STARRING: Mel Gibson, James Robinson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, Angus Macfadyen, Catherine McCormick, Mhairi Calvey, Brendan Gleeson, Andrew Weir, James Cosmo, David O’Hara, Peter Hanly, Ian Bannen, Seán McGinley, Brian Cox, Sean Lawlor, Sandy Nelson, Stephen Billington, John Kavanagh, Alun Armstrong, John Murtagh, Tommy Flanagan, Donal Gibson, Jeanne Marine, Michael Byrne, Malcolm Tierney, Bernard Horsfall, Peter Mullan, Gerard McSorley, Richard Leaf, Mark Lees, Tam White, Jimmy Chisholm and David Gant
EARNED (Worldwide): $210.4m
AWARDS: 5 Oscars (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Makeup), 1 Golden Globe (Best Director) and 3 BAFTAs (Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Sound)
When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, William Wallace begins a revolt and leads Scottish warriors against the cruel English tyrant who rules Scotland with an iron fist.
Braveheart focuses on telling a story about William Wallace, a Scottish rebel who leads an uprising against English ruler King Edward ‘Longshanks’, who invaded and conquered Scotland following the death of Alexander III of Scotland, who left no heir to the throne. Witnessing Longshanks’ treachery from childhood till the point he loses another loved one, this time his wife, he begins a long quest to make Scotland free once and for all.
It’s often ridiculed for how historically inaccurate the film here is, ranging from it being as accurate as the likes of Gladiator to Iron Sky (bit far fetched but you get the picture), Mel Gibson has made no secret about it being heavily fictionalised for the dramatic purposes of the film. To be fair to Mel Gibson despite what you think of him as a person these days, which everyone has an opinion on, he delivered a roaring epic tale of love, teacher and the keyword mentioned throughout – freedom. It tackles more on the myth of William Wallace than being a nailed on history lesson (though I’m sure a few classes will be spent dissecting truth from fiction in many history classes at college) and in terms of dramatic purposes for these changes, cinematically it works on almost every level. The battle scenes constructed are still better than what many may look today due to the overuse of FX to accomplish armies of a few hundred to a thousand men coming together at once in bruising, crushing fashion, no confusion as to what’s happening on screen and no shaky cam style quick edits, just good old fashion blood and brawl direction. The score constructed here throughout by James Horner is, in my personal opinion, the best score that he’s put together, it just soars beautifully and remains timeless in its emotional impact. Not only was his direction solid in the fact that he won an Oscar for it, his performance carries gravitas as William Wallace, thankfully backed by an impressive ensemble of who’s who now upon looking back from the likes of Brendan Gleeson as his oldest friend Hamish, to David O’Hara as Stephen who appears to have one or two screws loose, Angus Macfadyen giving a criminally underrated performance when Braveheart is mentioned, playing Robert the Bruce, to Patrick McGoohan bringing a sinisterly evil performance as Longshanks and a vulnerable and commanding performance from Sophie Marceau as Princess Isabella of France, even though it has historians scratching their heads at.
FAVOURITE SCENE: The battle at Stirling.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: ‘Veteran: Fight? Against that? No! We will run. And we will live.
William Wallace: 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!’
DID YOU KNOW?: In an October 2009 interview with “The Daily Mail”, Mel Gibson admitted that the film was heavily fictitious but claimed the changes had been made for dramatic purposes. He also admitted he had always felt he was at least a decade too old to play Wallace. The extras used for the battle scenes were mostly members of the F.C.A., the Irish version of the territorial army. As they were drawn from many different army companies, and the members of these are usually drawn from the same locality, local rivalry between such companies is common. Apparently, some of the battle scenes seen in the movie are far more realistic than you might imagine, with rival companies actually using the occasion to try the beat the lard out of each other. Many Scots were offended by the film’s portrayal of Robert the Bruce, who is considered a National Hero of Scotland (along with Wallace). Director/producer Mel Gibson was investigated by an animal welfare organization, who were convinced that the fake horses used were real. Only when one of his assistants provided some videotaped footage of the location shooting were they convinced otherwise. The film is often cited as the least accurate historical epic of all time.