In the late thirteenth century, William Wallace of Scotland led an army of rebels against the king of England who wanted to rule over Scotland as well. There is very little history written about Wallace, so most of the story came from myth and legend.
There are many things that classify this film as an epic: huge battle scenes, three hours of your life, soaring score and a whole lot of violence. This isn’t your typical medieval sword fight. This is men impaling each other on sharp sticks. They slice open throats and let the last breath gurgle more blood out. With an arrow sticking out of their chest, they just snap the end off and continue fighting. How brutally badass!
There are so many historical inaccuracies here (they swarm the trivia page on IMDB), but honestly, I don’t think anyone really cares. There isn’t much evidence to support if primae noctis was practiced at this point in history or not, but it helps the viewer rally behind the Scottish men.
Primae noctis, in this film, was a law made up by the English that would give them legal rights to be with a bride on her wedding night. Nothing like a little legal raping, right? The plot works because it isn’t accurate and with all the gaps between history and legend, writer Randall Wallace had to make some connections somehow. Hollywood doesn’t have the best record of preserving history accuracy anyway, who’s going to get their panties in a bunch over something as sketchy as William Wallace anyways?
I had seen only bits and pieces of this film before, mostly on television and very edited, so I was excited to finally see this great epic in its entirety. For some reason, my interest just wasn’t held. After that first hour, it seemed like there was only bureaucracy and battles, and once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Just more dirty men yelling and stabbing each other.
Let’s put the narcissism of Mel Gibson aside for a moment, I mean he only produced and directed a three hour epic starring himself. Here’s what you learn from Braveheart: Scots invented the mullet. Kilts are perfect for pre-battle mooning. Mel Gibson decided to try Fabio look for this role. And this film is way overrated. Because I’m not agreeing with The Academy for Braveheart’s win, I invite Mel Gibson to admit defeat:
“Before we let you leave, your commander must cross that field, present himself before this army, put his head between his legs, and kiss his own arse.”