace and fortune, he worked his way back into money and respectability before the war, and with the war's ourbreak, he was a fierce fighter for American independence, and not only that, he was also a very gifted commander who fought many a heroic campaign by land and by water who often even in defeat managed to hurt the British decisively. And not even grave injuries could deter his resolve. And yet, the same man in 1780 tried to sell West Point, the fort he has only recently been given command by George Washington only recently, to the British - a plot that was fortunately for the American cause found out, forcing Arnold to flee, first to Canada then to London, England.

 

This movie then makes a very comprehensible attempt to explain how these two parts of the narrative fit together: It seems as experienced and versatile as Benedict Arnold was on the battlefield, he just didn't have a hand for politics and thus often trusted the wrong men, failed to form the right alliances, and often just felt (justly or unjustly) passed over for promotion despite his achievments. And all this combined quite simply left him bitter enough to turn his back on the very cause he fought for ...

 

As mentioned above, details of the American Revolutionary War are by and large lost on me (also due to me being a born and bred Austrian of course), but this film is very good at making its point, not only due to the fact that it goes for re-enactment and keeps the talking heads limited, but also because it tells a very clear story with a proper structure and doesn't assume deeper knowledge than one would have, making this a very vivid and even entertaining movie, and one that properly brings it point across.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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