Braveheart is an Epic film from 1995, starring and directed by Mel Gibson, narrates the life of Scottish hero William Wallace.
The blockbuster, which won five Oscars, including Best Picture, tells the story of William Wallace, the greatest hero in Scottish history.
In this article we’ll cover:
William Wallace is a Scottish rebel, leader of a group of Scots who opposed King Edward I of England who wanted to take over the crown of Scotland and the country, taking advantage of the fact that the last king had no heirs.
In his childhood he witnessed the loss of his father and brother at the hands of the English, so he passed to the guardianship of his uncle Argyle, who took him abroad to have a good education.
Years later he returns to Scotland with the intention of living in peace but King Longshanks hardens his oppression by reestablishing the Ius primae noctis (the right of pernulation), so he secretly married his beloved Murron MacClannough, who is killed by the Sheriff of Lanark because she and Wallace confronted the English who tried to rape her.
This made Wallace even more determined to fight against the English to free Scotland from the French yoke that brought so much suffering to his people.
His intelligence and his courage make his ranks fill up quickly with volunteers like his childhood friend Hamish Campbell and the charismatic Irishman Stephen the Mad, allowing the Scots to give the English humiliating defeats like the one at Stirling.
For his results Wallace is appointed Guardian of Scotland by the nobles of his country, but he is aware of their disunity, most of whom were bought off by King Longshanks.
The nobleman Robert Bruce, heir to the throne of Scotland, is torn between the advice of his leper father to make a pact with England and his desire to follow in Wallace’s footsteps.
Aware that the enemy would return, he invades the north of England and conquers York. Finding an unexpected ally in the wife of the effeminate Prince of Wales, Princess Elizabeth, whom the tyrant had sent to negotiate to buy time, she sides with him and the two have an intense romance.
King Longshanks sends all his troops to confront Wallace, including other Irish troops and troops from France.
Thanks to Princess Elizabeth’s lady-in-waiting, Wallace learns of the movement of enemy troops and meets with the nobles, who wish to make a pact with Longshanks, Wallace gets Robert Bruce’s word that the nobles will fight.
At the Battle of Falkirk, the English King sends the Irish against Wallace and his troops, but the Irish join the Scots.
The Scottish troops, now with the Irish on their side, charge against the enemy infantry and an intense battle ensues, but when Wallace looks behind him he notices that the nobles are fleeing with their troops.
Then, Longshanks orders to shoot his archers although he knows that they will also hit his own troops, the rain decimates both Scots and English and the tyrannical English king orders his reinforcements to attack, and retreats, giving the battle as won, Wallace himself is wounded in the chest by an arrow.
But the Scottish hero takes his horse and rushes in pursuit of the English, a knight fights with him and manages to knock him down.
When he approaches Wallace lying on the ground, apparently unconscious, he manages to unmask him, when he realizes that it is Robert Bruce himself.
Wallace and his followers reorganize. The nobles who betrayed him at Falkirk die by his hand, becoming a feared legend to them.
He is now more dangerous than ever to the English, still knowing that without the support of the nobility it was very difficult to achieve total victory against his enemies.
That is why he risks to meet them in Edinburgh, at the request of Bruce who really wants to take his side.
However, Wallace is betrayed by the nobles and is captured by the English, which causes great despair for Bruce who blames his dastardly dying father, and the hero Wallace is taken to London, the capital of England, where he is brutally tortured on the charge of high treason. He is finally decapitated after shouting FREEDOM!!!.
His sacrifice was not in vain. Edward I of England dies and is succeeded by the weak and effeminate Edward II.
Years later Robert Bruce is king of Scotland, but he must render vassalage to the English monarch, instead Bruce decides to fight and encourages his soldiers saying “you have bled with Wallace, bleed now with me”.
He defeats at the Battle of Bannockburn (1314) an English army superior in numbers. Scotland is now free.
25 Curiosities About Braveheart
- Although the film is centered in Scotland, most of the filming was done in Dublin, Ireland. Even more than 1,600 Irish army soldiers appear in the film as extras.
