Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical drama film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. The story was written for the screen and then as a novel by Randall Wallace. Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England.
The film won five Academy Awards at the 68th Academy Awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director, and was nominated for an additional five.
In the 13th century, after several years of political unrest, Scotland is invaded and conquered by King Edward I of England (known as "Longshanks") (McGoohan).
Young William Wallace witnesses the treachery of Longshanks, survives the death of his father and brother, and is taken abroad by his uncle where he is educated. Years later, Longshanks grants his noblemen land and privileges in Scotland, including Primae Noctis, the right of the lord to take a newly married Scottish woman into his bed on the wedding night. When he returns home, Wallace (Gibson), intending to live peacefully, falls in love with his childhood sweetheart Murron MacClannough (McCormack), and they marry in secret so that she does not have to spend a night in the bed of the English lord.
When an English soldier tries to rape Murron, Wallace fights off several soldiers and the two attempt to flee. But Murron is captured and publicly executed by the village sheriff, who proclaims "an assault on the King's soldiers is the same as an assault on the King himself". In retribution, Wallace and several villagers slaughter the English garrison and execute the sheriff.
Wallace is now compelled to rebel against the English, and as his legend spreads, hundreds of Scots from the surrounding clans join him. Wallace leads his army to victory at the Battle of Stirling, then sacks the city of York. All the while, Wallace seeks the assistance of Robert the Bruce (Macfadyen), son of nobleman Robert the Elder, and a contender for the Scottish crown. Despite his growing admiration for Wallace and his cause, Robert is dominated by his father, who wishes to secure the throne for his son by submitting to the English.
Longshanks, worried by the threat of the rebellion, sends the wife of his son Edward, the French princess Isabella, to try to negotiate with Wallace, hoping that Wallace kills her and the French king declares war on Wallace in revenge. Wallace refuses the bribe sent with Isabella by Longshanks, but after meeting him in person, Isabella becomes enamored with him. Meanwhile, Longshanks prepares an army to invade Scotland.
Warned of the coming invasion by Isabella, Wallace implores the Scottish nobility, who are more concerned with their own welfare, that immediate action is needed to counter the threat, and to take back the country. Leading the English army himself, Longshanks confronts the Scots at the Battle of Falkirk where noblemen Lochlan and Mornay betray Wallace. The Scots lose the battle, Wallace is wounded, and Hamish's father is fatally wounded and dies after the battle. As he charges toward the departing Longshanks on horseback, Wallace is intercepted by one of the king's lancers, who turns out to be Robert the Bruce. Remorseful, Bruce gets Wallace to safety before the English can capture him. Wallace kills Mornay and Lochlan for their betrayal, avoids assassination attempts, and wages a protracted guerrilla war against the English.
Robert the Bruce, intending to join Wallace and commit troops to the war, sets up a meeting with him in Edinburgh where Robert's father has conspired with other nobles to capture and hand over Wallace to the English. Learning of his treachery, the Bruce disowns his father. Following a tryst with Wallace, Isabella exacts revenge on the now terminally ill Longshanks by telling him she is pregnant with Wallace's child, intent on ending Longshank's line and ruling in his son's place.
In London, Wallace is brought before an English magistrate, tried for high treason, and condemned to public torture and beheading. Even after being hanged and mutilated, Wallace refuses to submit to the king by begging for mercy. As cries for mercy come from the watching crowd, the magistrate offers him one final chance. Wallace instead shouts the word "Freedom!" Just before the axe falls, Wallace sees a vision of Murron in the crowd smiling at him.
Years after Wallace's death, Robert the Bruce, now Scotland's king, leads a Scottish army before a ceremonial line of English troops on the fields of Bannockburn where he is to formally accept English rule. As he begins to ride toward the English, the Bruce stops and turns back to his troops. Invoking Wallace's memory, he implores them to fight with him as they did with Wallace. He then leads his army into battle against the stunned English, winning the Scots their freedom.
