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151 of 174 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Braveheart - Mel Gibson's crowning achievement!
"Braveheart" is quite simply, one of the best and most successful movies ever created and a huge part of that success comes from the efforts extended by Mel Gibson, as he wore three different hats for this masterpiece, those being producer, director and star. The one oddity about this movie for me was that I pretty much wore out my VHS copy of it and had, a...
Published on January 18, 2004 by K. Wyatt

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104 of 134 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ENTERTAINING BUT FLAWED
Before you slaughter me for giving Braveheart only three stars (actually I'd give it three and a half), let me start by putting my review into some kind of perspective. Not only am I Scottish, born and bred but like all Scots I am extremely patriotic and proud of my country's heritage and its history, particularly the likes of William Wallace. I also acknowledge that...
Published on January 11, 2002 by Mr. N. Carnegie


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151 of 174 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Braveheart - Mel Gibson's crowning achievement!, January 18, 2004
By 
K. Wyatt "ssintrepid" (Cape Girardeau, MO United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Braveheart (DVD)
"Braveheart" is quite simply, one of the best and most successful movies ever created and a huge part of that success comes from the efforts extended by Mel Gibson, as he wore three different hats for this masterpiece, those being producer, director and star. The one oddity about this movie for me was that I pretty much wore out my VHS copy of it and had, a couple years ago, purchased the DVD but only just recently took the opportunity to watch it again and no matter how many times you watch this movie, it is still a stunning, compelling and extraordinarily intriguing film that draws you in to the life of William Wallace despite already knowing how it's going to end.
The one thing that drives this movie is the spirit that Mel Gibson puts into his character of William Wallace and it is of no surprise that "Braveheart" won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture of 1995 and Best Director for Mel Gibson. The only true surprise was that he wasn't among the top five nominated for or won the Best Actor award.
High praise also goes to the long list of supporting actors and actresses that starred in this superb film! Most notable was the performance by Sophie Marceau, one of the most beautiful women on the planet. Patrick McGoohan was absolutely incredible in the role of the villain Longshanks, King Edward I, delivering a memorable performance.
One of the most notable performances in this film, among the many, was the work done by James Horner who was responsible for the score. As is normally the case when his name appears in the credits, everything about the score, from the first reel to the last, is incredibly well blended into the movie and serves extremely well in enhancing the experience of the movie.
The Premise:
As the old saying goes, is it Hollywood or History? The truth is, of course it's a bit of history, put together Hollywood style to make one of the best films ever presented to an audience. The truth behind it is that we'll never know as recorded history from this era is circumspect as best. Where a huge portion of the credit for this film lays is in the hands of Randall Wallace, a descendant of William Wallace's.
As this historic film opens, we see a young William Wallace in Scotland as he's learning the harsh lessons of life in his era. After his family is killed in battle he's fortunate enough to have his Uncle Argyle (played brilliantly by Brian Cox) take him under his wing! Several years later he returns home to find that his countrymen are still suffering under the yoke of English oppression but he didn't come home for that, he came home for Murron MacClannough (Catherine McCormack), seeking her hand in marriage. Unfortunate events unfold from there and William loses the love of his life and goes on a rampage not only to avenge his love but to free his country...
What follows from there is not only one of the best films of the nineties but one of the best films of all times. I highly recommend "Braveheart" to any and all who are interested in seeing what true movie making is about! {ssintrepid}
Special Features:
-2 Theatrical Trailers
-Commentary by Director Mel Gibson
-A Filmmaker's Passion: The Making of Braveheart
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145 of 169 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There are a few I think who missed the point., July 26, 2000
By 
Corribus (Illinois, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Braveheart (DVD)
In order to maintain the appearence of objectivity, I was going to rate this movie 4 stars. But I just couldn't. It really deserves 5, and it's going to get every one of them. This movie features some of the most stunning cinematography I've ever seen (scenes of particular brilliance include the deer-hunting scene and the slo-mo shots right before Gibson's first rebellion), impeccable acting (I don't know why the British have been hiding their actors from the American film industry - every one of the British/Scottish actors in the film was amazing, and Patrick McGoohan (sp) gave an incredible performance as Longshanks, not to mention newcomer Sophie Marceau), a magical musical score, and on and on and on and on. Physical elements alone qualify this work for the title of Best Picture.
Yet, a number of people chastise Gibson and the movie for a number of reasons, primarily its departure from historical accuracy. I do believe these people have missed the point, for I do not believe it is fair to criticise a movie for failing to realize a goal for which it never really strived. I wonder: do these same people criticize Homer's "The Odyssey"? Do historical hardbodies cast aspersions at T.H. White's "Once and Future King" for taking historical liberties with "King" Arthur? (For that manner, any of the hundreds of contributions to the Arthurian legend). What about Robin Hood? Beowulf? Romance of the Three Kingdoms? Why is it copacetic for a book to create a myth around a cultural hero, but when it comes to film we must be expected to be as straightlaced about historical fact as an army bootcamp is about bedmaking and floor cleaning?
