‘Braveheart’ Is A Historical Masterpiece

For years my mother has told me how incredible a movie Braveheart is. She introduced me to Gladiator which turned out to be one of my favorite films of all time. So, I decided last night, to finally watch this Oscar-winning movie starring yours truly; Mel Gibson.

Braveheart is an interesting movie because it doesn’t grip you immediately. We are introduced to William Wallace as a child where the brutalities of the Englishmen are revealed on full display as he views the multiple hangings of some of Scotland’s most prominent figures at the time couple by the loss of his father and brother after a fight. It’s at this moment that the Englishmen are immediately presented as a ruthless enemy and the Scottish as a terribly oppressed people.

SPOILER ALERT! This post contains heavy spoilers and so if you haven’t seen the movie I highly advise you to stop reading now. Thank you for heeding this warning.

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The film then turns on a more romantic turn as the years pass and William Wallace returns to court his old-time lady friend. It seems that times are happy and there is plenty of peace but the English soldiers depicted in the film are a bunch of ruthless, evil, bastards (excuse my language) who think they ruled over everything and everyone.

When one of the soldiers (a truly putrid one at that) attempted to rape Wallace’s secret newlywed wife she fought back and with the help of Wallace tried to get away but she was captured and killed for her discretions against the English. It’s a heartbreaking turn of events that truly makes the film interesting as Wallace sets on a warpath against the English inspired by mere revenge.

The film, after the tragedy, focuses solely on the battle between the Scottish rebellion led by William Wallace and the English army overseen by King Edward Longshanks. There aren’t many more building plot points for this massive section of the movie other than the Princess’s growing desire to be loved and the future Scottish king, Robert the Bruce’s, admiration for Wallace yet seemingly unwavering allegiance to his dying father. It can be a tad bit boring to watch if I’m being honest but there was a moment that truly stood out to me and is probably my favorite part of the movie and that was William Wallace’s speech.

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The rebellious Scottish forces were just about to participate in their first great battle against the Englishmen. The English army outnumbered them and as the occupants of the Scottish army saw their odds turning more and more in the English army’s favor they began to grow dispirited. They were ready to turn tail and leave to go back to their farms when up rides William Wallace, the legend, who had begun the rebellion.

Wallace, seeing his uneasy army, began to proceed in a passionate speech that was so epically amazing that by the end of it I felt like jumping through the television screen and standing alongside him in the fight. It was a powerful moment and one that I won’t forget anytime soon. In fact, I’m giving that speech my very own made-up award for Best Speech Before a War because it was that incredible.

After that, of course, the film continued to display the struggles of the Scots against the English and the story was moving along.

Romance reentered the film as the French princess soon became infatuated with William Wallace who represented everything she admired and respected in a man. She secretly helped him, warning him of top-secret plans enforced by King Edward and it wasn’t long before Wallace started to grow an affection for the beautiful princess. This aspect of the movie I enjoyed but didn’t feel was necessary. Wallace’s relationship with his wife was beautiful and I was emotionally invested. The relationship between him and the French princess felt like an unneeded extra element of romance that only helped in terms of adding a different tone to the film when things were becoming too dour.

The end of the movie, however, the end was what got me.

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After William Wallace was captured and tried and convicted for the highest treason against the English empire he was sentenced to the most painful death he could’ve received at the time. I could only watch in teary-eyed horror as Wallace slowly and very brutally was killed up on that platform in front of the whole town. But, he never gave in. He never begged for mercy and it was beautiful to observe. Gosh, I’m getting teary just thinking about.

His demise was a savage one indeed. In fact, it was one of the most gruesome (if not the most gruesome) that I have ever witnessed in a movie. While he was being disemboweled the sentencer was urging him to plead mercy, along with the townsfolk, but in classic William Wallace fashion he yelled defiantly to the sky, “Freedom!”

I bust out crying at the sight of his strength in the face of certain death. When he saw his dead wife who was waiting for him to join her in the afterlife it was a bittersweet moment indeed. But that was not the end of the story.

The Scottish were set to beg pardon from the English for their transgressions against the English empire but Wallace’s impact was strong. His strength to stand against the English even at the very end inspired his fellow countrymen to fight back and with his spirit behind them, they managed to defeat the English and win their freedom.

I was a wreck. In fact, I’m still a wreck just thinking about it. I’ve cried after watching a lot of movies (I’m a crier) but this film made me cry so hard that I still have a headache. I was crying for Wallace and his unnecessarily barbaric demise. And I was crying for the happy ending that was brought about by Wallace’s inspiring actions. It was an absolutely beautiful conclusion to an amazing film.

My Conclusion of the Film

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Good movies are pretty easy to come by, great movies aren’t. I’ve seen a lot of enjoyable movies in my time. I’ve only seen a few great ones. Braveheart was one of them. This film is VERY long with a runtime of 2 hours and 58 minutes but it is worth every second once you reach the last thirty or so minutes. This movie helped pave the way for other epics such as Gladiator and The Lord of the Rings. Without Braveheart, those films may not exist, for Braveheart set the template in how to make a great movie with fantastical war scenes and an emotional, well-written story.

I enjoyed this movie so much in fact that as soon as it was finished my sister and I proceeded to read about the real William Wallace on Wikipedia where we discovered that much of the content in Braveheart was fabricated to appeal to a wider audience. Such as Wallace’s love life, his father’s standing as a pilgrim when in actuality he was supposedly a king, and the idea that the reinstitution of Prima Nocte was what set into motion the Scottish rebellion. But the most important things were displayed properly in the film such as the battles and Wallace’s grisly death, which was actually watered down from the actual version of what happened to Wallace.

While creative liberties were made to make the movie a little more interesting I still highly appreciated the historical significance of the film and everything that it taught me about the Scottish and their struggles against the English empire.

Sometimes certain movies don’t deserve an Oscar for Best Picture of the Year…Braveheart surely did. This movie is fantastic on all cylinders and I’m so glad I’ve finally seen it.

What would I give this film? 95 out of a 100 and 4.7 out of 5 stars. It’s an absolutely incredible movie but the massive middle section is a bit of a drag to watch and so I can’t give it a perfect score. But if you’ve never seen this movie I HIGHLY advise you to watch it. It’s a GREAT film.

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a beautiful day.

 

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