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Braveheart is a 1995 Academy-award winning action-drama film produced and directed by Mel Gibson, who also starred in the title role. The film was written for screen and then novelized by Randall Wallace. Gibson portrays the legendary Scot, William Wallace, who gained recognition when he came to the forefront of the First War of Scottish Independence by opposing Edward I of England, also known as Edward the Longshanks, (portrayed by Patrick McGoohan) and subsequently abetted by Edward's daughter-in-law Princess Isabelle (played by Sophie Marceau) and a claimant to the Scottish throne, Robert the Bruce (played by Angus Macfadyen).

The film won 5 Academy Awards at the 68th Academy Awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director, and had been nominated for an additional five. The film was produced by Icon Productions for Paramount Pictures.

Plot

In 1280 King Edward I of England, known as "Longshanks", has occupied much of southern Scotlandmarker, and his oppressive rule there leads to the deaths of William Wallace's father and brother. Years later, after Wallace has been raised abroad by his uncle, the Scots continue to live under the iron fist of Longshanks' cruel laws. Wallace returns, intent on living as a farmer and avoiding involvement in the ongoing "troubles." Wallace rekindles a romance with his childhood friend Murron after showing her the carefully preserved thistle she gave him as a child, and the two marry in secret to avoid the primae noctis decree the King has set forth. Later, Murron is caught by an Englishman who attempts to rape her, when she fights back, the man slaps her across the face. Wallace saves her and believes she has escaped the scene. However, the village sheriff captures her and publicly cuts Murron's throat. In retribution, an enraged Wallace, with the assistance of his fellow villagers, slaughters the English garrison. He cuts the sheriff's throat on the same post and with the same dagger that killed Murron.

Knowing that the local English lord will retaliate, Wallace and his men enter his castle dressed in English uniforms and burn it down. In response to Wallace's exploits, the commoners of Scotland rise in revolt against England. As his legend spreads, hundreds of Scots from the surrounding clans volunteer to join Wallace's militia. Wallace leads his army through a series of successful battles against the English, including the Battle of Stirling Bridgemarker and the sack of the city of Yorkmarker. However, two Scottish nobles, who plan on submitting to Edward, betray Wallace, who is defeated at the Battle of Falkirkmarker.

Wallace goes into hiding, fighting a guerrilla war against English forces, and personally murders the two Scottish nobles who betrayed him at Falkirk. Meanwhile, Princess Isabelle of France, whose husband Prince Edward (Longshanks's son and heir) ignores her, meets with Wallace as the English king's emissary. Having heard of him beforehand and after meeting him in person, she becomes enamored with him and secretly assists him in his fight. Eventually, she and Wallace share a tryst, in which she becomes pregnant.

Still believing there is some good in the nobility of his country, Wallace eventually agrees to meet with the young Robert the Bruce, son of the leper noble Robert the Bruce and the chief contender for the Scottish crown, in Edinburghmarker. However, he is caught in a trap set by the elder Bruce and other nobles, beaten unconscious, and handed over to the English crown. Learning of his father's doings, the younger Bruce disowns him forever.

In London, Wallace is brought before the English magistrates and tried for high treason. He denies the charges, declaring that he had never accepted Edward as his King. The court responds by sentencing him to be "purified by pain." After the sentencing, a shaken Wallace prays for strength during the upcoming torture, but clandestinely rejects a painkiller brought to him by Isabelle. Afterwards, she goes to her husband and father-in-law, begging them to show mercy, but they refuse: she retaliates by tormenting the terminally ill King with the knowledge she is pregnant with Wallace's child. The torture takes place in a Londonmarker square, where he is hanged, racked, and disemboweled. The magistrate offers him a quick death in exchange for a plea for mercy. Awed by Wallace's courage, the Londoners watching the execution begin to yell for mercy to be given. William signals to the magistrate that he wishes to speak. Using the last strength in his body, he cries, "Freedom!" and turns his head, seeing an image of Murron in the crowd smiling at him as he is beheaded.

Some time later, Robert the Bruce takes control of the remaining Scottish army and faces a ceremonial line of English troops at the fields of Bannockburnmarker. Robert the Bruce will win the crown of Scotland if he gives in to the English forces and forfeits. Instead he invokes Wallace's memory and cheering his name, Robert the Bruce and the Scots charge the stunned English lines and win their freedom.

The final iconic scene is Hamish throwing Wallace's sword onto the battle field before they charge, and the last line "They fought like warrior poets, they fought like Scotsman, and won their freedom."

Production

Mel Gibson originally said that he himself was too old to play the role of William Wallace and wished instead to cast actor Jason Patric. However, Gibson's company Icon Productions had difficulty raising enough money even if he were to star in the film. Warner Bros. was willing to fund the project on the condition that Gibson sign for another Lethal Weapon sequel, which he refused. Paramount Pictures only agreed to domestic distribution of Braveheart after Fox Studios partnered for international rights.

While the crew spent six weeks shooting on location in Scotland, the major battle scenes were shot in Irelandmarker using members of the Irish Army Reserve as extras. The opposing armies are made up of reservists, up to 1,600 in some scenes, who had been given permission to grow beards and swapped their drab uniforms for medieval garb.

According to Gibson, he was inspired by the big screen epics he had loved as a child, such as Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus and William Wyler's The Big Country.

Gibson toned down the film's battle scenes to avoid an NC-17 rating from the MPAA.

Cast

  • Mel Gibson as William Wallace. After his wife is killed by the English, he starts an uprising demanding justice that leads to a war for independence.
  • Patrick McGoohan as King Edward I of England. Nicknamed "Longshanks" for his height over 6 feet, the King of England is determined to ruthlessly put down the Scottish threat and ensure his kingdom's sovereignty.
  • Angus Macfadyen as Robert the Bruce. Son of the elder Bruce and claimant to the throne of Scotland, he is inspired by Wallace's dedication and bravery.
  • Brendan Gleeson as Hamish Campbell. Wallace's childhood friend and captain in Wallace's army, he is often short-sighted and thinks with his fists.
  • Sophie Marceau as Princess Isabelle.
  • Peter Hanly as Prince Edward. The son of King Edward and husband of Princess Isabelle through arranged marriage.
  • Ian Bannen as Robert the Bruce, Sr.. Unable to seek the throne personally due to his disfiguring leprosy, he pragmatically schemes to put his son on the throne of Scotland.
  • James Cosmo as Campbell the Elder. The father of Hamish Campbell and captain in Wallace's army.
  • Catherine McCormack as Murron MacClannough, the executed wife of Wallace. Her name was changed from Marion Braidfute in the script so as to not be confused with the Maid Marian of Robin Hood note.
  • David O'Hara as Stephen. An Irish recruit among Wallace's army, he endears himself to Wallace with his humor, which may or may not be insanity. He professes to be the most wanted man on "his" island, and claims to speak to God personally. He becomes Wallace's protector, saving his life several times.
  • Brian Cox as Argyle. After the death of Wallace's father and brother, Argyle takes Wallace as a child into his care, promising to teach the boy how to use a sword after he learns to use his head. Cox also had a role in another period Scottish film, Rob Roy, which was released the same year.
  • James Robinson II as young William Wallace. The 10-year old actor reportedly spent weeks trying to copy Gibson's mannerisms for the film.


Reception

Box office

On its opening weekend, Braveheart grossed US$9,938,276 in the United States and $75.6 million in its entire domestic box office run. Worldwide, Braveheart grossed over $210 million and was the 18th highest grossing film of 1995.

The film's depiction of the Battle of Stirling Bridgemarker is often considered one of the greatest movie battles in cinema history.

The film generated huge interest in Scotland and in Scottish history, not only around the world, but also in Scotland itself. Fans come from all over the world to see the places in Scotland where William Wallace fought for Scottish freedom, and also to the places in Scotland and Ireland to see the locations used in the film. At a Braveheart Convention in 1997, held in Stirling the day after the Scottish Devolution vote and attended by 200 delegates from around the world, Braveheart author Randall Wallace, Seoras Wallace of the Wallace Clan, Scottish historian David Ross and Bláithín FitzGerald from Ireland gave lectures on various aspects of the film. Several of the actors also attended including James Robinson (Young William), Andrew Weir (Young Hamish), Julie Austin (the young bride) and Mhairi Calvey (Young Murron).

Academy Awards

The movie was nominated for 10 Oscars and won 5. The awards it won are marked with an asterisk. (*)

Cultural effects

The film is credited by Lin Anderson, author of Braveheart: From Hollywood To Holyrood as having played a significant role in affecting the Scottish political landscape in the mid to late 1990s.

Wallace Monument

In 1997 a statue of Gibson as "William Wallace" was placed outside the Wallace Monumentmarker near Stirlingmarker, Scotlandmarker. The statue, which includes the word "Braveheart" on Wallace's shield, the work of sculptor Tom Church, was the cause of much controversy and one local resident stated that it was wrong to "desecrate the main memorial to Wallace with a lump of crap". In 1998 the statue was vandalised by someone who smashed the face in with a hammer. After repairs were made, the statue was encased in a cage at night to prevent further vandalism. This only incited more calls for the statue to be removed as it then appeared that the Gibson/Wallace figure is imprisoned. The statue was removed from the site in 2008 to make way for a new restaurant and reception to the visitors' centre.

Criticism

Accusations of anti-gay depictions

The depiction of Prince Edward as an effeminate homosexual in the film drew accusations of 'homophobia' against Gibson. Gibson defended his depiction of Prince Edward as weak and ineffectual, saying,
“'I'm just trying to respond to history.
You can cite other examples – Alexander the Great, for example, who conquered the entire world, was also a homosexual.
But this story isn't about Alexander the Great.
It's about Edward II.”
Gibson asserted that the reason the king killed his son’s lover was because the king was a “psychopath,” and he expressed bewilderment that some audience members would laugh at this murder:
"We cut a scene out, unfortunately .
.
. where you really got to know that character (Edward II) and to understand his plight and his pain.
.
.
.
But it just stopped the film in the first act so much that you thought, 'When's this story going to start?'"


It is strongly debated whether Edward II, who fathered at least five children, was gay or bisexual. Some have criticized Braveheart for its portrayal of the Prince of Wales as weak and effeminate and for the scene in which Edward I throws his son’s male lover out of the window.

Anglophobia

Braveheart has been accused of Anglophobia. The film was referred in The Economist as "xenophobic" and John Sutherland writing in the Guardian stated that, "Braveheart gave full rein to a toxic Anglophobia". Colin MacArthur, author of Brigadoon, Braveheart and the Scots: Distortions of Scotland in Hollywood Cinema calls it "a f***in’ atrocious film" and writes that a worrying aspect of the film is its appeal to "(neo-) fascist groups and the attendant psyche. According to The Times, MacArthur said "the political effects are truly pernicious. It’s a xenophobic film." The Independent has noted, "The Braveheart phenomenon, a Hollywood-inspired rise in Scottish nationalism, has been linked to a rise in anti-English prejudice".

Historical inaccuracies



Historian Elizabeth Ewan describes Braveheart as a film which "almost totally sacrifices historical accuracy for epic adventure".

Historian Sharon Krossa notes that the film contains numerous historical errors, beginning with the wearing of belted plaid by Wallace and his men. She points out that in the period in question, "... no Scots ... wore belted plaids (let alone kilts of any kind)." Moreover, when highlanders finally did begin wearing the belted plaid, it was not "in the rather bizarre style depicted in the film." She compares the inaccuracy to "... a film about Colonial America showing the colonial men wearing 20th century business suits, but with the jackets worn back-to-front instead of the right way around." She remarks "The events aren't accurate, the dates aren't accurate, the characters aren't accurate, the names aren't accurate, the clothes aren't accurate -- in short, just about nothing is accurate"

Historian Alex von Tunzelmann writing in The Guardian noted several historical inaccuracies: William Wallace never met Isabelle, as she married the Prince of Wales three years after Wallace's death; in the film the Battle of Stirling Bridge didn't include Stirling Bridge itself (or any bridge); and the primae noctis decree was never used by King Edward. (in fact, there is little historical evidence that primae noctis existed in the first place). In 2009 the film was second on a list of "most historically inaccurate movies" in The Times.

