Bottom Line: Don’t dismiss this as an interminable, three-hour movie.
“You tell your king that William Wallace will not be ruled…and nor will any Scot while I live.” –Mel Gibson as William Wallace
Directed by: Mel Gibson
Starring: Mel Gibson, Patrick McGoohan, Sophie Marceau
Mel Gibson seems to work best when in the realm of historical epics. If you need proof of this, seek out his leading role in 2000’s THE PATRIOT, set during the American Revolution, or his grossly underrated 2004 project THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, chronicling the last twelve hours of the life of Jesus Christ. He only acted in the former instance, and he produced, wrote, and directed the latter, which proves that as long as he has some involvement with such films, he performs quite well. Gibson combines his quality effort of producing, directing, and acting for BRAVEHEART, the film that ran home triumphantly carrying the 1995 Academy Award for Best Picture. His performance as William Wallace, the 13th century Scottish commoner who dedicated his life to overthrowing English rule, is absolutely stellar. Everything from his flawless accent to his overt display of courage, makes him disappear as an actor and rather transform into his character.
Perhaps the film is just as much a technical achievement, if not more. The film seems to be, at times, a vivid display of the outfits worn in the 13th century and the landscapes of Scotland. In contrast, during the sequences that show off the bloodiest battles imaginable, the cinematography by John Toll (the cinematographer for films films such as THE LAST SAMURAI and last year’s THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU) empowers the mood. Maybe one slight flaw is worth a mention: James Horner’s score. That recurring theme music was nice the first time, but it becomes a headache-inducing nightmare once it is repeated like clockwork.
“The prisoner wishes to say a word.” –David Gant as the Royal Magistrate
“[shouted loud and long] Freedom!” –Mel Gibson as William Wallace
BRAVEHEART is quite a powerful film, and it grows more and more so as it nears closer and closer to the end. There is a definitive example at the very end that really provides a deep atmosphere, made even more rivetingly stalwart by the godsend line, “Freedom!!”; I won’t spoil anything more than that. Though an incontrovertibly phenomenal picture, this film is NOT for anyone with a weak stomach. As goes with just about any epic that has the name Mel Gibson somewhere on it, it should be watched with the expectations of brutal massacre. As goes with any epic that has the name Mel Gibson somewhere on it, it seems a bit underrated, even after coming home with five Oscars.