Mel Gibson as William Wallace
- Patrick McGoohan as King Edward I of England
- Angus Macfadyen as Robert the Bruce
- Brendan Gleeson as Hamish Campbell
- Sophie Marceau as Princess Isabella of France
- Peter Hanly as Prince Edward, Prince of Wales
- Ian Bannen as the elder Robert the Bruce
- James Cosmo as Campbell the Elder
- Catherine McCormack as Murron MacClannough
- David O'Hara as Stephen
- Brian Cox as Argyle Wallace
- James Robinson as young William Wallace
Gibson's production company, Icon Productions had difficulty raising enough money even if he were to star in the film. Warner Bros. was willing to fund the project on the condition that Gibson sign for another Lethal Weapon sequel, which he refused. Paramount Pictures only agreed to American and Canadian distribution of Braveheart after 20th Century Fox partnered for international rights.
While the crew spent six weeks shooting on location in Scotland, the major battle scenes were shot in the Republic of Ireland using members of the Irish Army Reserve as extras. To lower costs, Gibson had the same extras portray both armies. The opposing armies are made up of reservists, up to 1,600 in some scenes, who had been given permission to grow beards and swapped their drab uniforms for medieval garb.
According to Gibson, he was inspired by the big screen epics he had loved as a child, such as Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus and William Wyler's The Big Country.
The film was shot in the anamorphic format with Panavision C- and E-Series lenses.
Gibson toned down the film's battle scenes to avoid an NC-17 rating from the MPAA, with the final version being rated R for "brutal medieval warfare. "
In addition to English being the film's primary language, French, Latin, and Scottish Gaelic are also spoken.
Release and reception
On its opening weekend, Braveheart grossed US$9,938,276 in the United States and $75.6 million in its box office run in the United States and Canada. Worldwide, the movie grossed $210,409,945 and was the 18th highest grossing film of 1995.
Braveheart met with generally positive reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 80% with an average score of 7/10. The film's depiction of the Battle of Stirling Bridge is often considered one of the best movie battles in cinema history.
However, in a 2005 poll by British film magazine Empire, Braveheart was #1 on their list of "The Top 10 Worst Best Pictures". Scottish actor and comedian Billy Connolly infamously dismissed Braveheart as "a piece of pure Australian shite. "
Around the world
The film generated huge interest in Scotland and in Scottish history, not only around the world, but also in Scotland itself. Fans come from all over the world to see the places in Scotland where William Wallace fought for Scottish freedom, and also to the places in Scotland and Ireland to see the locations used in the film. At a Braveheart Convention in 1997, held in Stirling the day after the Scottish Devolution vote and attended by 200 delegates from around the world, Braveheart author Randall Wallace, Seoras Wallace of the Wallace Clan, Scottish historian David Ross and Bl ith n FitzGerald from Ireland gave lectures on various aspects of the film. Several of the actors also attended including James Robinson (Young William), Andrew Weir (Young Hamish), Julie Austin (the young bride) and Mhairi Calvey (Young Murron).
Awards and honors
The movie was nominated for ten Oscars and won five.
Alan Ladd, Jr.
|Best Sound Editing
|Best Original Screenplay
|Best Original Score
|Best Sound Mixing
|Best Film Editing
|Best Costume Design
American Film Institute Lists
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills - #91
AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains:
- William Wallace - Nominated Hero
AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
- "They may take away our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!" - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers - #62
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) - Nominated
- AFI's 10 Top 10 - Nominated Epic Film
Lin Anderson, author of Braveheart: From Hollywood To Holyrood, credits the film with playing a significant role in affecting the Scottish political landscape in the mid to late 1990s.
On November 15, 1996, the Stone of Destiny, which had been captured by King Edward I exactly 700 years previously, was returned to the custody of Scotland by Queen Elizabeth II. It is currently stored in Edinburgh Castle, in the Crown Room along with the Crown Jewels of Scotland. However, the Stone must be returned to Westminster Abbey whenever a new British monarch is crowned, after this the Stone will be returned to Scottish custody.
Tom Church's 'Freedom' statue.
