Braveheart is a historical epic released in 1995, directed by and starred Mel Gibson and was loosely based on the story of 13th-century Scottish leader William Wallace, who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England. The film also stars Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, and Catherine McCormack. It was a surprise winner of the Academy Award for best picture.
After William Wallace’s father and brother are killed in battle against the English, Wallace is sent to continental Europe to be educated. He returns to Scotland as an adult (played by Gibson) and marries his childhood sweetheart, Murron (Catherine McCormack.) When English soldiers try to rape Murron, Wallace saves her but the soldiers make a second attempt and she is captured and executed.
Wallace then leads his clan in slaughtering the English garrison, and he continues to fight to expel the English from Scotland, gaining increasing numbers of followers as stories of his exploits spread.
In this gallant quest for freedom, the gifted strategist and mighty warrior will amass the hordes of the oppressed Scotsmen who thirst to reclaim their independence, however, the road to liberty is drenched in blood.
The 3-hour epic tale has a superb screenplay, terrific performances, cinematography, and editing. We love it even if it isn’t entirely historically accurate. The film revived the epic genre that gave us such good movies during the following years. A special mention to James Horner’s great soundtrack.
Randall Wallace, who wrote the screenplay, has acknowledged Blind Harry’s 15th-century epic poem The Acts and Deeds of Sir William Wallace, Knight of Elderslie as a major inspiration for the film. Blind Harry’s poem is not regarded as historically accurate, and although some incidents in the film that are not historically accurate are taken from Blind Harry, there are also large parts that are based neither on history nor Blind Harry.
The real historical freedom fighter, commemorated in the movie Braveheart, became a symbol of Scottish nationhood after a famous victory over the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. But he was defeated in battle at Falkirk the following year, captured by the English in 1305, and hanged, drawn and quartered, with his head put on public display at London Bridge and his limbs displayed in Scotland.
The “brave heart” refers in Scottish history to that of Robert the Bruce, and an attribution by William Edmondstoune Aytoun, in his poem Heart of Bruce, to Sir James the Good Douglas: “Pass thee first, thou dauntless heart, As thou wert wont of yore!”, prior to Douglas’ demise at the Battle of Teba in Andalusia.