Braveheart (1995) ★★★★★ 4/5
Huge issues here. Issues so big they completely take away from the movie. The issues I have with Braveheart are the same issues I had with Gunfight At The OK Corral.
Braveheart is a film about a historical figure. The figure being held tribute to is William Wallace. Wallace, played by - as well as directed by - Mel Gibson, was a Scottish rebel who launched campaigns to overtake England's King Edward (Patrick McGoohan) and his reign of Scotland by England. The film is set in the 1300s and does a wonderful job of portraying a feudal society where Nobles lease land to peasants and farmers in exchange for their protection. The system has major societal issues and are examined in the film. Among these issues are the abuse of power. Sadly, the film made up laws enforced that never really existed. The law in question here is one that gave nobles the right to sleep with a bride on the night of her wedding. Not true. Didn't happen.
Not only is this not true, but the vast majority of the film is a bevy of fabrications. Edward II's (Peter Hanly) wife Isabella (Sophie Marceau) has several meetings and an affair with Wallace. The truth is Isabella never met Wallace, let alone slept with him. The revolution against England didn't start because a noble executed Wallace's secret wife (Catherine McCormack). But above all the falsifications the worst is the actual name of the movie, referring to Wallace as Braveheart. In fact, the nickname of Braveheart was given to Robert the Bruce (Ian Bannen). It's all very bizarre.
The movie is well done and it is very enthralling and gripping - until of course you look into the truth of the film further. According to Mel Gibson storylines were changed to make the film more compelling. I find this highly offensive as a movie goer. If I am watching a movie about a historical event, I demand accuracy. If someone is going to blotch the script up so much that it has no relevance to accuracy, then reevaluate the entire film. Why not make up a new set to the story. Make up new characters. I absolutely despise and loathe films that alter historical facts.
Had it not been for this, I would have easily gone 5 stars on the movie. This knocks it down to 4 - almost 3. The cinematography is breathtaking. The editing has some flaws if you are watching the film closely. The only reason I mention this is because the the film was nominated for an Academy Award for editing. It did not win and those minor flaws, probably unnoticeable by the untrained eye, probably cost it that award. But it did win a slew of others including Best Picture.
Yes, it is a compelling and emotionally charged movie. It captivates you and enthralls you. But if you really want to enjoy this movie, don't ever bother to ind out what really happened in the life of King Edward, King Edward II and William Wallace. The truth is a much better story and knowing this will make the movie disappointing.