I have read a lot of reviews below and a number of criticisers of the film's historical authenticity spit out the word "epic" as if it is a word that the American film industry has abused and transmogrified into a catchphrase for luring in gullible American movie-goers. But I argue that Braveheart, and the historical inaccuracies which it adopts (and it adopts many, which are nicely pointed out elsewhere), fit the same formula for "Epic Fiction" that we use to classify great (and I mean, universally accepted as great) epic works of fiction such as the Iliad, the Odyssey, etc. These works are not about who did what where and when and in what fashion. They are about the myth, the hero, and the way that they have influenced the ideals of the culture (italicize that). Was there really a Grendel, a Cyclops shepherd, a Wizard named Merlin, or Chinese war heroes who could single-handedly take on a small army? No. And yet, these works of fiction (and the mythological heroes that they have created) have had as much if not more of an impact on their respective cultures than any real life historical event. The impact of the epic is therefore not to be underestimated. Does the fact that Gibson portrayed the battle of Sterling Bridge without a Bridge really make that much of a differnce? The end outcome was the same, at least from an idealogical point of view. He rallied his men to victory with brilliant tactics against insurmountable odds. The presence or absence of a bridge, naked men, or twenty foot spears does not change that. The myth survives.
Finally, regarding historical accuracy, there is the fact that although the movie does take a lot of liberties in order to portray a THEME - I am intelligent enough to suspend my disbelief during the movie. Furthermore, after the movie is over, (and this is a credit to the movie-maker) I was intrigued enough to go do some research on the subject from an objective historical source to find out what really happened. If a work of art (which is not, I remind you, required to be objective - artistic objectivity is almost an oxymoron and film should not be treated differently in this regard than any other form of art) instills in me a desire to learn more about a subject while at the same time portraying well the epic themes it sets out to portray, then in my book it was a successful venture and worthy of all the accolades it receives....Again, this is an epic, and just as a Greek epic might portray the Trojans as ruthless savages and their own members as heroic visionaries, I think it is acceptable for a Scottish epic to do the same to the British. And calling Gibson a homophobic is just ridiculous. Whether or not Edward II was really gay is not important. If he was, then BY THE STANDARDS OF THE DAY, he was an outcast, and would have been perceived, especially by his father, as weak, without potential, and unfit to rule. If he wasn't gay, but was just disinterested in ruling a kingdom (and history is filled to the brim with examples of less than sterling royal progeny), he would have again been seen (especially by his father) as weak, without potential and unfit to rule (because fathers - especially kings - have expectations of their sons), and questions about his sexuality would have naturally begun to arise among the nobility and commonfolk. What we as viewers of a historical or epic piece of artwork must do is refrain from judging said work by our standards. Today, homosexuality is (for the most part) accepted by society. Back then, it wasn't, and the mere rumor was enough to get you rejected from society (and vice-versa). Therefore, in light of the times in which the movie is set, the portrayal of the weak fop of a prince, EdwardII, as homosexual is both acceptable and indicative of the society that the movie was trying to portray. It wouldn't, for example, have made much sense to portray Edward I as gay. Not because a gay man couldn't be a successful King or military leader, but because a gay man would never have achieved respect as a monarch - THEN - by the people or his enemy.
In closing, this is an excellent film that deserves its status as a best picture, despite (and perhaps because of) its historical inaccuracies. I encourage anyone with any interest in medieval history to view it, because it might just entice you to look into more historically accurate documents that, while not as entertaining as the movie iteself, will give you a more wholistic picture of what really happened.
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256 of 306 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood, bravery & idealism in an epic fist punch to your gut., January 25, 2003
By 
Themis-Athena (from somewhere between California and Germany) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Braveheart (DVD)
On a whole number of levels, this movie shouldn't have worked for me. It takes considerable license with historical facts, not only in order to supplement details that are not part of William Wallace's legend but actually, wherever convenient. ("We stuck to history where we could but hyped it up where the legend let us," actor-director Mel Gibson admits on the DVD's commentary track.) It is graphically and unabashedly violent: from throat cuttings to battle scenes that have film blood literally splashing onto the camera, beheadings, a traitor's head smashed with a
wrecking ball, and fully 15 minutes of Wallace's "purification by pain," it shows some of the most brutal behavior conceivable. It also engages in some of the most blatant gay profiling in recent film history - not just in the drastic end administered on the lover of King Edward I. "Longshanks"'s son, but equally in the portrayal of both characters and their relationship as such. Last but not least, Mel Gibson plays a man at least 10 years younger than himself, a choice often enough bordering on the ridiculous. (Gibson insists it was the studio's wish that he not only produce and direct but also star in the title role.)

