5. Do you think that this film explores its historical events and people through a human angle which gets you more involved with the historical characters as portrayed in this film? If so, how does it accomplish this?
To my mind, the film Braveheart really explores the historical events and people through a human angle and gets the audience more involved with the historical characters portrayed in the film than with the events, which have many historical inconsistencies. Firstly, the important fact is that the whole story is described through the point of view of the great and brave warrior and patriot of Scotland Robert the Bruce, the follower of well-known fighter for freedom William Wallace. The audience becomes absorbed by the life of the main character William Wallace since his childhood and sympathizes with him as his parents were killed. Such beginning of the story depicting childish sufferings and tears cannot leave people indifferent. Therefore, the filmmaker lets people trace the rise and development of hate towards the English soldiers in his soul. Moreover, it is human nature to feel compassion and psychological closeness to the situations, events, and feelings, which are familiar and understandable to them. Consequently, the fact that love is a familiar feeling to the greater part of adults makes the story of Wallace’s love towards Murron exceptionally touching for the audience. Since the feelings of love, hate, and patriotism are only human qualities, Mel Gibson as the director has emphasized the feelings of the protagonist towards his beloved woman, and his hate towards the evil English conquerors as the definitive factors, which have pushed him to struggle. The scenes depicting the everyday life of the main hero, the details about the “ius primae noctis,” the English soldiers and noblemen’s attitude towards Scottish people let the audience realize the feelings of the humiliated nation at this historical period. The violence and the bloody scenes, which emphasize the aggression against peaceful inhabitants of the Scottish land, contribute to the viewers’ negative attitude to the enemies of the Scottish patriots. Hence, the movie Braveheart not just gives historical facts or tells a historical tale, but it also focuses on the development of an individual with an extraordinary story and human relations. In addition, Mel Gibson emphasizes the human qualities peculiar for English and Scottish people on the examples of their leaders, whereas the Scottish nation appears to be more noble and courageous than its enemies. Such depiction of the events, which concentrates on the human aspect, causes a more emotional perception of the film by the audience.
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6. Are there any famous historical figures portrayed in this film? If so, who are they? Has your understanding of these famous people been changed because of the way they have been portrayed in the film? Why? Explain
The film portrays famous historical figures like William Wallace, King Edward I, Prince Edward, Princess Isabella, Robert the Bruce. In general, the movie has not changed the overall judgment of these characters. William Wallace and well-known Robert the Bruce are appreciated as courageous and patriotic persons, King Edward I and Prince Edward – as the “bad guys,” and Princess Isabella – as a kind and intelligent woman possessing good diplomatic skills. However, the film did provided details to shape the understanding of these characters. For example, before I watched the film, I did not reflect on the childish and personal love sufferings of William Wallace as being definitive for his future deeds. Although he was a brave and courageous person, Mel Gibson has depicted him as a human who was not only victory-oriented and good warrior, but possessed the qualities of an average man, who can suffer, sympathize and love. The same features are peculiar for Isabelle. According to the historical evidences, she could not have had any love affair with William Wallace as she was only ten in the year of his execution. Mel Gibson has ignored this fact and depicted her as not only highly intelligent and diplomatic figure, but also as a weak woman, who could not stand against a strong and fearless patriotic man. Princess Isabelle warned the Scottish army about the plans of the king and English attacks and followed her heart and the feeling of justice instead of the interests of the country. This heroine reflects the qualities of an average woman rather than the character and behavior of a woman who came to the power afterwards. The figure of Prince Edward in the movie has much in common with his real character. He is a villainous coward, who has no morality, no respect towards others. He is weak and cruel like his father king Edward I, who is considered as the most violent king of England. His personality is mean according to both the historical records and Mel Gibson’s movie. The audience perceives Prince Edward even more negatively regarding the fact about his uncontrolled homosexual behavior. As for the character of Bruce, he is depicted not only as a hero, who fought for Scotland’s independence, and courageous king, but as a person who had doubts, was very dependent on his father and came to the right decision only after numerous battles, his father’s betrayal and Wallace’s death. To sum it up, the movie pushes the audience to deeper reflection on the events and links it to the human qualities of the characters.
