Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 363 - Braveheart

Braveheart (1995) directed by Mel Gibson

What is the most times you've ever watched a movie? I'm not merely speaking in hyperbole when say I've seen Braveheart literally dozens (though probably not an exact multiple of twelve) of times. I first saw this film in a theatre in Texas when I was visiting my grandparents. (I remember me and my brother would get dropped off at the theatre and we'd movie-hop all day. If we timed it right, we could watch like five movies in one day.) Back in 1995 I was eleven years old so I'm pretty sure this was my very first sweeping epic that I saw and I remember crying uncontrollably when SPOILER ALERT Mel Gibson gets tortured and killed at the end. Fast forward a couple of years when we first got HBO and there was this stretch where Braveheart would play literally every single day and without fail I'd always watch it. I could even recite most of the lines and this is a three hour movie. Needless to say I was a little obsessed and since then I've always cited this film as my favorite movie of all time.

Well, over the years my fervor for the film has died down a bit as I've seen better movies but I'm pretty sure I've never loved a film as much as I loved Braveheart as a kid. I don't think it is even physically possible. I will say though that this film isn't nearly as great as I once remembered, but it is still awesome in my eyes. One of the things the film suffers from is overly manipulative sentimentality and cliches. But even in knowing that I still can't help but be moved by the powerful themes of freedom, love, loyalty and heroism. The one thing that can never ceases to move me, provided it isn't completely awful, are acts of self sacrificing heroism and the William Wallace mythos of this film is pretty much second to Jesus in that regard.

Logically some things in the film do not compute. Why would Robert the Bruce himself be the one to personally guard the king and joust with Wallace in the battlefield? (Obviously to film the moment of shock on Wallace's face when he realizes he's been betrayed. I remember when I saw that scene as a kid and it broke my heart, but now I sort of think there's no way it would happen that way.) Isn't it a little too convient for the French princess to fall for Wallace? Maybe, but hey it is a movie after all. But even with these minor things creating some white noise, you still can't deny the epic scope and entertainment value of this film. The medieval battle scenes are still some of the best ever filmed. The cinematography is splendid and the costumes and set pieces all look authentic. It may take liberties with historical accuracy but that is hardly relavent. Much of what we know about the real William Wallace is based on myth and hearsay anyways, so this film just celebrates his myth. Plus, it still blows away just about every other period piece epic, especially the overrated Gladiator that for whatever reason Braveheart is always compared to. Seriously, eff Gladiator.

Grade: A

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