"They may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM!"
A 1995 film directed, produced, written by and starring Mel Gibson, Braveheart tells the fictionalized story of the legendary Scottish rebel William Wallace and his revolution against King Edward the Longshanks of England, in which he battled for the freedom of Scotland and... well...
Wallace starts as a simple farmer who only wants to live a peaceful life with his beloved wife Murron (Catherine McCormack), despite his father's death at the hands of the English. Unfortunately, he stops a rape of his wife by marauding English soldiers, and after the evil English magistrate executes her in retaliation, Wallace continues the spiral of revenge and soon the other villagers rise up as well. As the whole of Scotland is drawn into the rebellion against England, Wallace takes command of the Scottish army to kick ass... for FREEDOM!
The cast also includes Patrick McGoohan as Edward I "Longshanks", King of England, Peter Hanly as a young Edward II, Sophie Marceau as Princess Isabella of France, and Angus Macfadyen as Robert the Bruce (later King of Scotland). The film won five awards at the 1995 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
- Anachronism Stew [context?]
- Anti-Hero (Type V): Steven the Irishman.
- Wallace is a Type III Anti-Hero.
- Annoying Arrows: Zig Zagged. During Wallace's assault on the magistrate who murdered Murron, Campbell the Elder gets hit by an arrow, making Hamish stop to try and take it out, until his father hits him for his foolishness. It gets cauterized afterwards. Later, during the Battle of Bannockburn, as the English gain the upper hand with their volleys of arrows, Wallace is struck by one, making him stop, but is well enough to pursue Longshanks' knight, Robert the Bruce.
- Arrows on Fire: Justified, as they are used to ignite flaming tar.
- Artistic License: Most of the inaccuracies are supposedly deliberate for the sake of the story.
- Attempted Rape: Murron and the English soldiers.
- Badass: William Wallace.
- Badass Army: The Scotsmen.
- Badass Boast: "They may take our lives, but they'll never take our FREEDOM!" This has became a popular meme.
- Badass Grandpa: Campbell the Elder.
- Barbarian Heroes
- Battle Cry: "FREEEEEEEDOM!" and "ALBA GU BRATH!"
- The Beard: The French princess.
- BFS: Wallace's claymore. It slices, it dices, it cuts warhorses down and then takes heads off with one swing. Which is one part of the film that was somewhat close to the historical record.
- Bilingual Backfire: The princess speaks with her courtiers in Latin, but Wallace knows Latin as well as French.
- Bittersweet Ending:William Wallace gets executed in the end, but his soldiers fight on and end up winning the war.
- Black Knight
- The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: Done in the ending sequence with Wallace's claymore.
- Blood Is the New Black
- Blood Knight: Steven the Irishman. He seems to has only joined the Scots because he'll be able to kill Englishmen, not to help the Scots to get freedom.
- Bonnie Scotland: Cheesy pish abounds. Scortash people are portrayed like complete Iron Age throwbacks but they cannae help tha'selves, ken!
- Brave Scot: Of course!
- Bury Your Gays: Prince Edward's lover Philip is thrown out a window by King Edward in a scene that drew some criticism, less over the lack of LGBT-friendliness in Medieval Britain than that the scene seemed to be yet another example of Mel Gibson's well-publicized homophobia. Note also that Edward II is portrayed as as a stereotypical foppish gay man.
- Historically Edward II was rumoured to have died by having a red-hot poker shoved into his... uh... significant orifice, specifically because of the rumours about his sexuality. However, the red-hot poker story first appeared thirty years after Edward II's death and is not corroborated by any contemporary source. It became the "authorised version" only after 1430 as part of Lancastrian propaganda. Even the "fact" of Edward's homosexuality is dubious, so this is more down to Mel Gibson than history.
- To be fair though, Mel did deny that the scene was meant to portray anything other than a Kick the Dog moment for Edward I and wasn't meant to say anything about gays. Plus, though the circumstances of Edward II's death or whether he was a homosexual might be unverified, there does seem to be evidence that people at the time at least thought that he might be, due to the way he favoured certain male retainers. So this, at least, is more a case of historical ambiguity, at least compared to most of the film which is flat-out made up.
