MOTW: The Top Reasons Why "Braveheart" Remains Such a Popular Film

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
February 4th, 2013

MOTW: The Top Reasons Why "Braveheart" Remains Such a Popular Film

The story of the 13th century Scottish warrior and rebel William Wallace as portrayed by Mel Gibson in 1995's "Braveheart" is one that still captures audiences today. In fact, if anything this film is actually more popular today than it was when it was first released. After comparing "Braveheart" with the many historical war movies that have been produced since, it's not hard to see why.

"Braveheart" tells the story of William Wallace and his fellow Scottish warriors' struggles against the unjust rule of the invading English and their fight to rule themselves, which they would eventually achieve after years of poverty, violence, and oppression.

In "Braveheart," director and star Mel Gibson was able to tell a fantastically entertaining story that has everything a good action/drama should. The story is full of bloody violence, romance, and intrigue, and features an outstanding cast capable of perfectly conveying the struggle and emotion of the Scottish fight against English tyranny. Furthermore, the script is brilliantly written, and while it does take some liberties with historical facts, it nonetheless remains an almost perfect example of what a historical action film should be.

The "True" Story Behind "Braveheart"

Some critics cannot stop pointing out all of the historical inaccuracies in "Braveheart," which is somewhat of a shame. While it is true that Scottish men didn't yet wear kilts in the 13th Century and the battles featured in the film may not have gone down exactly as they appear in the film, do these things really take away from what is otherwise a cinematic masterpiece? Most film lovers would probably respond with a resounding no. After all, moviegoers know that they are watching a film interpretation of the events and certain changes must be made to keep things dramatic.

Another common complaint about "Braveheart" concerns the quite gratuitous use of violence in the film, but what else can you expect from a film about war? In fact, the violence is another area where the film actually strays from historical fact, especially if one considers the scene near the end when William Wallace is being tortured and killed. If Gibson had decided to film this scene to be one hundred percent historically accurate then there is no way the film could have been released with only an R rating, as the historical records show Wallace's torture was much more brutal than the film portrayed.

No matter how much people want to point out the creative license that Gibson took with historical facts, none of this takes away from the fact that this film is brilliant. Despite the inaccuracies, Gibson was able to create an entertaining, edge of your seat masterpiece that will most likely go down in history as one of, if not the best historical action film ever made. To nitpick and find fault with this film just because it takes a few liberties with historical facts is a shame and completely ignores the fact this is still a film and its purpose is to entertain audiences, not give them a lesson in history.

Man's Bravery in the Face of Tyranny and Oppression

One of the real reasons why "Braveheart" remains so popular today relies on, unsurprisingly considering the name of the film, the portrayal of a man's strength and bravery in the face of so much violence and oppression on the part of the English. The true value in this film lies in the character of William Wallace and how he is portrayed as standing up in the face of tyranny and fighting for what he believes in.

While it's hard to imagine anyone would call "Braveheart" a feel good movie, it nonetheless has elements that make a person proud to be a human being, and gives the feeling that anything is possible if a person believes in their convictions and stands up for what they feel is right. The true value of "Braveheart" is that it shows just how much one man can do if he fights for what he believes in.

When watching this film, it's hard not to feel the same awe and respect for William Wallace that his compatriots have and also quite easy to see why Queen Isabelle of France falls in love with him. Gibson's portrayal of Wallace shows that when a man has confidence and believes in his convictions, others will soon follow and anything becomes possible.

Overall, "Braveheart" remains one of the most exciting and breathtaking historical films ever made, and will most likely continue to be thought of in these terms for many years to come.