Revolutionary War films are a rarity. Good ones are as scarce as hens teeth. All For Liberty is a great one. In the past we have seen story lines that play fast and loose with history and with realism. Not so with All for Liberty.
The film centers around Captain Henry Felder, an upcountry South Carolina patriot who reluctantly takes up arms against the Crown after witnessing abuses in the courts and taxation systems which the Crown refused to address.
South Carolina Governor John Rutledge, convincingly played by Michael Easler, approaches Captain Felder and asks him to organize a militia unit in Orangeburg South Carolina. Despite being far older than the typical soldier Captain Felder does not hesitate to rise to the needs of his conscience saying, “to keep what you want you have to fight for it.” His age does not prevent him from personally taking the field to defend his ideals. The simple patriotic truths about freedom and individual rights spoken by Felder and Rutledge, so often taken for granted in the 21st century, are delivered thoughtfully and credibly.
The war in the south was frequently a civil war where neighbor fought against neighbor. It was not a war of linear formations firing into each others ranks. Rather, it was many small actions which today we might describe as ambushes and skirmishes. The film depicts these very well. As a refreshing change from so many films the rifles and muskets are handled very realistically.
One scene depicts Governor Rutledge asking Captain Felder to draft South Carolina’s articles for separation from the Crown. This pre-dated the Declaration of Independence by several months. Felder reads the articles to his friends and neighbors, some of whom we meet again as the Tory enemy when they take up arms in support of the Crown. A remarkable twist to the character of Captain Henry Felder is that he is portrayed, wonderfully well, by his 6th great-grandson, veteran actor Clarence Felder.
Another interesting element that bears watching is the character of Catherine Felder, the wife of Captain Henry Felder. She is played by Clarence Felder’s actual wife, Chris Weatherhead, who is also the co-writer, director and co-star. Needless to say she is the perfect wife.
The picture is beautifully filmed using sites such as Magnolia Plantation, Drayton Hall, The Old Exchange and Dungeon, Historic Brattonsville, Historic Camden and Old St. Andrews Parish Church in Charleston. The musical score blends very well with a strong 18th century flavor.
There is plenty of realistic action, including an alligator, without being obsessively violent. The military uniforms and accouterments, as well as the civilian clothing, is excellent. Clearly, the great attention to detail has paid off.
The film is intended for all ages and can be enjoyed at various levels. It was created with an emphasis on accurately portraying the 1770’s period which it does very successfully. It is fascinating to see the many instances where one can bridge the gap in time between the revolutionary era and today while watching the film characters making decisions not unlike those confronting the 21st century.
The American Revolution is still feared by oppressors worldwide. The shots fired in the American Revolution continue to echo around the world. Those shots are the sounds of freedom fighters striving for what patriots such as Captain Henry Felder bought for Americans over two hundred years ago. The men and women of the American colonies who were determined to maintain their liberty, and willing to fight and die for it, have much in common with those who do the same in the world of today. The film also conveys the subtle reminder of how easy it is for freedom to be lost through inaction and how it must be defended continuously.
While the film would be enjoyed by all perhaps it touches Americans most deeply as it depicts who we were, who we are, and what it is that we must constantly defend.
All for Liberty has won nine international awards as well as two from the SC Sons of the American Revolution, First Prize in Media from the Lady Washington Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution in Texas and a Dove Foundation Family Seal of Approval for age 12+. It is a high quality production and should be respected.
This excellent film has a bit of everything for everyone. There is history, action, and thoughtful characters as well as a lesson or two in life’s choices. It even has an alligator. Who could ask for more.
The DVD may not be available in the usual places. However, it can be found at:
Watch the trailer here: