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Braveheart

Braveheart is an epic American motion picture released in 1995 based on the life of William Wallace, a national hero in Scotland. Mel Gibson played Wallace and also directed the film. more...

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Awards

The film won numerous awards including the 1995 Academy Award for:

  • Best Picture
  • Direction, Mel Gibson
  • Best Cinematography
  • Makeup
  • Best Sound Editing

Nominated:

  • Film Editing
  • Costume Design

Box Office

Braveheart is 270th in the largest amount grossed from a film (worldwide). In terms of actual figures, Braveheart's total lifetime gross is:

  • US: $75,609,945
  • Worldwide: $210,409,945

On opening weekend, Braveheart grossed:

  • US: 9,938,276

Historical Accuracy

Braveheart is a work of fiction, which draws inspiration from real historical events. However, due to the intense level of detail in costuming, makeup and special effects, audiences may incorrectly assume that the production is intended to be historically accurate. Some of the "inaccuracies" in Braveheart may be motivated by artistic reasons. The anachronistic kilts worn by the Scots make the rebels more visually distinctive, the incomplete armor and missing helmets allow viewers to recognize the actors, and changes to characters and names make the story easier to follow. Modifications to the sequence of events create dramatic juxtapositions, allowing different lines in the story to appear to occur simultaneously. Some noted critiques include:

  1. Braveheart's plot includes an affair between William Wallace and the Princess Isabelle, based upon Isabella of France. The film implies she is pregnant at the time of Wallace's execution, possibly carrying the future Edward III of England. Historically, the real Isabella was a child of nine still living in France at this time, she never met Wallace, and furthermore, was never a Princess of Wales, as she was married to Edward II after he became king. Also Edward III of England was born in 1312, seven years after Wallace's death; thus it is impossible for Edward III to have been Wallace's son. (Note: this idea may have been derived from the play The Wallace by Sydney Goodsir Smith.)
  2. Gibson was critiqued for his portrayal of Isabella's future husband, Edward II of England. Although most historians agree that Edward was a homosexual, many complained that the film presented demeaning stereotypes toward Edward. In the commentary, Mel Gibson explained he didn't intend to show hate towards anyone portrayed in the film (including the English). It also must be recalled that Mel Gibson did not write the screenplay.
  3. The Battle of Stirling Bridge, the first skirmish in the film, was filmed without a bridge. The actual conflict was more of an ambush of the English as they attempted to cross a river. (It is rumoured that Gibson told a Scottish local the bridge was removed as it got in the way, and the local replied "that's what the English found" .) The film also makes no mention of Andrew de Moray, Wallace's companion-in-arms and a major contributor at this battle. Curiously, the fight shown in the film is more like the Battle of Bannockburn 17 years later, with English cavalry charging Scottish schiltrons and being repulsed.
  4. The film creates the impression that William Wallace invented the Scottish schiltrons and handed out pikes just before the battle. This is completely untrue.
  5. Edward I's second wife, Margaret, whom he married in 1299, is absent from the film, although the span of history covered in the production includes this year. This implies his first wife Eleanor of Castile was his only spouse.
  6. The film shows Irish conscripts switching sides and joining Wallace's forces at the Battle of Falkirk. The Irish forces were hired mercenaries who, from all accounts, fought well for Edward I. The Celtic soldiers who did display some rebellious tendencies were the Welsh, who had been conquered about a decade earlier. Edward I intended to use them as the first wave of attack and essentially as schiltron fodder. They did not take kindly to such intentions, even if they did not actually switch sides.
  7. The film implies that Wallace's rebellion took place against a background of a fairly lengthy English occupation of Scotland. Actually, they had only invaded Scotland the year before (1296) and the mass hanging of Scottish nobles which Wallace witnessed as a boy never happened.
  8. Near the end, the film implies that Bannockburn was a spontaneous battle, started by Bruce upon hearing the news of Wallace's execution. In fact, Bruce had already been fighting a guerrilla campaign against the English for 8 years, and the battle occurred nine years after Wallace's death. The Battle of Methven did take place about a year after Wallace's death, and was a major defeat for Bruce.
  9. The sword carried by Gibson is a 16th century Scottish claymore. While a sword which is claimed to have belonged to Wallace (although this is disputed) exists in Scotland, it is significantly simpler.
  10. There is some controversy about whether the jus prima noctis (also known as the droit de seigneur), the supposed right of a Lord to deflower virgins in his territory, actually existed, but it certainly did not exist in either England or Scotland during this period.
  11. Wallace is reputed to have had a wife named Marian Braidfoot (apparently her name was changed to Murron in the film so audiences would not confuse her with Maid Marian from the Robin Hood stories). She was indeed supposedly killed by the English sheriff of Lanark in May 1297, although it appears this was a reprisal by the English since Wallace was already revolting against them.
  12. Wallace's long-standing hatred for the English may not have been because of his wife's death. According to one legend, it arose from the fact that two English soldiers challenged Wallace over some fish he had caught. The argument escalated into a fight, resulting in Wallace killing the soldiers.
  13. The then-future King Robert the Bruce is described as "Earl of Bruce", but actually, his title before becoming king was Comes (count, mormaer or earl) of Carrick.
  14. Braveheart suggests Wallace supported the Bruce claim to the Scottish throne; however, Wallace supported the Balliol claim while Bruce was convinced of his father's rightful succession.
  15. The reality of William Wallace's capture and execution was far worse than shown in the film.
  16. The movie depicts Robert the Bruce's father (who was also named Robert) as a leper. There is no historical record of this though Bruce himself contracted a disease before his death that has sometimes been alleged to be leprosy.
  17. Bruce did not betray Wallace at Falkirk. He did eventually switch sides but that was a few years later and as a result of a dispute with the Comyns (not depicted in the film) who supported the Balliol claim to the throne. The Scottish war effort collapsed a few years later because of the defeat of their French allies by the Flemish at Courtrai in 1302. Wallace was hunted down when the Scots were forced to surrender in 1305.
  18. In his speech before the battle of Stirling Bridge, Mel Gibson's Wallace alludes to a hundred years of tyranny. Ironically, the 13th century was one of the few centuries when Anglo-Scottish relations were relatively peaceful. This changed after the unexpected death of Alexander III in 1288, when Edward I was asked to resolve the dispute over the Scottish crown. Edward used this opportunity to revive English claims of overlordship.
  19. The film depicts Edward I dying at the same time as Wallace was executed. In fact, Wallace's execution took place in 1305, in Westminster, and King Edward died in 1307, two years later, en route to put down a fresh rebellion of the Scots, led by Robert himself.
  20. The real William Wallace was a tall man, believed to have been between 6 feet, 5 inches to 6 feet, 7 inches in height. Mel Gibson stands approximately 5 feet, 10 inches. However, this inaccuracy is humorously alluded to in the film.

Gibson, in his commentary to the film, admits many of these historical inaccuracies such as prima nocte quite candidly.

Read more at Wikipedia.org


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