• JFS the Reviewer

Braveheart 25th Anniversary Review



Background


The movie Braveheart is a historical fiction movie, which came out on May 29th, 1995. The film was written by Randal Wallace, who had written stories for television shows and Braveheart was the first story he wrote for a motion picture. He would go on to write stories such as “the Man in the Iron Man” (which he would direct and produce), “Pear Harbor”, “We Were Soldiers”, and other works. The film was directed and produced by Mel Gibson, which became the second film he directed after “the Man Without a Face” in 1993.


The production company was Icon Productions and the Ladd Company. While it was distributed by Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox. The film had a budget of 65-70 million dollars and made back over 210.4 million dollars in the box office. The film received positive reviews from critics, while also getting negative responses from historians. Due to the many historical inaccuracies throughout the film.


Despite this though, the film ended up being nominated and winning different awards that year, including the Oscars. Being nominated 10 times and winning five Academy Awards.


Story:


The story of the film focuses on William Wallace. A late-13th-century Scottish warrior, who led the Scottish people in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England. The story of the film is 178 minutes or nearly three-hours long, but it goes into a backstory of young William Wallace. From his childhood when he found his father and brother, killed by the English, to him being raised by his uncle, to returning to Scotland, to him marrying his wife in secret, to her death, and soon his rise as the hero. Fighting to give his people their freedom from the English and driving them off his home.


The pacing for the first act is long, but it is meant to develop Wallace and show the audience why the Scottish people hated the English. Establishing English as people who claimed to be civilized, yet they commit barbaric and horrible acts. Like one where if a married Scottish woman is wed then the English noble has a right to sleep with her before the husband, and refusal will mean death.


The story also shows the corruption of the Scottish nobles, who are easy to betray their own for power and for the title, which back then was important. Once we get to the fight scenes, it does pick up the pace and shows how brutal the fighting can be. After the fighting, the pacing does slow down a little, but it doesn’t lose the audience. It keeps the interest going, especially since by the time of the first big battle the audience will like to see Wallace free his people.


Now, again as I explained earlier, this film is filled with historical inaccuracies. All films like these will be filled with them to make the story more adventurous, epic, and keep you hooked on what is going to happen. Despite this though, I believe due to different points of view from other historians that not all that they write is accurate. And there will be disagreements.


However, it doesn’t make the film that it is based on that bad. If it done well and for Braveheart, the story is done well. This is a story about a man who wants to free his home, free its people, and no longer be ruled by a tyrant. It is an entertaining adventure story that will keep you interested from the beginning, middle, and end.


Characters:


Mel Gibson around this time was still a very famous respectful actor, before the…controversial comments he made years ago. His portrayal of William Wallace was well done, while also doing a decent job with his Scottish accent. Granted we have different versions of Wallace, but this version showed he was a good man. Someone who loves his home, his country, his people, and the love of his life.


He also showed to be very smart, cunning and can inspire other people to fight. Mel also did a good job expressing emotions, especially during conflict. A good example of this is when he confronts the man who killed his wife. His expression tells you what he is thinking and what he wants to do. When he fights, he shows a lot of ferocity, aggression, and a crazed look when he is fighting someone.


I don’t have much to complain about his performance and I feel he did a good job with the character. Though, if I had to say it since I think my only problem is his appearance. I mean, couldn’t he have grown a beard or some sort of facial hair? To look a bit like how William Wallace is described to look.


Angus Macfadyen played Robert the Bruce, who would go on to rule Scotland after the war. Angus did a great job portraying Robert, showing that he is someone that Wallace believes is someone he can trust, which conflicts Robert during the film. However, Angus over time shows Robert regrets his actions when he turned on Wallace, how he wants to help Wallace and be like him. A great leader.


My only complaint here is I wish we had more conversation with him and Wallace, while also seeing him give a similar speech and passion as Wallace did near the end of the movie.