And yet ...

From the first notes of James Horner's hauntingly beautiful soundtrack and the first sweeping camera shots over the Scottish highlands, blending seamlessly into the pictures of the Scottish riders on their way to the alleged truce talks initiated by Longshanks, and the narrator's, Robert the Bruce's (Angus MacFadyen's) introduction - "I shall tell you about William Wallace: Historians from England will call me a liar, but history is written by those who have hanged heroes" - there is no mistaking that this is an epic story, taking up the tradition of the likes of "Spartacus" and "Ben Hur." Like those movies, "Braveheart" is a story of heroism and of having the courage of one's convictions; chronicling the life of its hero from first love to loss, betrayal, battles and final confrontation with his arch-enemy's powers. Like both of them, "Braveheart" won multiple Academy Awards, not least for John Toll's outstanding cinematography. Like "Ben Hur," it also won the coveted awards for "Best Picture" and for "Best Director." And maybe I'm just a sucker for that kind of epos ...

To my surprise, I found Mel Gibson to come across very believable as William Wallace; age difference, Scottish brogue and all. Both his acting and his direction are informed by a clear sense of vision for the movie and its title character. Moreover, although full writing credits went to would-be (?) Wallace descendant Randall W., many little details undeniably show Gibson's hand and mannerisms: to name just a few of the more obvious examples, Wallace's marriage proposal to Murron, his grinning greeting of a group of English soldiers trapped below a cliff, and his response to a doubting Scottish soldier's comment at Sterling that he can't really be Wallace because he's not tall enough.

In addition to John Toll's award winning cinematography, the movie benefits from first-rate production design (Tom Sanders), a score which perfectly captures the mood of every single scene, and a cast of outstanding actors; first and foremost Patrick McGoohan as Longshanks, who portrays the king's utter ruthlessness so convincingly that you completely forget his earlier incarnation as the 1960s' "Danger Man," and who delivers monologues and soliloquies worthy of a Shakespearean king. His musing "but whom shall I send" when plotting to send a messenger to Wallace with another insincere offer of truce, and his chilling announcement of the reinstitution the ius primae noctae because "the trouble with Scotland is that it is full of Scots ... If we can't get them out, we'll breed them out" could have been uttered verbatim by anyone of the Bard's most sinister kings. (Screenwriter Randall Wallace does indeed admit to Shakespeare's direct influence on the script, particularly on Wallace's "Sons of Scotland" speech before the battle of Sterling, which is strongly based on the monologues of King Henry V. at Agincourt).

Equally impressive is Ian Bannen in one of his last roles, starring as Robert the Bruce's leprosy-ridden father and evil spirit, whose first reaction to the tales about Wallace is to deride him ("He has courage; so does a dog"), and who expertly plays on his son's ambivalent feelings, until he finally drives Robert into hating his father for having coaxed him into his own game of scheming and betrayal - whereupon the elder Bruce drily comments: "At last you have learned what it means to hate. Now you are ready to be a king."