Screenwriter Randall Wallace is very vocal about defending his script from historians who have dismissed the film as a Hollywood perversion of actual events. Admitting that Braveheart is based more on Blind Harry's poem than any historical source, he has said: "Is Blind Harry true? I don't know. I know that it spoke to my heart and that's what matters to me, that it spoke to my heart."

In the 2007 humorous non-fictional historiography An Utterly Impartial History of Britain, author John O'Farrell notes that Braveheart could not have been more historically inaccurate, even if a "Plasticine dog" had been inserted in the film and the title changed to William Wallace and Gromit, referencing the popular series of British short films titled Wallace and Gromit.

In the DVD audio commentary of Braveheart, director Mel Gibson acknowledges many of the historical inaccuracies but defends his choices as director, noting that the way events were portrayed in the film were much more "cinematically compelling" than the historical and/or mythical fact.

Soundtrack

The soundtrack for Braveheart was composed and conducted by James Horner, and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. The soundtrack, comprised of 77 minutes of background music taken from significant scenes in the film, was noticeably successful, and Horner produced a follow-up soundtrack in 1997 titled More Music from Braveheart. International and French versions of the soundtrack have also been released.

Braveheart (1995)

  1. Main Title (2:51)
  2. A Gift of a Thistle (1:37)
  3. Wallace Courts Murron (4:25)
  4. The Secret Wedding (6:33)
  5. Attack on Murron (3:00)
  6. Revenge (6:23)
  7. Murron’s Burial (2:13)
  8. Making Plans/ Gathering the Clans (1:52)
  9. “Sons of Scotland” (6:19)
  10. The Battle of Stirling (5:57)
  11. For the Love of a Princess (4:07)
  12. Falkirk (4:04)
  13. Betrayal & Desolation (7:48)
  14. Mornay’s Dream (1:15)
  15. The Legend Spreads (1:09)
  16. The Princess Pleads for Wallace’s Life (3:38)
  17. “Freedom”/The Execution/ Bannockburn (7:24)
  18. End Credits (7:16)


More Music from Braveheart (1997)

The follow-up soundtrack features dialogue taken from the actual film, while the original soundtrack was purely an instrumental recording.
  1. Prologue/ "I Shall Tell You of William…" (dialogue-Robert the Bruce) (3:35)
  2. Outlawed Tunes on Outlawed Bag Pipes (2:03)
  3. The Royal Wedding (dialogue-Robert the Bruce) (2:12)
  4. "The Trouble with Scotland" (dialogue-King Edward the Longshanks) (0:40)
  5. Scottish Wedding Music (1:14)
  6. Prima Noctum (1:46)
  7. The Proposal (dialogue-Wallace and Murron) (1:35)
  8. "Scotland Is Free!" (dialogue-Wallace) (0:17)
  9. Point of War/JonnyCope/Up in the Morning Early (traditional) (2:59)
  10. Conversing with the Almighty (dialogue-various) (1:20)
  11. The Road to the Isles/ Grendaural Highlanders/ The Old Rustic Bridge by the Hill (traditional) (3:52)
  12. "Son of Scotland!" (dialogue-Wallace) (12:09)
  13. Vision of Murron (1:45)
  14. "Unite the Clans!" (dialogue-Wallace) (0:23)
  15. The Legend Spreads (dialogue-Storytellers) (1:07)
  16. "Why Do You Help Me?" (dialogue-Wallace and Princess Isabelle) (0:37)
  17. For the Love of a Princess (previously released score) (4:05)
  18. "Not Every man Really Lives" (dialogue-Wallace and Isabelle)
  19. "The Prisoner wishes to Say a Word (dialogue-The Executioner and Wallace) (3:43)
  20. "After the Beheading" (dialogue-Robert the Bruce) (1:48)
  21. "You Have Bled for Wallace!" (dialogue-Robert the Bruce) (1:22)
  22. Warrior Poets (dialogue-Wallace) (0:29)
  23. Scotland the Brave (traditional) (2:47)
  24. Leaving Glenurquhart (traditional) (3:32)
  25. Kirkhill (traditional) (4:08)


References

External links




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