Sophie Marceau, who plays Princess Isabella of France and the wife of Edward II. She becomes the new love interest for Wallace, which ends up with her wanting to help Wallace against her husband and his father. Sophie doesn’t play the damsel in distress and shows she is a strong character. How she even stands up to the king and his cruelty against the Scottish people. I also like how the relationship between Isabella and Wallace is build up and you want to see them together by the end of this war.


One scene I enjoyed from Sophie’s performance was when the king was dying, she leans close to him, and tells him his lineage will die with him. She is carrying a child, but not one of his son’s, but rather that of Wallace. By this point in the movie, the king can’t speak up and say anything. So, this secret dies with him and him alone.


This not only is a satisfying scene from Sophie, but also shows how far her character had come in the movie.


The late Patrick Joseph McGoohan, played the king himself Edward Longshanks. His portrayal in the movie shows the king to be a man who is deceiving, cruel, and without mercy. But someone who believes bribing and showing terror will give him victory. Yet against someone like Wallace, this doesn’t work, and it infuriates him.


However, he did a good job portraying this evil role and how smart Longshank is. Even turning Wallace’s allies against him, including Robert the Bruce. It’s a shame he passed away in 2009, but this performance along with past works will live on.


The rest of the characters in the film all did a great job in their role. They seem to have had a good time with their roles, gave it their all, and no one seems to be phoning it in. One of my favorite performances was from David O’Hara, who plays Stephen. A crazed Irishman who came from Ireland to help the Scots against the English, claims its his island, and you can tell he had a lot of fun with his role.


Setting & Music:


The setting for the film was in Scotland, while they shot the major battles in Ireland. The extras used for the film came from the Irish Army Reserve, with Gibson using them for other scenes for both armies. This was a smart move by Gibson in order to lower the cost, while doing a good job showing off the different environments they used in Scotland for the movie. This would explain why after the movie came out there was an increase in tourism, with people visiting the sites where the movie was shot.


The battles used for the movie are also brutal. Not recommended for kids to watch, because of how bloody it got and how it shows people getting killed in horrible ways. Originally, Gibson had to tone down the violence to avoid the film getting hit with an NC-17 (no one 17 and underage admitted, which include children even with adults). So, they were able to tone it down to Rated-R.


The music for the movie was done by James Horner, who ha been involved in such scores like “Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan”, “An American Tail”, “Aliens”, “Glory”, “Titanic”, “Deep Impact”, and well there’s too much to list here, but you get the idea. James Horner’s music used here fits the scenes it is used, especially for the big battles, encouraging, and the ending for the film. The ending score used I want to say is my favorite to listen to, especially how it fits with what is going on. It may not be as epic as the music used by Hans Zimmer music used for the movie “Gladiator”, but it is still enjoyable to listen to.


Sadly, Mr. Horner passed away on June 22, 2015 at the age of 61. He is remembered for his amazing music and how tribute made in his honor.


Final Thoughts:


Braveheart, is an enjoyable film, which you can sit back and enjoy with friends or even with a loved one. It is not a film to be watched by children due to its graphic material. So, I would recommend you don’t show this film to your children. I also wouldn’t recommend watching this if you are writing an essay about William Wallace.


As I stated throughout the review, the film is not 100% historically accurate. It has a lot of historical inaccuracies and I recommend reading up a book or finding a good source material online. However, it is still a fun film to enjoy watching and a big success for Mel Gibson. You know, before he went a little crazy.


I also enjoyed his work on this film, which you can tell he put a lo of work into. While also doing his best to make it entertaining and fun. I will say this was a lot better than his work on “The Passion of the Christ” and “Apocalypto”. I’m just glad he came back with “Hacksaw Ridge”, which is another film I recommend checking out.


So, again. Braveheart, a good film to sit back and enjoy with friends or love ones. Not for kids, so please don’t show them this film until they are older. And it is a film I will enjoy watching again soon.

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