Monday, September 12, 2011

Movie of the Week – Braveheart

This week’s movie is Braveheart (1995).

The pseudohistorical action drama is about William Wallace, a Scottish commoner who unites 13th Century Scots in the battle to overthrow tyrannical English rule. The film is directed by and stars Mel Gibson (for which he won an Oscar), and features an iconic score from James Horner (one of my favorites from the 90s), brilliant cinematography from John Toll (probably not as good as his work on The Thin Red Line, but close – and he won as Oscar for it) and good production design from Thomas Sanders. As a teenager, I utterly loved this movie – every part of it – it was my favorite movie of all-time. Now, having seen a lot more stuff and grown up a bit, I still really like the film and find it wholly entertaining, but its overbearing Hollywood narrative structure lessens my overall admiration of it. Gibson and screenwriter Randall Wallace (and if you have seen any of his other films, it is abundantly clear that he buy into the Hollywood structure mind-body-and-soul) craft the film to elicit and dictate the audiences emotional interaction with the film, manipulating the audience (something great directors do as well, but here it is far more blatant). Now having seen more films from better filmmakers, I find it heavy handed and a bit forced. It is also hard to take Gibson serious now, which hurts the film as well – given he is in almost every scene. All that aside, it is still among my favorite films (especially among action/war). Gibson is good in the film, among my favorite work of his as an actor (but again, his antics since have hurt the film in the present). The supporting work of James Cosmo, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, David O’Hara, and especially Brendan Gleeson and Angus Macfadyen (who I to this day still call The Bruce) is fantastic. Braveheart won the 1996 Best Picture Oscar and personally has a ton of nostalgic appeal for me. It is a must see for fans of historical dramas (though, much of the history in the film is wrong), war movies and action films. Check out the trailer.

Available on Blu-ray, DVD, Streaming and to Rent

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