At Last, I Sit Through Half of Braveheart

The other night, my husband channel-surfed and landed on Braveheart, which I missed seeing at the time it was released (a) because it wasn’t anything that interested me then and (b) because it came out when I was in law school, a time in which I was blissfully oblivious to all around me but the continuing saga of Blackacre and John Doe’s valiant attempts to preserve it for his male heirs. (Now there’s a movie someone needs to make: Blackacre.)

Once I became interested in the reign of Edward II, however, I did have some interest in seeing Braveheart, though this quickly evaporated when I found out how historically inaccurate it was. Nonetheless, I was curious enough to come into the living room the other night to see the last half of the movie. So here at last, is my report.

I can’t see why the moviemakers bothered creating a love interest between “Princess Isabella” and William Wallace–it didn’t add much to the story except to give Isabella a chance to whisper a spiteful farewell to the dying Edward I about Edward II not being the father of the child she was carrying. She could have done the same thing by whispering, “Longshanks, when I get the chance I’m going to bump your son off the throne, and it’s not going to be pretty.”

Gory as this movie was supposed to be, I thought Mel Gibson stayed remarkably well-groomed during his execution and the prelude to it. When the crowd threw rubbish at him, for instance, it didn’t seem to mar his appearance in the slightest.

My favorite part, however, was the very end, when Robert Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn gives an inspirational message to his troops while the English army facing him patiently wait for the Scots to start the battle. How gentlemanly of them.

Still, I’ll have to admit the whole thing was pretty moving–it made me feel a twinge of Scottish patriotism, even though the only true Scotsman in our family is our cairn terrier. But it would have been a much better movie if all the nonsense had been left out.

10 thoughts on “At Last, I Sit Through Half of Braveheart”

  1. I’m afraid I can’t even think about ‘Braveheart’ without gnashing my teeth! I hate the homophobia in it, and the anti-Englishness too – none of the English characters have any redeeming qualities, and are portrayed as something similar to the Waffen SS, only less amiable. Plus there’s all that nonsense about the (non-existent)prima nocta (sp?), the dates are all wrong, and there definitely hadn’t been a war between England and Scotland for 100 years, as it implies.

  2. I tend to agree with you. I’d guess the spurious love affair was because the producer wanted a love interest and a role for a pretty actress. As Wallace’s wife is part of his motive for revenge she dies very early on, so they had to come up with a second love interest for Mel Gibson.

    Did you see the scenes of the battle at Stirling Bridge where Wallace’s Scots army are all wearing woad face paint? Bernard Cornwell had a little dig at that particular flight of fancy in Heretic.

    The Scots patriotism tugged at me too. I thought it was quite a good film and had some great Highland scenery, but I do hope nobody tries to learn any history from it.

  3. PS – Remember Gabriele’s Rules for Scottish Romance? Apart from the fact that Isabella is French rather than English and I don’t think the Campbells feature, Braveheart does a pretty impressive job of following them 🙂

  4. Susan Higginbotham

    Since I missed the first part of the movie, I suspect I missed most of the anti-Englishness and the homophobic bits. It looked like it did hit the Scottish rules dead on the head, though.

    Boswell, our cairn terrier, really hasn’t been very civil to those of us in the household of English extraction since.

  5. Lol, Carla, that had me giggle.

    And unfortunately, people DO learn their history from such movies. I participated in a Scottish discussion forum where a number of members wouldn’t accept that the Braveheart version was not the real one. Finally, things got so nasty that I left the place.

  6. Susan Higginbotham

    Enjoyed the Scottish Romance Rules, by the way!

    My first introduction to Braveheart, actually, was a summer job I had when one of my co-workers played the soundtrack on her computer at high volume to get in touch with her fiance’s Scottish heritage.

  7. I don’t think that the modern movie audience is ready for a historically correct movie.
    Although I did just see Mary Stuart – with Glenda Jackson and Vanessa Redgrave – and it was stunning. I think they captured Mary’s passin (and stupidity) very well.
    I laughed through most of Braveheart – I confess. Mel Gibson just doesn’t do it for me.

  8. I admit I like to learn history from historical fiction too. It can be a way of getting me interested in a period that I knew little if anything about. So I value historical accuracy very highly. One reason I watch few films is that so many of them are terrible on that front – I didn’t watch the recent King Arthur film because the ‘history’ was so obviously bad. I hope this cavalier approach isn’t going to become a trend in historical fiction; I like to trust the author and I don’t want that trust destroyed.

  9. I only saw a few minutes of the recent ‘King Arthur’ film – and was treated to the sight of Guinevere wearing a top with her boobs hanging out, fighting in some battle. I flicked the ‘off’ switch immediately.
    I think ‘Braveheart’ is a decent film if you take it as pure entertainment, but the problem is a lot of people think it’s historically accurate – a friend of mine from York got sick of all the tourists asking how Wallace managed to sack it!!! And don’t even get started on the ‘Wallace was the father of Isabella’s baby’ thing.

  10. Susan Higginbotham

    I’ll have to find Mary Stuart. I’ve got a video of Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett (sp?) because hubby found it cheap, but I’ve heard bad things about its accuracy.

    I watched all of King Arthur, but only because it was on a transatlantic flight and it beat watching the little plane on the radar screen inch its way across the ocean. I wondered where Guinevere, who had last been seen in a tattered gown, managed to get such form-fitting (if impractical) gear in time for battle. Frederick’s of Hollywood must have had a peddler nearby.

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