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.
Hardly the last word in historical accuracy, Gibson’s directorial debut is a wattle-and-daub epic of muddy, bloody battles.
Gibson plays Wallace as an ultra-macho mythical warrior, a resourceful military strategist and a martyr-in-the-making – dying on the rack, his last word is “freedom!” – while also enjoying dalliances with a French princess (Sophie Marceau) and an old flame (Catherine McCormack).
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.
Longshanks, King Edward I
Robert the Bruce
Governor of York