Then-newcomer Catherine McCormack stars as Wallace's childhood love Murron, whose scenes with Wallace provide for much-needed tenderness in the first hour of the movie - particularly touching is four year old Murron's gift of a thistle (Scotland's national flower) to orphaned William - and contrast sharply with the bloodshed that follows virtually incessantly from her death onwards. Sophie Marceau matures from teenage party queen ("La Boum") to French Princess Isabelle; Brendan Gleeson stars as Wallace's boyhood friend Hamish, David O'Hara as his heaven-conversing, self-appointed Irish guardian Stephen - one of the movie's most colorful characters - and Brian Cox brings all his extraordinary screen presence to his brief appearance as Wallace's uncle Argyle.

When I left the theater after having witnessed this movie's almost three hours of blood, gore and intense emotions for the first time, I felt as if somebody had given me a fist punch into my stomach. I was so struck that I was almost unable to speak, and dragged my moviegoing companion into the next bar, to revive my spirits with a glass of whiskey. (Scotch, of course). Having seen the film countless times since then, I no longer need that whiskey to overcome its drastic impact - but I still get gooseflesh during many of its key scenes and can't watch it without feeling emotionally drained at the end.

Also recommended:

William Wallace
Braveheart
Rob Roy
Spartacus - Criterion Collection
Ben-Hur (Four-Disc Collector's Edition)
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great film, Lousy History, May 27, 2002
By 
This review is from: Braveheart (DVD)
This film really had me at sixes and sevens as to how to review it. On the one hand, I study medieval history. On that standard the film would rate zero stars. On the other hand, this is truly fine cinema. So I will go with the latter over the former.
Let's start with the bad. This film has nothing to do with history. When I say "nothing" I mean that there are some correct names but that is about it. William Wallace was the son of a Lowland knight. He never besieged York, much less took it. The princess the film suggests he had an affair with was about 8 years old at the time of Wallace's death. His death was not a public ceremony and execution. There were no flaming bogs. No one painted their faces blue -- PERIOD! Most of the clothing styles shown are from a couple hundred years later. Robert the Bruce never fought with the English. I could keep going. The point here is that you have to assume that the film takes place in a parallel dimension where there happens to be a country called Scotland, there happens to be another country called England, there happens to be a man named William Wallace and he fights against the country of England.
In other words, don't try to take this for reality in the slightest.
Conversely, this is a whopping great bit of cinematic grandeur!
Gibson brings real conviction to his role. So does Patrick McGoohan (there is an enemy truly worthy of loathing!). One of the marvelous touches of this film is that every time you are back in Scotland you see sweeping panoramas of the land -- the feeling is a true love of country. When the action switches back to the English, you are inside of castles or rancid small towns. Gibson/Wallace if fighting for a land; Edward/McGoohan is fighting for power. Even the cinematography makes this obvious.
The battle scenes are gruesome, gutwrenching, and truly awe-inspiring. No one just clutches his chest and dies here -- be forewarned, the battle scenes were only one-upped in their gruesome reality by "Saving Private Ryan". These are not scenes for the squeamish. On the other hand even this pounds home the notion that the Scots are fighting FOR something -- under-equipped, undermanned, they are willing to fight toe-to-toe with their enemy as long as their are led by someone with conviction. Gibson's Wallace gives that conviction. "Where are you going?" "I'm going to start a war."
This is a film that drags you in and keeps you hooked. You care about the good guys. You care about the bad guys, too, but in a very different way ("Hmmm, if I could do something vicious to Edward I, what would I do?"). This is a film of high drama and a few other the top performances (like that mad little Irishman). If you like sweeping action films like "Lawrence of Arabia", this film will draw you in. History it is not; grand cinema it is.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Braveheart Blu-ray, August 30, 2009
By 
I just got my hands on a early released copy of Braveheart on Blu-ray from my local Blockbuster Video rental store and the film looks and sounds great. Its transfer to HD surpassed any other I have seen on DVD. Using the MPEG-4 AVC video codec, the video imagery is very sharp without the use of any edge enhancement (or least any I could notice) and the colors are very strong but natural looking. It looks pretty good for being an old movie. The 5.1 Dolby True HD audio is powerful and full during the battle sequences and generally good during the rest of the film. I will definitely purchase this movie on Blu-ray disc once it is released. I recommend it.
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104 of 134 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ENTERTAINING BUT FLAWED, January 11, 2002
By 
Mr. N. Carnegie (Kirkcaldy, Scotland, UK.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Braveheart (DVD)
Before you slaughter me for giving Braveheart only three stars (actually I'd give it three and a half), let me start by putting my review into some kind of perspective. Not only am I Scottish, born and bred but like all Scots I am extremely patriotic and proud of my country's heritage and its history, particularly the likes of William Wallace. I also acknowledge that Braveheart (and Rob Roy) undoubtedly gave our tourism industry a great boost, particularly with the number of American visitors and for this I am truly grateful BUT, not only is Braveheart a historically questionable account of the events surrounding William Wallace's rebellion against the English in defence of Scotland's 'Freedom!', the modern and truly cheesy dialogue totally spoilt this movie for me.
