When Revolution was released in 1985 it was immediately criticized for, among other things, the inappropriateness of the characters’ accents, which made them sound as if they were in a Brooklyn-based gangster movie rather than a historical drama. In addition, it was filmed largely in England, although it was supposed to be showing events in America. The film was a massive financial flop, for many reasons, chief among them being it isn’t a very good movie.
In the film a fur trapper from New York colony, largely apolitical, returns to York City as it was known, to discover his son has been forcefully taken into the British Army. Joining the army with the intent of protecting and ultimately setting free his son, the trapper finds many examples of tyranny, cruelty, and other undesirable behaviors among those empowered against those not, and gradually comes to believe in the American cause of deposing the British rulers and establishing liberty and freedom for all.
Throughout it is not made apparent that life in the army – in any army – is by necessity a harsher and less free existence than life without, but that is a minor detail.
It is the depiction of the harshness of life, in the army, along the docks, in the poorer parts of the cities, indeed everywhere, which makes this film worthy of mention when discussing films of the revolutionary war. The time of the American Revolution was notably harsh, idyllic living simply did not exist for anyone, and survival was an unending struggle, the success of which often simply came down to luck. Which side chosen politically was of little weight compared to what was needed to stay alive, as this film shows.