By Marc S. Sanders
Mel Gibson’s Braveheart is a barbaric film. It’s barbaric in its nature, its violence and its characters. It’s also a magnificent piece of moviemaking.
It’s incredible how Gibson can depict himself in violent battle sequences swinging his sword and tumbling over enemy extras while directing the film. Braveheart is truly one of the best films to be directed and produced by its lead actor.
In the 13th century, King Edward Longshanks keeps a firm rule of British monarchy over Scotland. He finds the Scottish to be unruly and out of order. Taxes alone will not keep them at bay. So he declares it noble to have any Englishman bed a newly Scottish bride before her husband has the opportunity. Therefore, to avoid this experience, William Wallace (Gibson) marries his true love Murron (Catherine McCormick) in secret from the British Empire.
Following the escape from rape by an English captain, Murron is taken, with her throat slit to draw out Wallace. From that point on, Wallace never puts down his sword as he begins the Scottish uprising for freedom from British rule.
Braveheart is not a complex film and we’ve seen films like this before with swords and shields over wide open battlegrounds. However, the construction of Gibson’s film is outstanding. The extras that make up the British and Scottish armies are dense with breadth. The battle scenes are bloody and fierce with axes, swords, bows & arrows and burning tar.
It’s also a moving piece as Wallace remains steadfast with drive to deliver freedom for his people. It’s not so much a character arc for Wallace. He only changes once Murron is killed from wanting to remain peaceful to war torn and strategic in his attacks.
Instead, a good arc comes from Angus McFayden as Robert The Bruce, a confused Scottish nobleman who allies with William but whose judgement is clouded by his aging father. McFayden gives some brief voiceover narration. His character delivers a few surprises as Wallace continues to do damage to Longshanks’ territorial control.
Patrick McGoohan plays Longshanks and he’s another good villain in a long line of English antagonists. He’s determined to keep his rule and bloodline intact despite his gay, weakling for a son whom he forces into wedlock with the princess of France, Isabella (Sophie Marceau).
There’s a lot of dynamics to Braveheart. Battle scenes of blood and gore with burning flames and garish makeup are the main attraction. However, Gibson’s film offers up conflicts of interest found in Randall Wallace’s script. Romance between William and Marron as well as the rich history that led to Scotland’s independence and the almighty power of England and its conceit that would lead to the country’s defeat against a man’s will to lead his brute army to something greater which they never envisioned.
Braveheart is good entertainment.