Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

Braveheart (1995) – Classic Review

braveheartAh Scotland, poor old Scotland. A land full of history and passion, but a land with so much tragedy and loss attached to it’s name.
Continuing the spree of classics I have not seen in their entirety comes Mel Gibson’s famed directorial piece in which he iconically starred as Scottish historical figure William Wallace; a legend of the nation, responsible for the rebellion against the English in the late 1200’s/ early 1300’s.
Gibson loves a hard-hitting gargantuan epic to undertake from behind the camera. His repertoire includes that of “Apocalypto”, “The Passion of The Christ” and “The Beaver”, just kidding! But none of his pictures have had him act in the lead role apart from his most notable picture for both professions, 1995’s “Braveheart”. 

Having recently returned from the absolutely stunning nation of Scotland, I thought it was only fitting to watch this historical epic and listen to the entire back catalogue of The Proclaimers.
3 hours have passed, and I still need to do one of those things…

fhd995BHT_Mel_Gibson_009Yes, “Braveheart” is a long one, lasting nearly 180 minutes and dragging on piece by piece, emotion after emotion and bagpipe solo after bagpipe solo. But I must say, amongst the solid performances, the exquisite cinematography and the powerfulness of it all, this film is great, but it could have lost at least 30 minutes of runtime.

Set over the turn of the 12th and 13th century, a Scottish rebellion made up of inspired patriots rebel against the tyrannical English forces in order to win their freedom. It follows the execution of William Wallace’s wife, (of whom he had to marry in secret for protective reasons) who defended herself against an English guard attempting to rape her.
Enraged, broken and savage, Wallace rises up with fellow Scot’s and what follows is forever remembered in the history books….not the film…

According to many sources, including a very entertaining and wise Scottish tour guide aboard a bus, “Braveheart” is severely inaccurate in the depiction of historical events. It constantly gets slammed for it’s inaccuracies from several critics and was even voted the second most historically inaccurate film ever produced by The Times in 2009. Does this matter? Of course it doesn’t!

411363If people wanted historical accuracy in their film, they’d watch “William Wallace: The Documentary”. Films cannot be slammed for their historical accuracies too harshly; they’re by no means obligated to abide by historical facts in sacrifice for a better filmic narrative; just look at “Inglourious Basterds” and how well received/popular it became!
As the bus driver put it, “Braveheart. Great film! Historically, it’s complete bullshit, but it’s still a great film.” Hear, hear!

Gibson once again shines in the lead role. Seeing “Braveheart” not too long after watching “Signs” and seeing how outstanding he was in that simply confirmed to me that Gibson, behind all of his insanity, is a world class actor, and a pretty darn decent director at that!
Supporting roles from James Cosmo (a pure Scottish surname…), Brendan Gleeson (getting a wee bit closer…), and even young James Robinson (even closer still…) are fantastic. Let’s not even try with Rupert Vansittart (who incidently plays one, Lord Bottoms).

fhd995bht_mel_gibson_022Robinson, an obviously gifted child star was surprisingly talented in his opening performance. I looked at his career following “Braveheart”, and although he went to other things, it’s a shame he didn’t reach anything of the height I foresaw in him. Either way, I was very impressed!

Overall, as long, as drawn out and as grand as “Braveheart” was, I was entertained almost entirely throughout. If there’s one thing “Braveheart” can show off, it’s the absolutely breathtaking scenery. The endless landscapes of incredible highland mountain ranges, beautiful lochs and luscious greenery are astonishing, especially when captured through a wonderful helicopter shot.
The soundtrack is great, the performances are solid and the action is directed brilliantly. A little less runtime and perhaps some more exploration into certain characters (some became interchangeable) would have improved it for me, but ultimately, it’s just nitpicking.
Upon a re-view, my admiration for the film may grow, but given it’s odyssean length, it won’t be for a long while.



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