- California Doubling: For tax reasons, most of the movie was filmed in Ireland. Although it's doubtful that most American viewers noticed the difference, Ireland's rolling green hills and Scotland's rugged, mountainous landscape really don't resemble each other very much.
- And those parts of Scotland which they did use were on the wrong side of the country; they use the West Highlands, which historically played little part in Wallace's campaign.
- The scenes filmed in Ireland were actually filmed in the Wicklow Mountains, one of the many rugged and barren areas of the country. Not "rolling green hills" by any means.
- The Call Knows Where You Live: And it's going to make sure Wallace doesn't try to avoid his destiny of fighting...
- Call That a Formation?: Played depressingly straight. The Scottish infantry fought as disciplined pike formations, it was their lack of armour and cavalry which made them so vulnerable to the longbow. (Also, what wasn't in those days?) They would not have charged wildly into battle, but advanced in disciplined rows in order to push back cavalry and infantry with massed ranks. The Scots didn't win the battles where they managed to close for battle with the individually more skilled English knights for no reason.
- Chekhov's Gun / Chekhov's Skill: As a boy, William mentions to his uncle Argyle that he doesn't know Latin, to which Argyle "Well, that's something we shall have to remedy.". As an adult, Wallace tells Murron he can speak Latin as well as French. His fluency in both help him as he faces Princess Isabella and her adviser, as mentioned in Bilingual Backfire.
- Cultured Badass: Wallace.
- Despair Event Horizon: Seems to happen to Wallace after he finds out who betrayed him at the Battle of Falkirk. His previous anger instantly vanishes and he just seems to give up.
- The Determinator: Wallace during his trial. Even the English crowd, who at first calls for his blood, eventually get sick of seeing the torture and eventually start calling out for mercy. He was defiant to the end against the English.
- Did Not Do the Research / Hollywood History: So very, very much.
- Isabella of France was nine years old at the time of Wallace's death. And not yet married to Edward II. And still living in France. And first son was not born for another seven years.
- Scots had not used woad (blue battle paint) for a millennium or so and would not use kilts for several more centuries.
- Probably partially justified as the Scots were likely wearing the woad in homage to the ancient Picts who also managed drive a foreign aggressor (The Romans) from their lands.
- Er, Mel? Hello? Just FYI, the Battle of Stirling Bridge HAD A FUCKING BRIDGE IN IT!
- Arguably justified, to an extent- they were going to use the bridge, but found it was too dangerous. Which is fair, because the danger of it as a battleground is why the Scots chose it in the first place.
- Edward I and the members of his court spoke French, not English; this could be written off as part of the Translation Convention, except that the Queen and her lady are shown speaking French.
- This is actually mildly justified, as Edward greatly encouraged his nobility to speak in English and to identify as Englishmen. He was the first of the Normandy descendants to be properly labelled as a truly 'English' Monarch. While French was still the Lingua Franca of the day and of his court, his efforts were beginning to change that trend.
- The Scots won their independence at the Battle of Bannockburn after an English army had arrived to lift the Scottish siege of Stirling Castle, not after Robert the Bruce changed his mind about a peace parley.
- The existence of Primae noctis or Droit du seigneur -- the right of a Lord to take the virginity of serf maidens within his lands -- is severely questioned by historians.
- Bagpipes were not outlawed in 13th-century Scotland.
- The makers were very nearly sued by the Scottish government for this one. Robert the Bruce did NOT betray Wallace, and in fact is considered a much bigger hero than Wallace ever was (and guess what, the name "Brave Heart" was actually given to Robert, NOT Wallace). Portraying him as Wallace's betrayer is considered a worse crime than every other problem with this movie combined.
- Well, to be fair, Wallace was probably the one person Bruce didn't betray at one point or another, and that mostly because they never actually met. That, and Wallace didn't support Robert's claim to the throne- he backed John Balliol, Edward's hostage in the Tower of London and the nominal and official King of Scotland.
- Winning the Battle of Bannockburn has given Robert the Bruce a Historical Hero Upgrade for years. He was an accomplished political manipulator, and was just as brutal as Longshanks towards his enemies - he invited John Comyn to peace talks in a church, then murdered him. His army then rampaged through the Great Glen, slaughtering Comyn's supporters.
