Over the past decade, Hollywood has begun to turn to history as the source of inspiration for some of its award-winning movies. Most, if not all, of these films would be promoted by the producers, directors and even actors of the film as those that are as close to historical accounts and documentations about these events and individuals. Although this may be the case, a portion of the scenes shown in movies based on events and prominent individuals in history have been included in order to add to the drama and action to the film even if the scene does not have any historical documentation to support the scene to be included.
In some cases, certain parts of an otherwise historical event may also be changed in order to make it more striking and memorable to the audience. The paper will provide an analysis on the accuracy of the events presented in the Academy Award-winning movie “Braveheart” starring Mel Gibson. The paper would provide a summary of important key points presented in the movie. Specifically, the paper would look into the accuracy of the battles portrayed in the movie to research conducted by historians with regards to Sir William Wallace, the hero depicted in this epic movie.
The paper would also look into the viability of the romantic affair between Sir William Wallace and the Princess of France and the surrounding circumstances as depicted in the movie. Summary of “Braveheart” In order to analyze the accuracy of the situations and events of the movie “Braveheart”, a summary of the movie must first be provided. The film begins in Scotland in the year 1280 AD. The death of the king of Scotland left the country without a ruler of its own as the king did not have a son to leave the kingdom to.
As a result, the rulers from neighboring countries began to compete with each other for the crown and ownership of the kingdom of Scotland. The most formidable of these competitors was Edward the Longshanks, king of England. His claim over Scotland was met with hostility from the commoners of the land. In order to extinguish any retaliation on the part of the common people of Scotland, Edward the Longshanks arranged a meeting whereby each leader of the different shires of Scotland were invited to attend, allowing them to bring along only one page as their companion.
Among those who have been invited was a commoner named Malcolm Wallace who decided to take his eldest son, John, with him to the meeting. They were delayed to arrive to the meeting as Malcolm had to convince his youngest son, William, that he was still too young to go to the journey with them. Upon their arrival, Malcolm Wallace had realized that his son’s persistence had saved him from walking into a trap that had been orchestrated by Edward the Longshanks. All the attendees in the supposed meetings were hung inside the cottage where the meeting was supposed to have taken place, including the women and children.
William, who had tried to follow his father and brother to the meeting, saw the brutality of the scenario – a vision that had left a lasting mark to the young boy (“Braveheart”). The brutality of the scene prompted Malcolm Wallace to stir some of the leaders in the shire to attempt a violent response for what Edward the Longshanks had committed to their fellow men. Unfortunately, the effort was a failed attempt, and Malcolm and his son were killed in the battle. On the day that his father and brother were buried, his uncle, Argyle, took him into his care (“Braveheart”).
The film then fast forwards to a few years later. Edward the Longshanks, in his quest to rule over all of Europe, formed an allegiance with his rival, the King of France, through the marriage of the latter’s daughter to Edward the Longshank’s son and heir to the throne. Meanwhile, in Edinburgh, the Scottish nobles had formed a council. Included in the council was the 17th Earl of Bruce named Robert, who has been considered to be the leading contender to the crown of Scotland. Among the topics that begun to concern the council was the issuance of the decree of prima nocte by Edward the Longshanks.
This gave nobles who have sworn their allegiance to the King of England the privilege to sleep with any newly married common woman on the first night as a married woman. This was done in an effort to encourage more Scottish nobles to swear allegiance to the King of England which then would lead to the surety of Edward the Longshank’s hold over Scotland (“Braveheart”). It was around this time that William Wallace, now an adult, returns to the shire that he had left when he was a young orphan.
He reunites himself with Hamish, his childhood friend and the young woman named Murron who, during his father and brother’s burial, offered him a flower as a sign of sympathy. Because of the prima nocte decree, William and Murron married in secret and thus allowing William the privilege that most other men in the shire had been deprived of (“Braveheart”). The turning point for the pace of the movie and the life of William Wallace occurred just a few days after his secret marriage.
