Wednesday, May 12, 2010

30 Day Movie Meme: Day 2

I'm on vacation in Hawaii at the moment so this 30 Day Movie Meme I've started will take well over thirty days to complete. Such is life. ;)

30 Day Movie Meme

BRAVEHEART (USA/United Kingdom, 1995)
Directed by: Mel Gibson
Starring: Mel Gibson, Patrick McGoohan, Angus Macfadyen and Sophie Marceau

The film takes a mostly mythological look at the rise of Scottish rebel William Wallace (Mel Gibson), who has lost his father, brother and young wife to brutal English soldiers during the reign of King Edward I (Patrick McGoohan) in the thirteenth century.

With the help of Robert the Bruce (Angus Macfadyen), the heir to the Scottish throne, Wallace raises an army of Scotsmen willing to fight to the death in the hopes of seeing Scotland become it's own independent nation; separate from England. 

This may seem like a curious choice to consider an underrated film. Granted, it was popular when it was first released. It went on to win Best Picture and Best Director at the 1995 Academy Awards. Like most films that win the top two awards of any given year, there was backlash. Now, with Gibson's current unpopularity due to his drunken outbursts, people seem to have turned their backs on anything he's ever done.

While I don't support Gibson's hate-filled rampages, I do love this film, in particular. Even if Gibson were still as popular as he was in the 1980's and 1990's, I still think this film would have received a bit of backlash. People criticized its historical inaccuracies, however, I defy anyone to name one Hollywood historical epic that has been 100% faithful to historical fact. I was a history major in university, yet I understand why writers change fact into fiction for the sake a solid and entertaining screenplay. There were others who claimed it was nothing but gratuitous violence. Well, it's set during a violent time.

Why do I love it so? It's my favourite historical epic. Period. It's everything a film audience could want: great storytelling, solid acting, stirring speeches, a love story, an inspirational protagonist and epic battles. Is it a flawed film? Yes. However, I don't think it deserves the hate-fest it receives sometimes from critics and film fans alike. 

Like King Arthur, William Wallace is a historical figure shrouded in mystery; his legend is mostly myth. Yet Braveheart, with a nearly three hour running time, manages to take the most fascinating bits and weave them into a rousing epic. The film isn't trying to answer the question: who was William Wallace? It's simply reminding us that someone that influential once existed. It's an emotional, powerful and beautiful film with one hell of an ending.