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Braveheart

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Braveheart

Starring: Mel Gibson, Patrick McGoohan
Director: Mel Gibson
Rated: R
RunTime: 177 Minutes
Release Date: May 1995
Genres: Action, War, Drama


*Also starring: Catherine McCormack, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson, James Cosmo, David O'Hara, Angus McFadyen, Peter Hanly, James Robinson



Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Brian Koller read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review

Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

BRAVEHEART is set in Scotland in the 1200s. It tells the true story of William Wallace who was a famous commoner who led his people in a rebellion against the English. The movie is of epic proportions, length and grandeur. We learn the entire history of William Wallace from the age of 8 until his death.

Mel Gibson, in what I found to be his best role ever, plays the grown up Wallace. Gibson directs the movie as well. The story is full of fascinating history of which I knew little. I have a good English history background but was surprised at what little early Scottish history I knew. Wallace wants to live in peace and ignore the English atrocities he has witnessed, but circumstances force his hand, and he declares war on the English. His battle cry is freedom and many poor people follow him in his quest. The story itself is quite compelling, and the script is excellent.

The political intrigue among the Scottish nobles makes you wonder whose side they are on. As the story unfolds, you come to realize that they are only interested in enriching themselves and do not care about their own people. They constantly counsel Wallace to compromise his ideas in order to achieve some lesser, but more practical solution. His vision is a singular one of freedom for his people. I found myself thinking of Gary Cooper in THE FOUNTAINHEAD and the similarity between his role and that of Gibson's. All of the leaders who were the "wisest" urged constant compromise on their rising young stars in both movies.

Actually, the movie most like BRAVEHEART is GETTYSBURG for both had huge and realistic battle scenes with wave after wave of humans charging each other and dying. Of course, many people will compare BRAVEHEART with ROB ROY. They are both about old Scottish heroes, and in my book, BRAVEHEART wins hands down. Finally, you may find yourself thinking of the Judas story from the Bible except here the movie has a plethora of Judases.

One example of the quality of the script is that the writer manages to introduce a very funny character without it seeming like merely a plot device, which of course it is. This character is a mad Irishman who steals every scene he is in with his dialog. I laughed out loud many times. Although there was little humor in this serious tale, there was just enough to keep me from ever tiring even though I had to stay seated for three hours.

Too often period pieces seem like merely exercises in style. I found QUEEN MARGOT to be one such movie. Here the wonderful costumes and set decoration feel totally authentic but in a natural way. I felt like I was actually in the thirteenth century where people's faces were frequently dirty and in general personal hygiene was minimal. When they made their kills in battle or in revenge, I could sense how close they were to animals then. The blood would splat on their faces, and they could just as easy have been wolves.

I have been to Scotland many times and it is gorgeous. In a low key but quite impressive way, the cinematography makes one feel the beauty and the isolation of countryside. The music with the recurring and haunting melody of the lone Scottish bagpipe sets a sad and yet serene tone and mood.

BRAVEHEART runs a long, but well worth it, 2:52. I would not want it shorten. It is rated R, but NC-17 would be more appropriate. It is THE goriest movie I have ever seen and that too I would not change because it allows one to vicariously live through what actual battles in that period would be like. Please be warned that you will see almost every part of the human body being chopped off or stabbed in one scene or another. Imagine any physical horror, and there is probably a scene of it in BRAVEHEART. Nevertheless, there was not one scene where I thought the violence was gratuitous. I would let older teenagers see the movie, but would be careful with impressionable younger ones. I give BRAVEHEART a strong recommendation and award it *** 1/2. Don't miss it.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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