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Monday, June 27, 2011

Braveheart - 1995

Edward the Longshanks (Patrick McGoohan) is an English ruler who plans to inherit the crown of Scotland just after Scotland's previous king had died without and heir. William Wallace (Mel Gibson), lost both his brother and father when they fought for Scotland's freedom, and he believes that Scotland should be free from the English invaders that have killed many people from their land. Wallace leads his courageous army to defeat the English, and after some success Wallace attacks the city of York. Longshanks begins to realize that even though Scotland is small they might be able to defeat England, and he sends his daughter-in-law to make a deal, but Wallace only continues his quest to free Scotland.

The first time I saw this I was actually not aware of its success at the Oscars, and I had only heard from a few sources that it was good. Needless to say I was not expecting a great film to come out of this, and that is one of the things that made this film so brilliant for me. The worst thing that can happen to a movie buff is to be expecting something great, and then it turn out to be bad. But my favorite is when I am expecting a decent film, and a masterpiece comes out of it, which is exactly what Braveheart is. Though I was actually surprised to find it number 90 on IMDb's top 250 list. It seems that it is another one of those films that I would compare to Gladiator and The Shawshank Redemption. Both films received critical acclaim, but they also attract a wide variety of audiences, which is not always the case with the Oscar nominees. That is why even though some may feel they aren't some of the greatest all time, the films are still so popular. Braveheart is another one of those films.

Braveheart is inspired by true events, so if you are expecting an accurate tale of the story of William Wallace then you might as well not watch this film at all. While some things about the film were true, in the credits it will actually say that even some of the charcters' names are not their real ones. So even though many people run around talking about how it is a true story, most of it was fiction. Which is what Mel Gibson was going for, so that worked out fine. The story was very intriguing to me, I had always heard of the man named William Wallace, but it wasn't until about one or two years ago that I figured out he was connected to this film. He truly was an incredible character in this movie. One of the better movie characters I have ever seen to be honest. I do not know how accurate the portrayal of Wallace was but, his strong beliefs and how he was willing to do whatever was necessary in order to defend them was a very moving part of the film. Not to mention his inspirational speech was one of my all time favorites in any movie.

For whatever reason this is another ones of those best picture winners that gets a lot of unnecessary hate from the critics. Similar to Crash and Titanic, though I did not love Crash. And The King's Speech very well may have just joined the list, but in my opinion it deserved to win. But the hate on Braveheart I especially don't get. I personally think it deservedly won every Oscar it was given, and I honestly think it should have won more. It did not deserve best writing, that title definitely should have gone to Emma Thompson, but James Horner was absolutely deserving to win best musical score. This is one of my favorite soundtracks in any film ever. It sets the tone for the film perfectly, and most of all it was beautiful.

Mel Gibson received the Oscar for best director, and for good reason too. He may not be the best actor to ever walk this earth, but he did an unbelievable job with the direction. This is nearly a three hour long film, and I can honestly say I was not bored through any of it. It starts with William Wallace as a child, and the audience learns about some of the things that happened to him, and from there we move into the brutal war with Wallace trying to free Scotland. Every scene was important, and every scene was needed. The action scenes were fantastic, maybe filled with violence and blood, but I think it was necessary for Gibson to make this film so violent. It may make some people turn away from the film, but in the end that is the what it was. It was not like it was some Rambo or something, the violence was actually on a more realistic level in this film, which I was okay with.

The performances were actually the weakest part of the film, and that is saying something because they were very good. I am not a huge Mel Gibson fan, he isn't the best actor, but a good one. I just don't really like a lot of his movies, he is a likeable guy, well if you don't know much about his personal life, but many of his movies are stupid in my opinion. However, Braveheart is one of my favorites. I thought he did a good job overall, the accent sounded good and he was a good pick for William Wallace. He really put his heart into the performance, which made it better than many of his others. And for the character he was playing that was needed. I am not saying he deserved an Oscar or anything, but he did a really good job. Patrick McGoohan was also good as Edward the Longshanks. He is not an actor I am particularly familiar with, but usually when I watch one of his films he does a good job. This was no exception.

Overall, Braveheart is a brilliant film. I know right off many people will disagree with my rating, but that is how I saw the film. Braveheart is a modern epic that is not to be missed. The cinematography was amazing, also deserving of the Oscar. This is just a well acted and well written film, and it may pack many bloody action scenes, but everything is very well done. James Horner's musical score is absolutely beautiful, and is one that is very difficult to beat. Some say this never deserved best picture, but for me Braveheart is a masterpiece.

Story: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Direction: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Final Rating: 10/10


  1. This is about as epic as rebellion army films get. It's low on historical accuracy but serves well as a symbol of Scottish pride. Some of my relatives will attest to that.

    This was also one of the first R-rated movies I had ever seen. The battle scenes nearly made me sick to my stomach the first time around. Crazy that Gibson would later push the envelope even further in The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto.

  2. I must admit to liking this. At least Gibson had ago at making something with a serious tone to it. He got slated for it but it isn't a bad film overall but unfortunately many only remember it for the bloodshed.
    It certainly presaged Passion which I like even more than this, and I thought Apocalypto outstanding and a stunning movie on the big screen.
    Pity Gibson has thrown it all away with his boorish behaviour of late.

  3. I really enjoyed reading your review, but being honest, I almost hated this film. The story is great, but it was presented in such a dull and tedious way. It's just my point of view. I struggled through this film. I had to break it into parts and spent the entire day watching, with respites. It's epic, and the Academy love epic films. But it just wasn't my cup of tea.

  4. Ian - Yes, I was not affected by the innacuracies though. True, The Passion of the Christ was one of the most violent films I have seen, but a good one it was. Thanks for the comment Ian.

    Brent - I liked Passion a lot, but not as much as this, and yeah, Gibson has lost it... Thanks for reading!

    Lesya - I guess if it is not for you it is not for you, that's the way the film world works. I expected to do the same, but through the entire 3 hours I was glued to the television. Oh well. Thanks for reading!