I could give you a very long list of historical inaccuracies to justify why I'd only give Braveheart three stars: First off, there is the fact that Mel Gibson is about a foot shorter than the great big hairy man that was William Wallace (but that doesn't actually interest me). Or the fact that the actual battle that Wallace defeated the English was called the Battle of Stirling Bridge, yet there is no sign of a bridge in Braveheart. Or, what about the fact that the `prima nocta' (legislation allowing English overlords to sleep with Scottish women on their wedding night) just did not exist. Perhaps the most ludicrous suggestion is that Princess Isobelle's child (the future Edward III) was sired by Wallace. Not very likely unless she was impregnated at about the age of four and had a twenty year long pregnancy. Actually there are so many historical inaccuracies I could go on and on BUT I DON'T REALLY CARE ABOUT THE HISTORICAL INACCURACIES or the dodgy Scottish accents. I can even forgive the fact that Robert The Bruce (Scotland's greatest ever king and much more famous Scottish hero) is portrayed here as quite a weak, indecisive and possibly even cowardly character. I can also forgive the misguided patriotism that Braveheart has stirred in the uneducated and uncultured part of Scottish society, who didn't even know who Wallace was before Braveheart, and the fact that the councillors of Stirling have erected a horrible tacky dwarf sized statue at the foot of the Wallace monument that closely and embarrassingly resembles Mel Gibson.
What bothers me most, and detracts from my enjoyment of Braveheart, is the truly awful dialogue. I don't think I actually realised just how cheesy it was until I saw it second time around but it really makes me wince. Blame for this lies solely at the feet of Randall Wallace (no relation) who wrote the screenplay. This is the same man who was subsequently responsible for The Man In The Iron Mask (with Leonardo DiCaprio); its dialogue is also far too modern and also extremely corny. It's so bad it's almost on a par with Titanic.
Don't get me wrong BRAVEHEART IS AN ENTERTAINING MOVIE and I'm very glad Mel Gibson made it, but it just isn't culture and it just isn't brilliant. It's a good entertaining movie, better than average and it has a lot of other things going for it. For example, good supporting performances from the likes of Patrick McGoohan, Catherine McCormack, Brian Cox, Sophie Marceau and James Cosmo). THE BATTLE SCENES ARE EXTREMELY DRAMATIC, EXCITING, WELL FILMED AND DIRECTED. The music is also excellent, the scenery is beautiful (although some of it was actually filmed in Ireland because it was cheaper). As a patriotic Scotsman, I'd truly love to say this was the greatest movie ever made and I wish I could but unfortunately I just can't get past the truly awful dialogue and personally in terms of Scottish historical movies I'd have to recommend Rob Roy.
***1/2 stars.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accuracy in a Movie? Are you kidding?, March 13, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Braveheart (DVD)
I don't know why people blast this movie for not being historically accurate. I don't think that was the intention of the movie from the start. I mean did anyone blast Shakespeare in Love for being inaccurate? Its a movie, and anyone trying to learn about history based on movies are really not right in the head to begin with IMO. Like those people who watched Malcolm X and think they know everything about him, sad. Anyway it is a great film, and though there are stereotypes, its nothing more than anyother movie. The difference for Braveheart was that one of the 'bad guys' was homosexual, and heaven forbid we portray any homosexual character in any movie as bad. Sure we can do it for the obese or white males or maybe even the old, but not homosexuals. And CERTAINLY not English, we all know how nice and loving England was back in the old days of feudalism. The point is everyone, regardless of race, creed, or whatever, is HUMAN. No one is perfect and just because you are a part of a minority doesn't make you instantly kind and gentle and loving. Anyway, as long as people realize this is just a MOVIE and not a history lesson, they can find great action and wonderful acting in this epic film.
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32 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Movie, even with Historical poetic license, November 28, 2000
This review is from: Braveheart (DVD)
You've probably read many other reviews by now.
The Scots (particularly Lowland and Boarder Scots, who historically were involved in the events depicted in the events in this movies)...more likely than not, dressed like the Saxons they were (no kilts, but wool tunics and "tartan-like" cloaks). The princess was a six-year old girl. William Wallace, in his lifetime wasn't much of supporter of the Bruce. Woad face paint wasn't worn at the time. These are all the "true" facts regarding this story that many of the severly misguided critics of this film rely on to discourage you from spending your hard-earn money on this film.
Now...heart thumping drama, edge of seat situations, larger than life heros that are the same time mortally human. Love, Romance, Patriotism, Revenge, War, Intrigue, Commeraderie, vile and despicable villains. All around well cast characters, with joyous liberties taken to make an already legendary story and enhance the romance of it--complete with Kilts and Bagpipes. If that is what you want, then Braveheart delivers. I rue the cold-hearted and loveless individuals who find this movie dull and trite. If you have a true passion for life and living, then you will love this movie if haven't seen it. If you have some Scots in your blood, you'll be brimming with pride.
I don't watch movies to learn history, but sometimes a movie will inspire me to learn the truth. And though liberties were taken to have the movie appeal the largest number of viewers, I didn't feel my ancesters (some of whom faught in the battles depicted) were done any wrong. (In fact, they probably would have loved this retelling of what is now a legend and part of the National Myth of Scotland.)
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The heart of freedom, December 4, 2006
By 
Ian (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Braveheart (DVD)
Braveheart took a pretty routine story and told it in a fresh way, and the right way. William Wallace grew up a victim of tyranny, matured into its rawest response, and died its martyr. But don't be fooled by the epic simplicity of Braveheart. There's some heavy stuff here. This isn't a story about revenge or about finding a better leader, but about finding a bigger cause.

