Braveheart Movie Essay, Research Paper
Braveheart film review
Mel Gibson has reached an acting pinnacle, at least so far, with Braveheart. It is an epic
movie that is loosely based on historic events in Scotland. All the performances were great
and the cinematography was superb.
The film covers the life of William Wallace from the time he is a small boy, when
his Father dies, to his own death. The movie is set mostly in 13th Century Scotland, the
story’s backdrop is William Wallace’s struggle against the unjust rule of the English King,
Longshanks, and how he gets almost the entire country of Scotland to back him up in his
struggle for freedom.
After the death of his Father at the hands of the English, William is raised by his
uncle who, being a great believer in education, takes William across the world where he
learns Latin, French and the manly arts of war. Eventually, he returns to his homeland, a
fully mature man, ready to settle down with his childhood sweetheart and raise a family.
The concerns of his countrymen over English rule take second place to his pursuit of the
beautiful Murron, his childhood sweetheart. Due to the half-hearted opposition of
Murron’s Father and the English noble’s rights to take a bride on her wedding night,
Wallace is married in secret. The honeymoon doesn’t last long before their joy is shattered
by the results of an English soldier’s attempted rape of Murron. While Wallace is able to
beat back the soldiers from his wife, she is captured as they flee in separate directions. The
local Lord then decides to bring Wallace into the open by executing his woman in a
particularly brutal scene. She is tied to an upright pole and her throat is cut.
So starts William Wallace’s life long battle against the English to free the people of
Scotland. This common man is able to successfully organize the villagers to overthrow the
local fort and slaughter the lord responsible for the death of his wife. Then, with the help
of an adjacent clan, Wallace goes on to tear down the local Lord’s temporary castle.
Meanwhile King Longshanks is distracted by his war with France and allows his
week son an opportunity to prove himself by bringing Wallace to English justice. The son’s
ineptness soon leads to full scale battle. A situation that requires the support of the
Scottish Lords, an infighting self interested bunch of old men. On the occasion of the first
major battle, Wallace is able to convince three Lords into helping. Through the use of
some brilliant tactics he successfully defeats the English forces and his legend grows to
Wallace’s successes continue often hampered by betrayal from the Scottish Lords
and the treachery of the English King. He finds love again, loses many good friends and
eventually finds peace at the hands of the English interrogators. He is brought before a
court and told to confess to treason. He refuses. He is given the choice to confess and
have a quick and painless death or to die a slow and painful public death. He remains
silent. The next day Wallace is brought out into the public square where he will be
publicly executed. He goes through a series of tortures such as being stretched, and
drawn and quartered. But probably the most graphic torture of all is then he is “gutted”
and the torture won’t stop until he says, “mercy.” He never does and he is beheaded.
The cinematography in this movie is tremendous. The three huge battle scenes are
amazing feats of cinematic genius. There are probably upwards of one thousand extras in
each of these scenes. The camera zooms all the way out for the initial charge of the
armies at one another. When the two armies mesh and the hand to hand combat begins it
zooms in all the way to the point where you can see an arm or a leg being chopped off.
The filming of these battle scenes must have taken outstanding choreography. Mel Gibson
not only did a great job acting in this movie, he also did a fantastic job directing this great
movie. Another great cinematic scene is in the final scene of the movie. When Wallace is
getting tortured. The camera cuts to the people in the crowd as Wallace is being brought
in, and they are throwing things like vegetables at him and yelling at him. As he is being
tortured the camera periodically cuts back to the crowd. It shows them starting to feel
sympathy for him. They even started to chant, “mercy.” This whole scene shows how
William Wallace touched the lives of everyone. They begin to realize what he had
struggled so valiantly for. As he is being “gutted” in the end, he takes the pain with grace,
and the camera zooms in on his face and you can see the pain that he is withholding. In
his final words before he is beheaded he yells out not mercy but, “Freedom.”
The acting in this movie couldn’t have been better. Mel Gibson has his Scottish
accent perfect. He really throws himself into this role. Patrick McGoohan who plays
King Edward I does a spectacular job of playing the evil King who doesn’t care about his
men at all. Angus McFayden who plays the noble Robert the Bruce, had a key role in
portraying Wallace’s best friend and then betraying him. He realized the error of his ways
and in the end leads Scotland to victory and finally freedom.