Reviews: Brave Heart

A superlative historical fantasy.

Braveheart more or less began the seemingly never-ending stream of high-budget, gritty semi-historical epics that Hollywood's been churning out on a regular basis for two decades now, but it's yet to be truly bested. It's still one of film's most inspirational tales of oppression, humanity, sacrifice, and... freedom (what, were you expecting me to shout it in allcaps so as to underscore the film's awesomeness? Silly puppy).

One thing though; don't go into this movie expecting a history lesson. If this is your study material for a test on Scottish medieval history... you will fail harder than William Wallace himself at Falkirk. This movie has far too many so-called "intellectual" critics who've completely missed this very important point, dismissing it as "Anglophobic propaganda" (seriously, what?) when even the screenwriter himself (who purports himself to be Wallace's descendant) wrote it as more of an adaptation of rose-tinted patriotic poetry (Patriotoetry?) on the subject than anything. Just read a goddamn book if you want the facts... but I promise you, you won't be having half as good a time!

Because, despite specifically being set during the Scots' wars for independence, it's a pretty timeless, universal tale... enhanced, of course, by the lovably (if somewhat stereotypical) rough and rowdy Scottish setting. The Scots and the Irish are fearless grade-A underdog badasses (wearing woad made in part from literal Anachronism Stew, no doubt) who fight against oppressive, abusive rulers no matter the cost. Problem is, even with the charismatic leader figure in Wallace fighting the good fight and apparently winning, their own country's nobility seek to stay within the good graces of their British liege lords so as to not lose their privilege. This, naturally, doesn't end well.

Mel Gibson puts as much genuine likeability into Wallace as he can; Patrick McGoohan is delightfully wicked as the heartless, sneering English king; and, of course, Angus FUCKING Macfadyen steals every scene he's in because he's Angus FUCKING Macfadyen, and will be leading the Scots toward true independence any day now. And that goddamn score... it's a lost art these days, scores like that. R.I.P. James Horner, this was well and truly your masterpiece.