And the Oscar Goes to:
Directed by: Mel Gibson
Starring: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, Catherine McCormack, Brendan Gleeson
Directed by an American, mainly starring American (Mel Gibson & Patrick McGoohan), English (Catherine McCormack), Irish (Brendan Gleeson) and French (Sophie Marceau) actors, produced by two Americans (Mel Gibson & Alan Ladd, Jr.) and an Australian (Bruce Davey) and written by an American (Randall Wallace), Braveheart is an adaptation of the First War of Scottish Independence, where William Wallace (Mel Gibson) led the Scots to revolt against the English rule. Bizarrely most of this film isn’t Scottish yet they all came together to tell a very good war story.
The English are led by King Edward I, who forces further rule over Scotland, and the film immediately places him as the villain (and I live in a town with a castle that King Edward I built during his conquest of Wales so I can accept him as the villain), but it does brilliantly portray both the forces of good (William Wallace and the Scottish) and bad (King Edward I and the English) as close to the line in terms of their actions. At points the Scottish appear villainous and the English sympathetic, and this helps create an overall view of the war from an outsiders perspective.
The aesthetics in this film are brilliant: perfectly capturing the Scottish land and the complete contrast from the English lands with more sophisticated buildings. However there are a few times where the camera becomes involved in the film: one scene blood lands on the camera lens and another it moves a sheet out of the way as it’s moving forwards. While this is not uncommon, it happens on a number of occasions and it hampers the ability to suspend disbelief and take this as a film.
The writing I found to be not brilliant, in spite of its Oscar nomination in that category. There’s a lot of shouting in this (from William Wallace, the battle scenes and the gatherings), and some of the remarks made are basic stereotypical of Scotland (such as Wallace claiming the rain is perfect Scottish weather), and it doesn’t come across as clever.
It’s also interesting to note the historical inaccuracies in this film: Princess Isabella of France never slept with William Wallace, nor was she pregnant with his kid, and the deaths at the end do not occur at the same time. These are added for the purpose of a more emotionally impactful scene towards the end but the building up for it did seem out-of-place knowing in hindsight that it’s not true. And seeing William Wallace fighting because an Englishman killed his wife but soon ends up sleeping with Isabella; it almost ruins the romance he had earlier and his reasoning for fighting.
All that being said, though, Braveheart, is still an epic war film with brilliant costumes and locations, very effective fighting scenes and a moving story between good and evil. Everyone in this film is a fine actor, albeit with no one really standing out. It has its faults, but is still a very good movie.
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