Braveheart (1995)


Braveheart is a 1995 American epic drama film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. The film was written for the screen and then novelized by Randall Wallace. Gibson portrays William Wallace, a Scottish warrior who gained recognition when he came to the forefront of the First War of Scottish Independence by opposing King Edward I of England, also known as "Longshanks" (Patrick McGoohan). The film won five Academy Awards at the 68th Academy Awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director, and had been nominated for an additional five.


In 1280 A.D., King Edward "Longshanks" (Patrick McGoohan) of England, has occupied much of southern Scotland, and his oppressive rule there leads to the deaths of William Wallace's father and brother. Years later, after Wallace has been raised abroad by his uncle (Brian Cox), the Scots continue to live under the iron fist of Longshanks' cruel laws. Wallace returns, intent on living as a farmer and avoiding involvement in the ongoing "troubles". Wallace seeks out and courts Murron, and the two marry in secret to avoid the decree of primae noctis the King has set forth. When an English soldier tries to rape Murron, Wallace fights off several soldiers and the two attempt to flee, but the village sheriff captures Murron and publicly executes her by slitting her throat, proclaiming "an assault on the King's soldiers is the same as an assault on the King himself." In retribution, Wallace and several villagers slaughter the English garrison, executing the sheriff in the same manner that he executed Murron. Wallace, the men from his village, and a neighbouring clan enter the fortress of the local English lord, killing him and burning it down. In response to Wallace's exploits, the commoners of Scotland rise in revolt against England. As his legend spreads, hundreds of Scots from the surrounding clans volunteer to join Wallace's militia. Wallace leads his army through a series of successful battles against the English, including the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, and the sacking of the city of York. All the while, Wallace seeks the assistance of young Robert the Bruce (Angus Macfadyen), son of the leper noble Robert the Bruce (Ian Bannen) and the chief contender for the Scottish crown. However, Robert is dominated by his scheming father, who wishes to secure the throne of Scotland to his son by bowing down to the English, despite his son's growing admiration for Wallace and his cause. Two Scottish nobles, Lochlan and Mornay, planning to submit to Longshanks, betray Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk the following year as a new English army invades Scotland. The Scots lose the battle and Wallace nearly loses his life. As a last desperate act a furious Wallace breaks ranks and charges toward Longshanks, who led the English troops himself in the battle. He is intercepted by one of the king's hooded lancers and knocked from his horse, but gains the upper hand when the lancer dismounts to examine the fallen Wallace. Wallace is set to kill the lancer, but upon taking the lancer's helmet off, discovered his opponent is Robert the Bruce. Bruce is able to get Wallace to safety just before the English can capture him, but laments his actions for some time to come because of what Wallace has stood for, which he betrayed. For the next seven years, Wallace goes into hiding, fighting a guerrilla war against English forces with his remaining band of Scotsmen. In order to repay Mornay and Lochlan for their betrayals, Wallace brutally murders both men: Mornay by crushing his skull with a mace in his bed chamber and Lochlan by slitting his throat during a meeting of the nobles at Edinburgh. Meanwhile, Princess Isabelle of France (Sophie Marceau) (whose incompetent husband Edward, Prince of Wales ignores her) meets with Wallace as the English king's emissary. Having heard of him beforehand and after meeting him in person, she becomes enamored with him and secretly assists him in his fight. Eventually, she and Wallace make love, after which she becomes pregnant. Still believing there is some good in the nobility of his country, Wallace eventually agrees to meet with Robert the Bruce in Edinburgh. Wallace is caught in a trap set by the elder Bruce and the other nobles, beaten unconscious, and handed over to the English. Learning of his father's treachery, the younger Bruce disowns his father. In London, Wallace is brought before the English magistrates and tried for high treason. He denies the charges, declaring that he had never accepted Edward as his King. The court responds by sentencing him to be "purified by pain." After the sentencing, a shaken Wallace prays for strength during the upcoming torture and rejects a painkiller brought to him by Isabelle. Afterwards, the princess goes to her husband and father-in-law, begging them to show mercy. Prince Edward, speaking for the now terminally ill and mute Longshanks, tells his wife that the king will take pleasure in Wallace's death. Isabelle verbally lambastes her husband and father-in-law, then informs the weakened Longshanks of her pregnancy with Wallace's child and swears that Edward will not last long as king. Meanwhile, Wallace is taken to a London square at the Tower of London for his torture and execution by beheading. He refuses to submit to the king and beg for mercy despite being half hanged, racked, castrated, and disemboweled publicly. Awed by Wallace's courage, the Londoners watching the execution begin to yell for mercy, and the magistrate offers him one final chance for mercy. Using the last strength in his body, the defiant William instead shouts, "Freedom!" Just as he is about to be beheaded, Wallace sees an image of Murron in the crowd smiling at him, before the blow is struck. In 1314, nine years after Wallace's death, Robert the Bruce, now a king and still guilt-ridden over Wallace's betrayal, leads a strong Scottish army and faces a ceremonial line of English troops at the fields of Bannockburn where the English are to accept him as the rightful ruler of Scotland. Just as he is about to ride to accept the English endorsement, the Bruce turns back to his troops. Invoking Wallace's memory, he urges his charges to fight with him as they did with Wallace. Robert then turns toward the English troop line and leads a charge toward the English, who were not expecting to fight. The film ends with Mel Gibson's voice intoning that the Scottish won their freedom in this battle.