- Most of the horses used in the battle scenes were actually 200-pound structures that were propelled by nitrogen cylinders at 50 kilometers per hour. In other words, they were fakes. However, Gibson was investigated by an animal protection organization that was convinced that the fake horses were real.
- About 40 of Wallace’s descendants appear throughout the film, especially in the opening battles and always close to Wallace.
- Donal Gibson, Mel’s brother and also an actor, appears in the film as one of the clan leaders who join William Wallace in the middle of the film.
- Despite being based on historical characters, a significant percentage of the film is fiction, for dramatic storytelling purposes.
- In real life, the nickname “Braveheart” refers to King Robert I of Scotland (played in the film by Angus Macfadyen), and not to William Wallace. In addition, it is worth mentioning that the portrayal of the monarch, also known as Robert the Bruce, in the film as Wallace’s traitor offended many Scots, as he is considered a national hero.
- The film’s screenwriter Randall Wallace wrote the script after a trip to Scotland he took to explore his own roots and identity. He has no family connection to the film’s hero and protagonist, William Wallace, but was inspired by the rebel’s life story when he saw a statue of the character in the city of Edinburgh.
- The screenplay is based on an epic poem about the exploits of William Wallace, called “Blind Harry”. The poem is inspired by Wallace’s legends, and is full of exaggerations and facts that historians have attributed to different people.
- When Paramount Pictures asked Gibson if he wanted to star in the film in addition to directing, Gibson was hesitant, feeling that at 38 he was too old to play a historical figure in his 20s.
- When the actors showed up for casting, Gibson didn’t have them read their lines, but sat down to tea with them.
- The Scots consider King Robert I of Scotland a national hero as well as Wallace, and for this reason they did not like the characterization of the king in “Braveheart”.
- Sean Connery was almost part of the cast. The actor turned down the role of King Robert I, due to the fact that he was in the middle of filming “Just Cause” (1995).
- Gibson filmed in some parts of Scotland, but the movie was mainly shot in the city of Dublin, Ireland.
- The warriors who appear as extras in the battles were soldiers of the Irish army. To save money, these same soldiers played both sides – the English and the Scottish – and simply changed their attire.
- The Battle of Stirling, the most important battle in the film, was shot in six weeks, ending with 90 hours of shooting for the sequence.
- In the film the hero is depicted as a poor farmer, but historians believe that Wallace was a member of the nobility and the son of a landowner.
- In the film Wallace becomes a rebel leader after the murder of his wife, but there is no historical evidence that the “right of the first night” (Ius primae noctis), where feudal lords raped the virgin brides of their serfs, was practiced in the UK.
- Edward II played by Peter Hanly was depicted as gay in Gibson’s film. But historians suggest otherwise, Edward fathered five children by two different women.
- Gay rights activists protested outside movie theaters because of the stereotypical portrayal of gay people in the character of Edward II. They also found the scene where Edward is thrown out of the window gratuitous, calling the director a homophobe.
- The film caused a boom in tourism in Scotland, especially to the battlefields featured in the film.
- After writing this screenplay, Randall Wallace went on to become a Hollywood success. He wrote and directed Gibson’s “The Man in the Iron Mask”, “We Were Soldiers” and “Heaven is for Real”. He also wrote the screenplay for “Pearl Harbor”.
- Donal Gibson, the director’s brother, is one of the clan leaders who joins Scottish rebel William Wallace midway through the film.
- According to Sony emails leaked by Wikileaks, the studio has developed a sequel to “Braveheart” called “Lion Rampant”, which would focus on “Robert the Bruce”, where Tom Hiddleston would supposedly be the protagonist, while Sophie Marceau and Brendan Gleeson (Hamish) could reprise their roles from the original film.
- It is speculated that he married Marion Cornelia Braidfort of Lamington, who bore William a daughter, named Elizabeth. She was born in Eiderslie, Scotland, in 1295 and died in 1320. She married Sir William Baillie. She had two sons, William and Richard.
- Almost all the information that has been collected comes from Blind Harry’s book on Wallace’s life, written in 1470, that is, two hundred years after Wallace’s birth.
Is Braveheart historically accurate?
Why did Braveheart paint his face blue?
Did Scotland ever defeat England?
Did William Wallace have a child?