Movie of the Week: Braveheart (1995)


Mel Gibson directs himself, Patrick McGoohan and Sophie Marceau in this historical war movie about William Wallace and the medieval Scottish rebellions he led.

“FREEEEEEEEEEEEEE-DOOOOOOOMMM!” A gorgeously satisfying epic. You get a Mad Mel revenge thriller, a gorily ornate re-enactment of the battle of Stirling Bridge, two heartfelt romance subplots, a dry run for the prestige torture porn of The Passion and a beautiful performance by lush, green Ireland as Scotland. The interaction of the rebels has an easy John Ford-ish humour and rhythm, while the romance sequences have a high cranked etherealness that evokes silent movies. Sure, it is a little black and white in its politics; I remember a Christmas Day viewing where my little nanny bellowed “KILL THE ENGLISH!” at the screen. And you wouldn’t want to take it as a source material into a history exam. So this is inaccurate and that is inaccurate. Blah! Blah! Blah! We open up with the bullshit justifying narration “I shall tell you of William Wallace. Historians from England will say I am a liar, but history is written by those who have hanged heroes. ” And it feels emotionally true. That’s what Gibson understands… sometimes we just need to pick a side and follow it (in movies, not life), not question the anachronisms if they signify what they need to. Sure, it makes Braveheart’s rampant nationalism a bit shaky. But if you want to base your patriotism and party politics on a violent rollicker from the star of Lethal Weapon, then you probably should stay well out of political discourse. For those of us who just want a lush star vehicle, full of meaty massive scale barneys, this hits the spot. As John Ford said “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

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