William Wallace, played by Mel Gibson, is not caught up in freedom: he embodies it. Some of what he does is over the top, but it has to be. In the business of winning freedom, there's no room for compromise. Yet Wallace never lays out its treatises, either. Freedom, like William Wallace, is almost tainted by its explanation. Some issues can't be addressed: they can only be forced. Otherwise you might find yourself heading down the path of the Scottish nobles who could only see survival and regional power while accepting the overlordship of the English king as just a price to pay, all the while thinking it to be freedom. But in bursts Wallace, challenging them to change their thinking and to be truly free instead of sufficiently secure in the shadow of a foreign king. He parries the usual talk of negotiation and compromise with quick, decisive truisms, hoping someone gets it. The princess of Wales offers land and titles for a truce, because "peace is made in such ways." "SLAVES are made in such ways," he shoots back. Robert Bruce explains that Scotland needs the nobles. Wallace retorts, "Men don't follow titles: they follow courage." End of topic. No elaboration. You either get it or you don't.

King Edward the Longshanks is skillfully underplayed by the acclaimed Patrick McGoohan. It must be tempting to overdo "the most ruthless king in England's history", but it takes someone with McGoohan's talents to convey him as an ominous cloud rather than furious weather. The showdown is a test of Wallace's strength in torture while King Edward lays in pathetic health in his chamber, and within earshot of Wallace's final, defiant plea.

Edward may have been Scotland's arch-enemy, but the problem was the compromising, negotiating Scottish nobles who really couldn't see what their mindset was doing to their own people. We don't really hear what the Scottish people thought of their nobles, but the events of the story help us figure it out: they were willing to forego fighting between the clans and the nobles they supported for the claim to the Scottish throne, all under English overrule, and follow a true leader who would unite them and throw off the English altogether. It's not that the people were just as "bad", but rather were just as "confused". You get the sense that it would have gone on forever had not a William Wallace come along, encouraging them to open their eyes, and catching them up in his uncompromising, lusty charge for freedom. Again, nothing really complicated here; but it's the usual way of doing things that makes that impossible to see.