- Doomed Hometown: Seems to be the case at first, but then subverted as the townspeople rise up in rebellion and end up completely kicking the collective butts of the English soldiers who've been holding their town hostage. This scene ends up being a massive Crowning Moment of Awesome for the townspeople.
- Disposable Woman: Murron dies to set the film in motion.
- Dirty Coward: The Scottish noblemen.
- Doomed Moral Victor
- Dramatic Unmask: Robert the Bruce, while fighting on the English side.
- Droit du seigneur: Called prima nocte in this movie, instated by Longshanks to win support for the lords and to keep the Scots under their thumb. Morrison and his wife are two of many people who suffer under this, and when Morrison confronts Lord Bottoms, the lord responsible for raping his wife, during Wallace's attack on the English garrison, he invokes "the right of a husband" by killing him.
- The Dung Ages
- Epic Flail: how Wallace exacts revenge on Mornay.
- After losing his left hand at the Battle of Stirling, Campbell the Elder spends the rest of the movie using a flail.
- Et Tu, Brute?: Wallace when Robert the Bruce is unmasked at Falkirk.
- Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: Irish pipes though, not Highland.
- Evil Chancellor: Craig is this to Robert Bruce
- Expecting Someone Taller: At the Battle of Stirling:
Scottish Soldier #1: It's William Wallace.
- Possibly a Shout-Out to the historical Wallace, who was probably at least 6'8". Mel Gibson, in contrast, is only about 5'8".
- Famous Last Words: FREEDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMM!
- Fate Worse Than Death: Wallace was Hung, Drawn and Quartered for his troubles. This involved being stretched until his limbs dislocated, hung by the neck but cut down before unconsciousness set in, strapped to a table, having his innards reeled out, his private parts cut off and eventually, when his suffering had ceased to be entertaining, having his head cut off. The corpse would then be cut into four and displayed as a warning to any other would-be challengers of the Crown. Somewhat distressingly, this is one of the bits that's pretty accurate to history.
- Five-Man Band:
- Friends All Along: The Scottish and Irish troops.
- Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death!: The rousing speech.
- Go Out with a Smile
- Gorn: Mostly averted... though in the original cut, Wallace's execution by disemboweling was this.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: "ALBA GU BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATH!"
- Not really a foreign language, seeing as how they're Scottish.
- But they're speaking English the rest of the time...wait...
- Though since he was a noble from Renfrewshire (south west Scotland) Gaelic would have been pretty foreign to him... So yeah...
- Not quite. Medieval Gaelic was still, at this time, the language of the nobility and Wallace was a minor Scottish noble, after all. Then again, his family's origins were Norman, or possibly French. Nobody really knows for sure...
- Heel Face Turn: Robert The Bruce.
- Heroic BSOD: After Wallace discovers that Robert Bruce was at the Battle of Falkirk, but with Longshanks.
- Bruce himself gets one later on when his father's machinations lead to Wallace's betrayal and capture.
- Historical Badass Upgrade: William Wallace.
- Possibly Downgrade, depending on your point of view. The real William Wallace really was close to 7 feet tall for a start, and did quite a bit of the stuff he does in the film (not all of it, but it does cut out other badass feats as well). Of course, he was also a textbook example of The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized and Would Hurt a Child, but being a bastard doesn't make him not a Badass.
- The House of Plantagenet: Edward I and his son.
- Incurable Cough of Death: King Edward the Longshanks, though in reality he lived two years beyond Wallace's death. More Mel Gibson history.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Prince Edward.
- I Surrender, Suckers: How William Wallace starts his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- I Take Offense to That Last One: When Princess Isabella's adviser says, in Latin, about Wallace "He's a bloody, murdering savage. And he's telling lies.", Wallace immediately replies in Latin "I never lie. But I am a savage.".
- Kick the Dog (Longshanks repeatedly kicks the dog in his treatment of Scotland, and even throws a man out a window for being his son's lover.
- No, he throws him out the window for annoying him. Being his son's lover was only tangentially related.
- And what a kickass Kick the Dog moment that is. Patrick McGoohan is vicious in this movie.