A soldier of the English crown attempted to force himself on the young woman, but she had fought and, through the help of William, freed herself but only for a while. She was eventually caught by the soldiers and was executed in front of the entire town as an example on what would happen to them should they try to oppose any representative of the king of England, be it a soldier or a noble since according to the nobleman, an opposition to any individual representing the king of England is an opposition to the King himself (“Braveheart”).
The death of Murron and the reasoning of the noble had caused William Wallace to begin a revolution beginning in his own town. His passion and determination to rid the country of the English had made a lot of Scottish commoners take up arms and join him in his cause. Town after town, he and his band of men which eventually led to the joining of the forces of the Scots and the Irish, had made the townspeople consider him as a legend and tales began to spread about him (“Braveheart”).
News had reached the King of England and sent his daughter-in-law, the Princess of France, as an ambassador to negotiate some form of truce and ceasefire with William Wallace, who by now had been knighted by the Council of Scots, headed by Robert the Bruce. Wallace declined the offer of Edward the Longshanks by relaying to the future queen the haunting scene that he had stumbled on when he was a boy and when the King of England first offered a truce to the people of Scotland.
Not only did the Princess of France become amazed by the intelligence that Wallace had exhibited, but she also began to grow fond of him in a romantic way (“Braveheart”). When she returned to London and delivered the message of William Wallace to the king, he decided to go into war with Wallace again. This time, he was to have a larger army by tapping into the allegiances that he had formed through the years. When news of this reached William Wallace through the help of the Princess of France, Wallace went to the Council of Scots to ask them to join their cause.
Initially, Robert the Bruce gave Wallace his word and so did the other members of the council. However, on the day of the battle, Wallace first experienced betrayal when he saw two of the council men that showed up with their respective armies had turned around after being bribed by the King of England, and then later when he discovered that Robert the Bruce himself was fighting alongside the King of England as well (“Braveheart”). Upon seeing the effects of his betrayal to Wallace, Robert the Bruce was overcome with guilt and as a means to try to amend for his betrayal, helped Wallace escape the battlefield.
This allowed Wallace to take revenge on the two noblemen who have betrayed him in the battlefield (“Braveheart”). With news of Wallace’s escape reaching the King of England, another attempt was made on his life. This plot was overheard by the Princess of France, who again warned Wallace of the assassination attempt. Unfortunately, the third time, Wallace was finally apprehended. Robert the Bruce sent word to William Wallace that he would like to talk and make amends for his previous betrayal.
Still trusting the Bruce, and realizing the need for a larger army to continue the cause, Wallace went to the residence of the Bruce alone and unarmed. Unknown to both Robert the Bruce and William Wallace, the other members of the Council, through the guidance of Robert the Bruce’s father, made arrangements to hand William Wallace over to the King of England (“Braveheart”). William Wallace was tried for high treason against the King of England and was sentenced to be executed the following day. Knowing about this, the Princess of France begged for the life of William Wallace to the King of England as he lies on his deathbed.
When the king refused to grant the request of the princess, she then made it known to the dying king that she was pregnant with the child of William Wallace, his mortal adversary (“Braveheart”). Wallace suffered a horrendous and slow death through a process called hung, drawn and quartered. With his last breath, he shouted with all his might the word “Freedom”, a cry that stirred the hearts of his comrades who witnessed his execution in the crowd. After he was beheaded, the body of William Wallace was cut into pieces and placed in different locations to serve as a warning to anyone who tries to go against the King of England.
His head was situated on London Bridge, while his arms and legs were sent to the four corners of England. The movie ends with the narration on how instead of deterring any form of resistance towards the crown of England, the opposite had actually happened. In the year 1314, despite the Scottish army headed by Robert the Bruce were lacking in resources and heavily outnumbered, had won the freedom of their land from English rule in the battle that occurred on the field of Bannockburn (“Braveheart”). Analysis of the Accuracy of “Braveheart”
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