Braveheart – Patriotism, Friendship, Loyalty & Romance
Braveheart is a fictional historical war film set in 13th century Scotland. Mel Gibson plays the central protagonist William Wallace, the leader of the Scots in the War of Scottish Independence. “Mel Gibson is a genius in Braveheart and makes it an epic worth watching.”
The story originates from a poem by Blind Harry The Screenwriter Randall Wallace adapted the story from a poem by Blind Harry for the screen. The screenplay won him an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
The film begins in 1280 after the death of Alexander the Third, who left no heir to the throne. King Edward ‘Longshanks’ conquers Scotland, witnessed by William Wallace.
As a young boy, William Wallace is taken to Europe on a pilgrimage through Europe after his father and brother’s death where he gains an education.
Fast-forward to Wallace as a grown man, who returns to Scotland and marries his childhood friend Murron MacClonnough in secret. When English soldiers attempt to rape Murron, Wallace comes to her rescue. But, she is publicly executed when recaptured.
Wallace seeks revenge and enlists his clan in slaughtering the English garrison in his town and driving the Lanark garrison back to England.
In this time, Longshanks gifts land and status to his noblemen. On learning about Wallace he demands that Prince Edward, his son, stop Wallace in his tracks.
As Wallace and his friend Hamish continue their rebellion against the English, they are joined by hundreds of other clansmen.
Wallace and his army are victorious at the Battle of Stirling, moving on to destroy the city of York before sending the head of Longshanks’ nephew to the King.
Robert the Bruce, son of Robert the Elder, joins Wallace in the rebellion. But, Robert’s father has different plans for his son, expecting him to take the throne by conceding to the English.
Longshanks attempts to use his wife Isabella of France as a decoy when he tries to invade Scotland. His wife visits Wallace to negotiate.
But, a romance sparks when the two meet and so she forewarns Wallace of the impending invasion. In response, Wallace requests Robert the Bruce and his army to confront the Longshanks at Falkirk. But, Wallace is betrayed by two of his own men who are bribed to ride away with the cavalry, leading to Hamish’s father’s death.
When Wallace learns he is further betrayed by Robert the Bruce by fighting alongside Longshanks, he stands up to his father, vowing to never betray Wallace again.
Wallace murders the two traitors and starts a rebellion against the English. Isabella, whom with he has an affair, assists him. A meeting is arranged with Robert the Bruce and Wallace in Edinburgh, but Robert’s father has plotted with others to kidnap Wallace and hand him to the English.
Robert disowns his father, while Isabella tells the dying Longshank that he shall have no heir as she is pregnant with Wallace’s child.
Wallace is tried for high treason in London and sentenced to beheading and torture. Whilst he is publicly hung, drawn, and quartered, he is given the chance to cry, ‘mercy’ in return for a quick death. But, instead, he cries ‘freedom!’
Just as he is about to be decapitated, Wallace envisions Murron smiling at him in the crowd.
The film ends in 1314 when Robert the Bruce is now king. He is at Bannockburn to accept the English rule formally. As he and his men ride towards the ceremonial line of English soldiers, Wallace stops abruptly, turns to his soldiers, and asked that they fight.
In memory of William, Hamish thrusts the point Wallace’s sword into the ground and the men start chanting Wallace’s name before charging into battle. They win and Scotland regains their freedom.
Mel Gibson originally was going to direct Braveheart only and the lead role was to go to Brad Pitt. Alan Ladd Jr the producer had taken the script with him when he left MGM-Pathe Communications. When he first offered the role to Mel Gibson he declined. But, on further thought, the project became more attractive. He eventually agreed to both direct and star in the film.
Braveheart is considered successful. CNN declared the representation of the Battle of Stirling as one of the best screen battles in movie history, although some criticized the film for accuracy.
The film has a strong rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a score of 78% and an average rate of 7.29 out of 10. Metacritic also shows favorable reviews of 68 out of 100.
However, some have suggested that the film is a little too macho as a result of Gibson’s directing and acting style.