|Mel Gibson||William Wallace|
|Sophie Marceau||Pricess Isabelle|
|Patrick McGoohan||Longshanks – King Edward I|
|Angus MacFadyen||Robert the Bruce|
|Ian Bannen||The Leper|
|James Robinson||Young William Wallace|
|Sean Lawlor||Malcolm Wallace|
The text below is part of a series of articles originally published May 25th – June 6, 1999.
Braveheart certainly doesn’t meet your initial expectations of a traditional war film. There are no tanks rumbling across dusty plains, or bombers dropping fire from the sky, or mighty ships trading broadside fire. But it certainly qualifies as a great war film in my book. Regardless of theater or historical setting a prerequisite for any good war film is that it possess plenty of conflict and combat. Braveheart serves both of these up by the shovel full, and throws in a little romance and bloody vengeance on top of it.
The story takes place in the 13th century and focuses on a Scottish commoner named William Wallace (Mel Gibson). After his father is killed when he’s a wee laddie, William leaves his home to be raised and educated abroad by his uncle. He later returns and secretly marries the childhood girl who gave him a flower on the day he buries his murdered father. After his new love is slain by an English garrison commander, William begins his vengeance in one of the slickest medieval fight scenes in movies. William puts some hurt on the garrison . . . and remorselessly slits the garrison commanders throat without batting an eye. William then sets about liberating Scotland from the English King, Edward the Longshanks (Patrick McGoohan of The Prisoner fame). Gathering up a piecemeal army, and through many plot twists, he ultimately succeeds in ridding Scotland of English rule.
The violence in this movie is never glorified, but is portrayed in brutally honest way. When Braveheart came out, many of the combat scenes were thought to be too over the top. Reports of people walking out halfway through the movie spread through the media. The violence is justified considering the subject matter. This justification for showing violence is exactly the same reason Saving Private Ryan got away with it: historical accuracy and perspective. In this case violence is perpetuated by swords instead of guns. In that era, death was more personal and intimate, probably making it that much more harrowing and tragic as opposed to killing your enemy at a distance.
This is a great historical piece as well as an action packed war flick. Braveheart was nominated for ten Oscars and won five, including Best Picture, Best Director, Cinematography, Makeup, and Sound Effects Editing. Mel Gibson does an outstanding job starring in, producing, and directing this near three hour epic. Oh, and if you saw The Phantom Menace, there’s even a reference to Braveheart in that movie’s battle scenes. I’ll let you find it! I recommend (as I do with ALL movies) that Braveheart be viewed in widescreen only!
Note: I’m revisiting and re-posting many older articles (almost 200) I’ve written (or contributed to) over the years, either for my own purposes or as contributions to other sites now long digitally decayed and dormant. These reviews/articles will appear in their nearly raw, unaltered form, with a few updated thoughts at the beginning of each.