In 1997, a 12-ton sandstone statue depicting Mel Gibson as William Wallace in Braveheart was placed in the car park of the Wallace Monument near Stirling, Scotland. The statue, which was the work of Tom Church, a monumental mason from Brechin, included the word "Braveheart" on Wallace's shield. The installation became the cause of much controversy; one local resident stated that it was wrong to "desecrate the main memorial to Wallace with a lump of crap. " In 1998 the face on the statue was vandalised by someone wielding a hammer. After repairs were made, the statue was encased in a cage every night to prevent further vandalism. This only incited more calls for the statue to be removed as it then appeared that the Gibson/Wallace figure was imprisoned. The statue was described as "among the most loathed pieces of public art in Scotland. " In 2008, the statue was returned to its sculptor to make room for a new visitor centre being built at the foot of the Wallace Monument.
Randall Wallace, the writer of the screenplay, has acknowledged Blind Harry's 15th century epic poem The Acts and Deeds of Sir William Wallace, Knight of Elderslie as a major inspiration for the film. In defending his script, Randall Wallace has said, "Is Blind Harry true? I don't know. I know that it spoke to my heart and that's what matters to me, that it spoke to my heart. " Although some incidents which are not historically accurate are taken from Blind Harry (e. g. the hanging of Scots nobles at the start) there are important aspects of the plot which are based neither on history nor Blind Harry (e. g. Wallace's affair with Princess Isabelle, although this may have been inspired by a play The Wallace by Sydney Goodsir Smith).
Elizabeth Ewan describes Braveheart as a film which "almost totally sacrifices historical accuracy for epic adventure". The "brave heart" refers in Scottish history to that of Robert the Bruce, and an attribution by William Edmondstoune Aytoun, in his poem Heart of Bruce, to Sir James the Good: "Pass thee first, thou dauntless heart, As thou wert wont of yore!", prior to Douglas's demise at the Battle of Teba in Andalusia.
Sharon Krossa notes that the film contains numerous historical errors, beginning with the wearing of belted plaid by Wallace and his men. In that period "no Scots ... wore belted plaids (let alone kilts of any kind). " Moreover, when Highlanders finally did begin wearing the belted plaid, it was not "in the rather bizarre style depicted in the film. " She compares the inaccuracy to "a film about Colonial America showing the colonial men wearing 20th century business suits, but with the jackets worn back-to-front instead of the right way around. " "The events aren't accurate, the dates aren't accurate, the characters aren't accurate, the names aren't accurate, the clothes aren't accurate in short, just about nothing is accurate. " Peter Traquair has referred to Wallace's "farcical representation as a wild and hairy highlander painted with woad (1,000 years too late) running amok in a tartan kilt (500 years too early). "  The belted plaid (feileadh mor) with the baldric (leine) was not introduced until the 16th Century.
In 2009, the film was second on a list of "most historically inaccurate movies" in The Times. In the 2007 humorous non-fictional historiography An Utterly Impartial History of Britain, author John O'Farrell notes that Braveheart could not have been more historically inaccurate, even if a "Plasticine dog" had been inserted in the film and the title changed to William Wallace and Gromit.
Randall Wallace is very vocal about defending his script from historians who have dismissed the film as a Hollywood perversion of actual events. In the DVD audio commentary of Braveheart, Mel Gibson acknowledges many of the historical inaccuracies but defends his choices as director, noting that the way events were portrayed in the film were much more "cinematically compelling" than the historical fact or conventional mythos.
Portrayal of Isabella of France
In the film, prior to the Battle of Falkirk, Wallace is shown having an affair with Isabella of France. She later tells the king that she is pregnant, implying that her son, Edward III, was the product of the affair. In fact, Isabella was three years old and living in France at the time, and Edward III was born seven years after Wallace died.
Portrayal of Robert the Bruce
Mel Gibson as William Wallace wearing woad.
Robert the Bruce did change sides between the Scots loyalists and the English more than once in the earlier stages of the Wars of Scottish Independence, but he never betrayed Wallace directly, and it is unlikely that he fought on the English side at the Battle of Falkirk. Later, the Battle of Bannockburn was not a spontaneous battle, he had already been fighting a guerrilla campaign against the English for eight years.
