Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1990s Braveheart (1996)

Braveheart (1996)

13th century Scotland. A Scottish rebel, William Wallace (Mel Gibson), leads an uprising against the cruel English reign of Edward the Longshanks (Patrick McGoohan) who plans to take the Scottish crown for himself.

His father died trying to bring freedom to the Scots when he was a young boy, so Wallace – with the support of Robert the Bruce (Angus MacFadyen) takes on the invader.

Of all the films ever made that purport to be based in actual history, Braveheart ranks as the most egregiously inaccurate.

William Wallace is portrayed in the film as hailing from a family of peasant farmers. In actuality, Wallace’s father was a minor nobleman. The movie also depicts the English as executing Wallace’s wife, thus providing him with a deeply personal motive for rebelling against them. In fact, there is no record of Wallace having been married.


Even Mel Gibson’s physiognomy and age are wrong. Wallace was reputed to have been tall (perhaps 6’5″) and heavily muscled. He would have been in his late twenties to mid-thirties during the uprising against England.

Standing a trim 5’11” and 38 years of age at the time of filming, Mel Gibson was a half-foot shorter than Wallace, much slighter of build, and somewhat older.

Woad, the blue war paint prominently displayed in the film’s battle scenes, had not been used by Scottish warriors since the end of the Roman era, some 800 years before the events depicted in the film. The movie also depicts several clans in Wallace’s army dressed in their representative clan tartans, but the use of distinctive kilts and tartan patterns did not emerge until the Victorian era, 600 years later.

Budgeted at around $53 million and given an R rating for its scenes of brutal medieval warfare, Braveheart bagged six Oscars, including Best Director.

While the battle scenes are something to behold, the real interest lies in the way Gibson ups the ante in Hollywood cinema’s enduring fascination with the spectacle of broken, bloodied male bodies where narcissism and masochism combine to create the image of warrior-star.

The next stop for Gibson would be obvious, The Passion of The Christ, the ultimate in celluloid bloodletting.

William Wallace
Mel Gibson
Longshanks, King Edward I
Patrick McGoohan
Princess Isabelle
Sophie Marceau
Argyle Wallace
Brian Cox
Catherine McCormack
Robert the Bruce
Angus MacFadyen
Brendan Gleeson
David O’Hara
James Cosmo
Prince Edward
Peter Hanly
Alun Armstrong
Young William
James Robinson
Malcolm Wallace
Sean Lawlor
John Wallace
Sandy Nelson
Elder Stewart
Alan Tall
Séan McGinley
Mother MacClannough
Gerda Stevenson
Stephen Billington
John Kavanagh
Tommy Flanagan
Mrs Morrison
Julie Austin
Lord Bottoms
Rupert Vansittart
Michael Byrne
Tam White
Donal Gibson
Jeanne Marine
Lord Dolecroft
Martin Dunne
Jimmy Chisholm
John Murtagh
Lord Talmadge
Martin Murphy
Bernard Horsfall
Gerard McSorley
Governor of York
Richard Leaf
Liam Carney

Mel Gibson