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7. Are there any major political events that are dramatized in the film? If so, what are they? Does the filmmaker tend to oversimplify the political events depicted in the film in order to allow a wider audience to appreciate the significance of these historical events? If so, explain your reasoning.
The film dramatizes major political events, specifically the humiliation of the Scottish people by the English soldiers, the ruling of the noblemen and their privileges considering Scottish women and the first night. According to the historical facts, the rights described in the movie are quite doubtful. Moreover, the ruling of England over Scotland lasted only one year before the War for Independence has begun. Furthermore, it is quite disputable whether the ruling was as violent as it is depicted in the film. The fact of the betrayal of Bruce’s father is also very dramatic regarding the deep disappointment of the main hero. Another deep frustration can be observed in the scene when William Wallace has seen that Robert the Bruce has taken the side of the English king, who had previously promised Wallace to unite the noblemen and all Scottish clans. In general, the Battle of Falkirk is deeply dramatized. The final scene of the execution should also be emphasized as highly dramatic and tragic. The filmmaker tends to oversimplify some political events to allow a wider audience to appreciate the significance of these historical events. For example, when the negotiations between the English and the Scottish army were held, the filmmaker has added numerous funny moments, which oversimplified the scene and emphasized the style of Wallace’s communication. Although in reality, he was an intelligent and well-educated person. The Battle of Stirling Bridge is quite simplified and even amusing in some moments. The other negotiations with England, which took place in Wallace’s camp and led to love relations with Isabelle, do not coincide with reality and contribute more to the knowledge of the characters and feelings of William Wallace and Isabelle rather than to the overall story about the War for Independence of Scotland. One more fact, which is oversimplified in the movie, is the thoughts, doubts and decisions of Bruce, which are all discussed with his father. Such structure of the movie makes it easier for the ordinary people follow the development of the events and decision making. Consequently, one can make a conclusion that the filmmaker mostly dramatized the moments of betrayal and Scottish army defeat.
8. Does the film convey a sense of authenticity about the period and the people it is portraying? Which elements of filmmaking contribute to making this film seem more truthful and authentic as a period drama? (Camerawork, art direction, set design, costume design, music, etc.). Give some examples.
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The film conveys a sense of authenticity about the period and the people it is portraying. The set design, costume design, and art direction are aimed to approximate it to the end of the 13th century. The film was shot in Scotland. Therefore, the landscape and the nature contribute to the authentic image of the background of the events. The battle scenes were shot in very intense manner, realistic blood and wounds. Moreover, the extras for the fight scenes, in which the Irish troops came to support the Scottish ones, were men from the Irish Army Reserves. However, it is important to mention that there are some divergences with the history, especially the depiction of one of the most significant battles in the movie, which was the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Mel Gibson has included no bridge on the settings while it had to be the main thing to highlight the luck and strategic education of the Scottish leader, which helped him to gain the victory. Nevertheless, in this scene as well as in numerous other scenes, the distant views of the camera let one observe picturesque slopes of mountains and hills of Scotland. The motives of the bagpipe music are heard in the movie many times in order to create the atmosphere of Scotland and its authentic customs and traditions. The costumes of the Scottish warriors include the kilts and such wise the filmmaker has also emphasized their national individuality and uniqueness. However, such director’s choice can be regarded as a purposeful distortion of the facts. Since it is a well-known fact, this national costume has appeared at least two or three centuries later than the period depicted in the movie Braveheart. Together with the blue warpaint, it is a director’s imagination oriented at the more emotional perception of the events by modern people. The camerawork is quite important for the overall perception of the images in the movie. Close-ups let the audience feel and access the bloody scenes more emotionally and feel the national spirit of Scottish warriors.