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Braveheart (1995)

Men don’t follow titles. They follow courage.

Directed by:

Mel GibsonMel Gibson

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 177 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

Hills, bagpipes, mist, the word “Scotland” written along the bottom of the screen – it can only be one place. That’s right, Wales. Nah, only joking – as if anyone would ever make a film about Wales.

Mel Gibson both directed and starred in this tartan-clad epic about William Wallace, the legendary Scottish freedom fighter/terrorist who, even way back in the 14th Century, had already had enough of the English going on about winning the World Cup in 1966. So, armed with just some rocks, a few hundred muck-dwellers and an extremely peculiar accent, he led a nation to fight for freedom from English tyranny. Or something along those lines.

It’s actually fairly appropriate to be so vague about all of this, because nobody really knows all that much about the real Wallace (and most of what we do know comes from a poem). You could spend a lifetime picking apart the historical inaccuracies in the flick, and there would still be those who’d disagree with what you found.

Because of that, how much enjoyment you can get from this 177-minute beast depends largely on your willingness to accept Wallace as a charmer with biting wit and a permanently clean-shaven chin. As the sort of bloke beautiful French princesses would hand over national secrets to simply because of the way he looks at them. Or even just as a guy who doesn’t smell like moss.

The most breath-taking, if gruesome, parts of the movie are the incredibly lifelike battle scenes. Putting them together must have been an immense project to undertake, but you’ve got to hand it to Gibbers – he does it very, very well. He also makes a likable hero figure, providing you can put to the back of your mind the fact that he’s basically playing the original ned.

Personally I find the movie far too long, particularly as parts of it play like a TV advert for the Scottish Tourist Board. In one scene, for example, Wallace sprints to the top of a mountain and just stands there, kilt billowing, for no apparent reason. Anyone who’s ever worn a kilt will of course know that the last place you’re likely to linger is a-top a windy Scottish mountain. Talk about “freedom”!!

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It's Got: A clutch of Oscars to its name, including Best Picture, Director, Cinematography, Face Paints (sorry, I mean “Make-Up”) and Sound Effects Editing.

It Needs: A second leg at Wembley.

DVD Extras Audio commentary from The Gibster, and an original trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 3/10

Alternatives:

Rob Roy, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Summary

It might be a load of nonsense from an historical point of view, but ‘Braveheart’ still produces the goods entertainment-wise. But does it really have to be so long??

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