The film gets gory. The battle scenes, various throat cuttings, etc. are not for the weak of heart. But they underlie the spirit of the story. No compromise sometimes means exactly that.

But the film is also beautiful. The rustic and spectacular Scottish land is more than just background. You get the sense that it's a character in the film, silently urging her Scotsmen to unshackle her from English chains.

I thought the story of Wallace and the princess of Wales went too far. Given her arranged marriage to the sodomite prince, it's easy to see why she would be taken with Wallace, a true man capable of true love. He uplifted her, and she opened her eyes and helped out. I think it should have been left at that. That they consummated their affections reduced both characters, especially Wallace. And it really took away from his seeing his late wife just before the axe came down on his neck.

Otherwise, and with great simplicity, Braveheart is a fine story that will and make you think and will inspire you to unshackle something that chains you. Don't we all need something like this from time to time? Like the nobles, we tend to think of the usual way of doing things and never see the cost to our souls because we don't think to look to its God-given urgings? We'd rather be comfortable. It's easier to overthrow a tyrant than a bad idea. Can't we all think of things in our lives that need a William Wallace kicking the door in more than a polished diplomat looking for a negotiated truce that won't last and won't address the heart of the matter? Braveheart one of the few movies I own, and I watch it when I need a little unshackling of my own. Because sometimes we need a heart for something before we can ever hope to have a mind for it. We just have to open our eyes.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BRAVO FOR THE NEW COLLECTOR'S EDITION, April 14, 2008
Braveheart is one of my favorite films of the 90's but I had never purchased it on DVD because the original release was so skimpy in terms of extras. It had only a commentary track and a 30-minute making of feature. Paramount has finally beefed up the DVD with a two-disc set featuring several new extras. While it is not overflowing, it's light years better than the original release.

The film tells the story of 13th century Scottish patriot and rebel, William Wallace (Gibson) who unites the various clans of Scotland to fight for their freedom against the English. England had used the turmoil of the previous Scottish king's death to gain a stronger foothold in the country. When an English Sheriff makes an example of Wallace's love, Murron, by slitting her throat, Wallace leads a bloody revolt on the local garrison and exacts his revenge on the local magistrate.

Wallace becomes the inspirational leader of the Scots, even though others have a greater claim to the Scottish throne, such as Robert the Bruce. Wallace leads his men on various guerilla raids against the English, culminating in one of the bloodiest battles ever filmed. Heads and limbs are severed, skulls are crushed, and arrows pierce throats. Rarely had the carnage of battle been so accurately and beautifully shot.

In many ways, Braveheart was like one of those grand Hollywood epics of the 50's and 60's like Spartacus or Ben-Hur. Outstanding performances and sweeping landscapes punctuate the film that won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Say what you want about Gibson's politics and opinions on ethnic groups...he' still one hell of a filmmaker.

Certainly the film took liberties with history but even the real Wallace's life is shrouded in mystery and much of it comes from a poet who wrote the tales over a hundred years after Wallace's Death. As good as Gibson was in the lead role, my favorite performance was Patrick McGoohan as King Edward I. McGoohan's crusty and callous portrayal cut an intimidating figure onscreen. He cannot contain his disdain for his homosexual son and in one memorable scene, tosses his son's lover out a window to his death. This is an outstanding film that holds up view after view.

Now...as to the extras...

The Gibson commentary is back on this new DVD and is insightful because you're not only getting commentary of the lead actor, but also of the Director and Producer as well as Gibson wore all three hats.

The original DVD had a 30-minute making of Documentary. The new disc has a 49-minute making of documentary. Having not seen the original, I don't know if any of the material is repeated, but the new documentary has comments from Gibson both currently and from 1995 and he shares the fact that he originally passed on doing the film.

"A Writer's Journey" is a 21:30 featurette about the writing of the story by Randall Wallace.

"Tales of William Wallace" is a 30 minute documentary about the true William Wallace with comments from various historians.

There is also a 14:30 featurette with interviews with the cast members done back while the film was shooting.

All in all, Paramount has finally given Braveheart fans a DVD release that is worthy of the film.
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Braveheart [VHS]
Braveheart [VHS] by Mel Gibson (VHS Tape - 1996)
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