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Braveheart Movie Review

gibson mel william james

1995 – Mel Gibson –

Set in early fourteenth-century Scotland, Braveheart is one of the most powerful movies ever made about resisting oppression and finding freedom, the most precious desire in the heart of man. Sometimes the most unlikely occurrences can begin a chain of events leading to totally unexpected results. Such is the case with Braveheart. In this story, the love of a man for a woman leads to the emancipation of Scotland from British rule.

The undertones of the oppression of British rule are evident from the beginning but are downplayed so that the audience gets a look at the amazing character of William Wallace (Mel Gibson). The premise for the movie is the love between William and Murron (Catherine McCormack). Here the story of freedom also begins. William and Murron are married in secret so he will not have to share his wife with an English nobleman in a hideous ritual called “prima nocta,” in which, on the first night of a marriage, a nobleman sleeps first with the new wife. They conceal their marriage and some of the English soldiers assault Murron. She is saved by William, but later dies at the hand of a nobleman who executes her to bring William out in her defense. Revenging her death, therefore, becomes the driving force of the rebellion that William Wallace then leads.

As with all epics, this one is filled with large emotions, deception, lies, intrigue, grand conflict, personalities larger than life, great men who are too good, and evil ones who are terribly bad. There is the ongoing deception of the English King Edward I, played convincingly and marvelously by Patrick McGoohan, who is always dreaming and scheming to overcome the rebellion by devious methods and using others to meet his ends in one Machiavellian plot after another. Of major interest is the subplot concerning the betrayal and redemption of Robert the Bruce (Angus McFadyen), the rightful King of Scots. He befriends William and then betrays him in battle. Later repenting his part in the betrayal, Robert redeems himself in the end.

The battle scenes are probably the most memorable aspect of the movie, and some of them are as gory and violent as any ever filmed. Other elements of the film—music, cinematography, the epic scale—are often put to the service of making these battle scenes more effective, as when the camera shows us the lines of combatants with their faces painted. The action shots are taken so closely that the we feel in the middle of the fray. These bloody scenes used upwards of 1,700 extras, so many that they had to begin getting into makeup, costume, and battle formation at four a.m. to be ready for an eight a.m. shooting schedule.

Cast: Mel Gibson (William Wallace), Sophie Marceau (Princess Isabelle), Patrick McGoohan (Longshanks—King Edward I), Catherine McCormack (Murron), Angus McFadyen (Robert the Bruce), Brendan Gleeson (Hamish), David O'Hara (Stephen), Ian Bannan (The Leper), James Robinson (Young William), Sean Lawlor (Malcolm Wallace), Sandy Nelson (John Wallace), James Cosmo (Campbell), Sean McGinley (MacClannough), Alan Tall (Elder Stewart), Andrew Weir (Young Hamish), Gerda Stevenson (Mother MacClannough), Mahiri Calvey (Young Murron), Screenwriter: Randall Wallace Cinematographer: John Toll Composer: James Horner Producer: Bruce Davey, Mel Gibson, and Alan Ladd, Jr. for Twentieth Century Fox MPAA Rating: R Running Time: 177 minutes Format: VHS, LV Awards: Academy Awards, 1995: Cinematography, Director (Mel Gibson), Makeup, Picture; Nominations: Costume Design, Editing, Screenplay, Sound, Original Dramatic/Comedy Score (James Horner), British Academy Awards, 1995: Cinematography; Nominations: Director (Mel Gibson), Score (James Horner), Golden Globe Awards, 1996: Director (Mel Gibson); Nominations: Film—Drama, Screenplay, Score (James Horner), MTV Movie Awards, 1996: Best Action Sequence; Nominations: Film, Male Performance (Mel Gibson), Most Desirable Male (Mel Gibson), Writers Guild of America, 1995: Best Original Screenplay, Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, 1995: Director (Mel Gibson) Budget: $72.6M Box Office: $202M (worldwide gross).

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