Braveheart

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.

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17 thoughts on “Braveheart

  1. I can separate Mel Gibson The Man from Mel Gibson The Actor so I still enjoy his films. He’s coming out with Get the Gringo this summer. It’s being released theatrically throughout the world, but here in the U.S. it will only available as an On-Demand cable choice. Interesting.

    • Yeah, that is interesting. I do enjoy Mel Gibson, and as soon as he comes on screen, I seem to immediately forget all he’s done as an alcoholic, racist, sexist, homophobia…et cetera. He’s probably my number one or two on my list of filmmakers I DON’T want to meet. It’s weird how such great people among the artistic spectra have outside lives that are questionable.

    • Hmm, that’s tricky. There’s more to it than Mel Gibson, just as every film has something beyond acting, which is the historical value. I found it especially excellent because I had no background knowledge whatsoever of William Wallace (like I’d heard his name before, but had no clue who he was), and it was neat to gain some knowledge in a way that was so anti-textbook and anti-Wikipedia. It’s not like his Passion of the Christ, a film that seems more like an informational textbook-esque filming of the Bible. But if you don’t care for the subject matter, then you probably shouldn’t see it. On the other hand, it did clean up at the 1995 Academy Awards, with the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director, among others.

    • If you enjoy historical epics Fernando, it’s well worth seeing. Gibson is exactly my pick of the bunch either but there’s no denying he’s done a brilliant job on this. Give it a go, you might be surprised.

    • Yeah, it certainly doesn’t have the cinemagic James Cameron puts on his films where you can sit down forever and it’ll feel like only an hour. But it really delivers emotion and conveys an overwhelming amount of power. Above all, it entertains so heavily!

  2. Good review. Being Scottish myself, I have a real soft spot for this movie. Either that or I’m completely biased. I really care though, it’s still a rousing film that had a big impact in Scotland on it’s release. Scottish people were reminded of how proud they should be in their history. (all-be-it this played around with many historical facts).

    • When I went to post my review on Flixster, I noticed your review, which stated it was historically inaccurate. I have to wonder where, and since you’re Scottish, I was wondering if you could spot me out some of the historical inaccuracies of the film? Really interested to know.

      • There’s quite few. For a start Wallace did not get together with the French queen and impregnate her… The battle of Stirling was actually fought on a bridge but the Scots did win while being vastly outnumbered… Robert the Bruce was not a traitor either, he was actually in France at this time but did lead the Scots to more victories as it eludes to towards at end. These are just a few and some dramatic license was taken with others but it’s still a marvellous piece of entertainment and reignited the passion back in Scotland to point where Scots will soon be voting on a referendum where we will be voting to split from England and become known as a separate country outwith Britain. Most Scots hate the fact that we are classed as British. As a side note, there is an actual monument in Stirling called the “Wallace Monument” where you can visit and oversee the battlefields where he fought. Outside the monument is a sculpture and the face of the sculpture has been crafted in a way that resembles Mel Gibson. I could go on forever he’s a fascinating historical figure. You should maybe check out “Rob Roy” also. He’s another.

        • Wow. I didn’t know there were that many historical missteps. After seeing this and Amadeus, I have to assume that the Academy doesn’t really care for historical value, just entertainment value. Thank you for those factoids. And yes, I will try to see Rob Roy.

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