Worth A Look: 9.05%
Pretty Bad: 2.59%
Total Crap: 10.78%
4 reviews, 208 user ratings
by John Linton Roberson
Before I begin: A bias. I hate Mel Gibson. The one time I ever liked his work was his surprisingly good(because it was visceral) portrayal of Hamlet(in an otherwise badly truncated & maimed version). Beyond that, I think he's a self-obsessed, sexist, homophobic mindless macho goon who so OBVIOUSLY wants to be the next John Wayne. This makes me like him even less: y'see, I hated the FIRST John Wayne. This brainless ego trip deserved to sink like a stone, out of sight forever. Now it's Best Picture. Which only goes to show the Oscars are shameless horseshit. But we knew that, didn't we?I was amazed to look at other comments on this film at this site and find them all to be positive. I'd have thought this would have been a PRIME subject of attack. Filling in the gap, here's the NEGATIVE review of BRAVEHEART. I presume you've seen it by now, if you're reading this, so I'll only go into plot details as necessary.
"The Most Loathsome Historical Epic Ever, or Beating Dead Horses"
I'll get this out of the way: This is an entertaining film if you don't care at all about the subject whose story it claims to tell. Yes--the cinematography, acting, editing, fight scenes, decor, and other surface items people were well-paid to keep looking good so Gibson would appear he could actually direct--these are all excellent. The scripting, in a very shallow way, is witty--the dialogue, not the hackneyed plot grafted onto history. But I really don't give a damn. These are the last nice things about the movie you'll hear in this review.
So what's so wrong with this picture?
First, and foremost: Being of descent from Scotland's Dunndeigh clan, I am heartily offended by the multiple historical inaccuracies shot throughout this piece of shit(these people are paid enough to do research on more than costumes; there is no excuse for this all-too-common insulting carelessness in Hollywood films), and find it surprising that this thing is so popular as it is in Scotland.
Merely a few(of many potential) examples:
a) It portrayed Robert Bruce, their national hero and liberator of Scotland(and, indirectly, destroyer of Edward II) as a coward, traitor, liar and quisling, which hasn't any basis in historical fact. (It's like claiming Lincoln intended to, well, enslave the slaves.) I know a time when Scots would kill you for suggestions like that.
b) The then-future queen of England(well, the secondary one), the wife of Edward II, Isabel, could not have had a child by William Wallace. In the film her last stab at Edward I is the knowledge that the king who will succeed his son is in fact Wallace's child. How cutting! How vicious! How fitting! Too bad Isabel was in fact six years old at the time; if she had an affair with Wallace he was one sick bastard. If it made her pregnant, well, that IS miraculous. Certainly a tribute to Scottish virility!Perhaps the age of consent was lower then. In fact, Wallace did have a taste for young girls, but this was of a very different character than portrayed by Gibson. Perhaps it would've made him seem too real.
c) Wallace is portrayed as a commoner, to make him all the more noble and heroic. A commoner who was educated in the greatest centers of learning in Europe? Interesting. Touching.
But no, commoners in Scotland were like commoners everywhere then; no future, no hope, nothing. Wallace, in fact, was not a commoner. He was Sir William Wallace of Elerslie, the ancient Cragies line; isn't THAT obscure? Actually evidence is split but most date his family from at least the time of the Norman Conquest, He was a noble. Which was partly why he inspired confidence(vascillating, sure; but what nobles aren't?) in the nobles of Scotland. No matter how effective he was as a fighter the nobles would not have listened to a man of no rank, because a man of no rank had no land and therefore, in their view, no stake in the fight, and therefore nothing to say that could interest them. Which is sort of how it's portrayed in the movie, but he was already noble in reality.
His family was of low rank within that sphere, true, but they had rank and land. This is a cheap way for Gibson to get the audience's sympathy; as he walks around with that thick neck, tanned skin(and you don't see that often in Scotland), he's got to have something to make him look like the little guy, I suppose.((To me Gibson always had the exact demeanor of every schoolyard bully, and the more heroic he tries to make himself look the worse this effect gets)
d) William Wallace died nearly a full decade before Edward I did. It gives Gibson's character a chance to exact at least an ironic revenge on Longshanks(and provides him a particularly annoying chance to make himself a Christ figure, a directorial act so cheap I'm really shocked nobody has mentioned it), but Longshanks lived to enjoy Wallace's death.
e) His father and brother, and mother, were still alive when he was an adult. As their horrible deaths are portrayed as giving him a cheesily Bruce Wayne-like lifelong obsession with killing the English(which lies dormant but is reignited with the murder of his wife). His brother was in fact head of the family at the time of the events portrayed in the film. The horrible massacre no doubt occurred but Wallace's father died much later--though under similar circumstances.
f) The murder of his beloved. Lovely. Sad. Tragic. Pure fiction. She was killed, true, but this was not the start of his guerilla career. Wallace became a wanted man for murdering two fairly important Englishmen in situations wholly unrelated to romance, when he was about 20. One of them with a fishing pole!
I could go on and on...the portrayal of a primitive existence for the Scots in the film, even by the standards of the day, which was hardly the case--the Scottish had a standard of living comparable with anyplace else in Europe, more or less, at the time--and a king, John Balliol, of its own on the throne at the time as well.
This has been called by some another attempt by the English to lie about a country it considers lower than itself. I don't know enough about Australia to know whether it is in fact particularly British in character; I suspect not.
But it is full of lies. Some might say this doesn't matter, it's just entertainment. Oh, yeah...every fucking second there's another film about medieval Scotland. I'm so sick of that shit...
Gibson: If you bother to make a historical film, you must have found something about the story, as it was, interesting. Why do you feel the need to deny the audience that? Why do you lie to them and give them just one more fucking Robin Hood story? Lazy. Stupid. Unnecessary. I want those 3+ hours of my life back.
The truth is very interesting, more interesting than what comes out of screenwriters' hacked little minds. Just fingers typing and clicking with no mind or heart at all. What a sad, though lucrative, writer's purgatory that profession must be.
And when it is not lying, it is often just hateful. Take Edward II, who was a weak king, unsuited for the post, this is true. He was also homosexual, as portrayed in the film. But Gibson obsesses upon this aspect of Edward II and draws a connection, a necessary, sad, and if you buy it, nauseating connection, between Edward's homosexuality and his weakness. It's nothing new to say Mel Gibson is a raving homophobe. But his almost homicidal hatred of them here--the funniest, or at least it appears to have been meant that way, scene in the film is when Edward I throws his son's lover out of a window. Look at the little queer scream and drop, Gibson seems to be chuckling at us. Oh, very funny. Sure. Personally, in all the instances he's shown himself to be fiercely threatened by homosexuality(and he seems to at least slip a reference to that in each film he's in), Gibson seems like the most obvious closet leatherboy on the planet, despite the profusion of offspring he has grown in his wife.Ugly; hateful; but such good cinematography. And if you liked RIVERDANCE and just can't get enough of pseudo-Celtic kitsch music, this is the soundtrack for you. Avoid this: Watch THE LION IN WINTER or HENRY V instead. Please, for your own good.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=704&reviewer=151
originally posted: 09/24/99 15:32:03