Newest Review: ... the Scottish out of Scotland(no evidence suggests that this law was ever in place, it does make for good dramatic effect in the film t... more
Great Piece of Fiction About a Historical Figure
Member Name: mikeb2102
Advantages: Fantastically scripted, amazingly shot, great battle scenes
Disadvantages: Littered with historical inaccuracies, Mel Gibsons, laughable at times Scottish accent
If you ask anyone from Scotland to name a national hero, the first name that would probably come to mind would be William Wallace and the second would probably be Robert the Bruce. These two men have done more to preserve Scotland as a nation than any other.
Braveheart is a film starring & directed by Mel Gibson(Mad Max, Lethal Weapon), it is about the life of the Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace and The Scottish battles to gain independence from English rule.
The film starts in 1280, The King of Scots Alexander III has died leaving no heirs to the throne, and King Edward I of England(Played amazingly by the late Patrick McGoohan) decided to claim the throne for himself. We are introduced to William Wallace as a boy, we hear of his father being mortally wounded in battle against the English. After the death of his father, Wallace is taken overseas by his uncle to be educated. Upon his return to Scotland, Wallace(now played by Mel Gibson with a bit of a dodgy Scottish accent), falls in love with his childhood sweetheart and they marry in secret, as King Edward had granted Primae Noctis; a law granting Englishmen privileges with the bride on the wedding night with the hope to breed the Scottish out of Scotland(no evidence suggests that this law was ever in place, it does make for good dramatic effect in the film though). We first see Wallace fight with the English after a soldier tries to rape his new wife, to teach Wallace a lesson she is put to death. To avenge his wife's death, Wallace gathers a band of villagers and they attack the local garrison and kill the sheriff. King Edward I orders his son to sort out the Scots problem and by the time The English and Scots met at The Battle of Stirling Bridge(Fantastic battle scene), Wallace already had a large army behind him(This is where we hear the immortal line "They may take our life's, but they'll never take....our FREEEEEEEEEDOM!"). Wallace and the Scots win the battle and in the aftermath they head south and invade England to the dismay of the Scottish noblemen, notably Robert the Bruce's father who wants his son to be king of Scotland by submitting to King Edward. King Edward sends his sons wife, Princess Isabella(Sophie Marceau) to bribe Wallace, which he refuses. This refusal sends King Edward into a rage and he gathers an army and the Scots and English meet for the second time at The Battle of Falkirk, this time though it is the English who come out on top as the Scottish noblemen desert the battlefield leaving Wallace's army with no chance against the English archers. After the battle Robert the Bruce(Angus Macfadyen) arranges to meet with Wallace in Edinburgh where the Scottish noblemen had conspired to capture Wallace and hand him over to the English. Wallace is then taken to London to be executed(hung drawn and quartered) where before the final axe falls, he shouts " FREEEEEEEEEDOM!" one final time. In the next scene we see Robert the Bruce, nine years later, lining up his men at The Battle of Bannockburn for a battle in which the Scots won.
As a patriotic Scotsman, I was delighted when this film came out, I could not wait to see it and when I did, I absolutely loved it, it is a fantastic film. The film instilled a patriotic belief at a time when Scotland were again striving to gain independence.
It was only after watching the film that I looked more into the history of the man who is heralded as Scotland's national hero. I even started to make comparisons with what we know historically and what was depicted in the film and my conclusion is that, this isn't a historical portrayal by any stretch of the term, but rather a fictional tale with a spattering of history. We know very little about Wallace's life, so to make it into a film full of historical fact would have been very difficult, what I disagree with though, is the playing with the historical facts that we do actually know. This film misses out some of the key moments in his life like; The Battle of Stirling Bridge scene having the main element "The Bridge" omitted from the film altogether, when the actual story of the battle would have made a great scene. Apparently when Mel Gibson was asked by a local why the Battle of Stirling Bridge was filmed on an open plain, Gibson answered that "The bridge got in the way" to which the local responded with "Aye, that's what the English found").
The long spears(chiltrons) the Scots used in the Battle of Stirling Bridge were not actually used until The Battle of Falkirk. The love story that built up around Wallace and Princess Isabella, who would have only been around 8 years old at the time didn't happen. The way in which Wallace was captured, King Edward I dying as Wallace was being executed(he didn't die for another 3 years), there are lots more but I'm not going to spend the whole review discussing them. I just think that the main ones that I have covered should have been corrected for the film. If you decide to watch this film I suggest you watch it for what it is; a great film, nothing more, nothing less.
Summary: Fantastic film about the life of Scotlands National Hero