- The Lost Lenore: Murron, see also Disposable Woman above. Not all disposable women are also Lost Lenores but Murron fits this trope as her relevance to the story doesn't end with her death. Wallace clearly still loves and mourns her, and she appears in dream sequences and flashbacks.
- Man in a Kilt: Although plaid kilts were introduced only three centuries later.
- And the Scottish didn't wear them until much later than that (and even then, they were typically saffron or brown, not plaid).
- Flashing and mooning was a combat tactic, however.
- And the Scottish didn't wear them until much later than that (and even then, they were typically saffron or brown, not plaid).
- Memento MacGuffin
- Memetic Badass: William Wallace becomes one In-Universe, promptly Lampshaded:
Young Soldier: William Wallace is seven feet tall!
- The Middle Ages
- Mugged for Disguise: Near the beginning of the film, Wallace steals the uniform off an English soldier in order to get his wife out of town.
- Later, "Were they dressed like this?"
- Multi Melee Master: In addition to his iconic claymore, William Wallace is seen to be proficient with a huge mallet, a flail (both ball-and-chain and hinged stick), a dagger, a longspear, a bow, a deer's antler, and rocks of various shapes and sizes.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Robert the Bruce suffers from this after seeing Wallace's face at the Battle of Falkirk.
- Nightmare Sequence: Mornay's dream of Wallace charging at him out of a firestorm, screaming, and replete in blue warpaint. It then becomes Nightmare Fuel for the viewer given the way Mornay is then dispatched straight afterwards.
- Oireland: Although Scotireland is obviously avoided.
- One Mario Limit: Wallace's wife was really named Marian, but it got changed to Murron to avoid confusion/comparison with Robin Hood's love interest Maid Marian.
- One Sided Battle
- Pimped-Out Dress: This film avoids Gorgeous Period Dress by reserving the fancy clothes, even for the royals.
- Playing Gertrude: James Cosmo, who plays Campbell the Elder, is only seven years older than Brendan Gleeson, who plays his son Hamish.
- The Power of Hate: After Robert the Bruce disowns his father, the Elder Robert the Bruce, and wishes for him to die, the Elder Bruce says he's now ready to be king now that he knows hate (oddly enouHgh, in addition to saying this Palpatine-esque line, the Elder Bruce also looks unnervingly like Emperor Palpatine). The Younger Bruce answers, in calm example of Shut UP, Hannibal, that his hate will die with the elder Bruce.
- Rain of Arrows: Thank goodness their shields were up.
- Rated "M" for Manly
- Refusal of the Call: Wallace refused to fight the English at first, preferring to raise a family and live a quiet farming life.
- Regional Riff
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: What happens to Wallace after finding out Murron was killed by English soldiers.
- Romance Genre Heroes
- Rose-Tinted Narrative: Lampshaded in the opening narration, as Robert Bruce says "Historians in England will say I am a liar. But history is written by those who have hanged heroes."
- Rousing Speech
- Sad Battle Music: Begins playing once Wallace realizes the two nobles he was relying on for Cavalry support instead deserts him, continues on as his own troops are killed by English arrows, until finally he discovers that Robert the Bruce also betrayed him after promising to help.
- Scenery Porn: The Scottish highlands.
- Shout-Out: In the DVD commentary track Gibson cheerfully admits to stealing the final scene between Robert the Bruce and his father, the one where the door closes on Papa Bruce, from the shot that ends The Godfather.
- Smug Snake: Practically every single British character, except Longshanks and Prince Edward.
- Sociopathic Hero: Steven the Irishman.
- Stab the Scorpion
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works
- Together in Death: Wallace and Murron. Possibly due to hallucination, possibly played straight, but for those few moments, together nonetheless.
- Unwanted Spouse
- We Have Reserves: The Trope Namer, in this case referring to Longshanks' justification, when called for one, for calling the archers to fire in the middle of a heated infantry battle -- granted, his own troops would be hit, but so would the Scots.
- Also used with sending the Irish conscript infantry in first.
Longshanks: Arrows cost money. Use up the Irish. The dead cost nothing.
- Wound That Will Not Heal: Robert Bruce's father is a leper with permanent wounds on his face.
- You Remind Me of X: Version 3. Wallace tells Isabella he was secretly married to Murron. "I don't know why I tell you now except I see her strength in you."