"Braveheart" is a very good film despite serious flaws. The
cinematography, costumes, and direction is excellent and
generally overcomes problems with plot and character development.
"Braveheart" takes place in Scotland, during the Dark Ages.
Scotland is repressed by England, led by brutal King Longshanks.
William Wallace (Mel Gibson), a Scot commoner, avenges the
death of his father, grandfather, wife, etc. the hands of
the British by leading the Scots in a war for freedom.
There may be some spoilers in the following paragraphs.
Historical accuracy in epics is not always important to
a film's quality. Any film that is not a documentary should
be considered fiction, anyway. However, if history is to
be rewritten for the sake of simplification (Scots are
just and good, Brits are cynical and bad) or drama (Longshanks'
son is gay, and Wallace beds the Princess of Wales) it should
at least be credible.
I thought that there was excessive violence in the film.
There are endless spearings, stabbings, beatings, etc.
"Braveheart" appears to be both pro-violence and pro-war.
Wallace is invincible in hand-to-hand conflict, killing at
least a dozen Brits, including several after an arrow
has punctured his chest.
To justify the carnage, the British king is depicted as
evil incarnate, needing only to shoot lightning out of
his fingers to match the wickedness of the emperor in
the Star Wars films.
I didn't like the character of Longshanks son. He is so
homosexual that he can't kiss his gorgeous bride at his
wedding. His hair and clothes are sissy. He has a lover
who is pushed off a tower by Longshanks, and no doubt
the audience is expected to applaud this gesture.
Surely Hollywood should be beyond such depiction by now.
In a three hour film, I counted four women who have lines.
Two of the characters are very minor, the other two are
very beautiful women, one of whom is Wallace's wife, while
the other bears his child. In the world of "Braveheart",
women only serve to supplement Wallace's manhood.
Despite these annoying flaws, I still believe that
"Braveheart" is a very good film. The major redemption
comes from the cinematography. The forests, valleys are
villages of Scotland are filmed in panning shots to full
advantage. The costumes are great, and Gibson's direction
(the aforementioned problems can be blamed on the story)
is also excellent. The length of the film and its slow
pace also help, since it broadens the characters and
builds the dramatic tension.
Copyright © 1995 Brian Koller