Portrayal of Prince Edward
The depiction of the Prince of Wales (the future Edward II of England) as an effeminate homosexual drew accusations of homophobia against Gibson. The real Edward II did father five children by two different women, but was also thought to have had sexual affairs with men, not least with Piers Gaveston. Gibson replied that "The fact that King Edward throws this character out a window has nothing to do with him being gay ... He's terrible to his son, to everybody. " Gibson defended his depiction of Prince Edward as weak and ineffectual, saying,
Gibson asserted that the reason that Longshanks kills his son s lover is because the king is a "psychopath". (This is another inaccuracy, as Piers Gaveston lived on into the reign of Edward II.) Gibson expressed bewilderment that some filmgoers would laugh at this murder:
Braveheart has been accused of Anglophobia by some British sources. The film was referred to in The Economist as "xenophobic" and John Sutherland writing in The Guardian stated that, "Braveheart gave full rein to a toxic Anglophobia". According to The Times, MacArthur said "the political effects are truly pernicious. It s a xenophobic film. " The Independent has noted, "The Braveheart phenomenon, a Hollywood-inspired rise in Scottish nationalism, has been linked to a rise in anti-English prejudice".
The soundtrack for Braveheart was composed and conducted by James Horner, and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. The soundtrack, comprising 77 minutes of background music taken from significant scenes in the film, was noticeably successful, and album co-producer Simon Rhodes produced a follow-up soundtrack in 1997 titled More Music from Braveheart. International and French versions of the soundtrack have also been released. Several writers have noted the main theme song's resemblance to an earlier theme song for the 1991 anime series 3x3 Eyes, composed by Kaoru Wada.
- "Main Title" 2:51
- "A Gift of a Thistle" 1:37
- "Wallace Courts Murron" 4:25
- "The Secret Wedding" 6:33
- "Attack on Murron" 3:00
- "Revenge" 6:23
- "Murron's Burial" 2:13
- "Making Plans/Gathering the Clans" 1:52
- "Sons of Scotland" 6:19
- "The Battle of Stirling" 5:57
- "For the Love of a Princess" 4:07
- "Falkirk" 4:04
- "Betrayal & Desolation" 7:48
- "Mornay's Dream" 1:15
- "The Legend Spreads" 1:09
- "The Princess Pleads for Wallace's Life" 3:38
- "'Freedom'/The Execution/Bannockburn" 7:24
- "End Credits" 7:16
More Music from Braveheart (1997)
- "Prologue: 'I Shall Tell You of William Wallace'" [Narration: Robert The Bruce]
- "Outlawed Tunes on Outlawed Pipes"
- "The Royal Wedding" [Narration: Robert The Bruce]
- "'The Trouble with Scotland'" [King Edward The Longshanks]
- "Scottish Wedding Music"
- "Prima Noctes"
- "The Proposal" [William Wallace and Murron]
- "'Scotland Is Free!'" [William Wallace]
- "Point of War/Johnny Cope/Up in the Morning Early"
- "Coversing with the Almighty" [Stephen, William Wallace, Hamish, Campbell]
- "The Road to the Isles/Glendaruel Highlanders/The Old Rustic Bridge by the Mill"
- "'Sons of Scotland!'" [William Wallace]
- "Vision of Murron"
- "'Unite the Clans!'" [William Wallace]
- "The Legend Spreads" [Scottish Highlanders]
- "'Why Do You Help Me?'" [William Wallace And Princess Isabelle]
- "For the Love of a Princess"
- "'Not Every Man Really Lives'" [William Wallace and Princess Isabelle]
- "'The Prisoner Wishes to Say a Word'" [The Executioner and William Wallace]
- "'After the Beheading' [Robert The Bruce]
- "'You Have Bled with Wallace!'" [Robert The Bruce]
- "Warrior Poets" [William Wallace]
- "Scotland the Brave/The Badge of Scotland/The Meeting of the Waters"
- "Leaving Glen Urquhart/The Highland Plaid/Jock Wilson's Ball"
- "Kirkhill/The Argyllshire Gathering/The Braemar Highland Gathering"
Album length: 68:53
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