With the lush and gorgeous landscapes of Scotland all around him, William Wallace strides on his horse towards a group of Scottish soldiers awaiting battle with the English. The soldiers start to take note of his presence and stop their bickering, awaiting what Wallace has to say. Delivering one of cinema’s most iconic battle speeches, William Wallace accomplishes what no other Scotsman in his era was able to, uniting the Scots and leading them to a symbolic victory.
Braveheart, a film directed by Mel Gibson himself, takes place in 13th century Scotland and tells the story of one of its most famous and well-known heroes, William Wallace, played to perfection by Gibson. Beginning with his childhood, the film demonstrates how Wallace, in a life filled with triumphs and tragedies, was able to use his unique charisma and charm in his long 30-year quest to fight for Scotland’s freedom from the English despite insurmountable odds.
Since the film’s premiere in 1995, there has been much praise and admiration directed towards Gibson for his portrayal of William Wallace and rightfully so. His performance in this picture is nothing short of excellent and mesmerizing. He does not simply act but he absorbs the role entirely and truly becomes William Wallace. He is so natural and authentic that he easily allows the viewer to relive all the important moments and battles that have shaped Wallace’s personality and character. He is tender when he needs to be but also tough and gritty when called upon, as any true leader would be. One would even go as far as to say that this is Mel Gibson’s best role ever and one that he has not been able to better since. The battle scenes alone are enough to convince you of Gibson’s amazing performance.
Another element of the film that deserves admiration is the level of production design this film achieves. The battle scenes in Braveheart are absolutely awe-inspiring. The realistic costumes, amazing number of extras and even the face paint on the Scottish solders all combine to give the stunning battle scenes a sense of realism and authenticity that only very few other films have been able to reach. A scene that comes to mind where the epicness of the production level is evident is the one where the infantry from both sides run in a mad dash towards each other yearning to get the battle started. It is a scene that is at once poetic and overwhelming in its beauty.
The music selected for the film also greatly contributes to its success. The use of Scottish folklore music in particular is an excellent decision as it automatically and subconsciously allows the viewer to feel right in the middle of the film’s events. In addition, the pulsating and energetic music used during the battle scenes greatly help increase the viewer’s excitement and rush of adrenaline. At the same time, Gibson shows much restraint and does not have music playing in the background of every scene. Instead, he chooses silence in some important scenes of the film, therefore maximizing the effectiveness of those scenes. The entire score of Braveheart is truly a very special and memorable one.
It is quite rare that a film is able to make you go through a whole host of emotions while watching it. Braveheart is one of those films. A mix of excitement, sadness, amazement and astonishment is felt as you watch this magnificent film. It is undeniable that what Mel Gibson has achieved with this film will always be remembered as one of the landmarks in cinema history. It is not just another war film or biopic. It is something much more. Something special to behold and admire for generations to come. A true film classic.
- Mel Gibson (as William Wallace)
2 hours and 57 minutes
Action / Drama / War