The Many Sins of Braveheart
Over at tor.com, there is a semi-regular column about medieval movies and their relative lack of accuracy. Sometimes, such as in “A Knights Tale” (2001, staring Heath Ledger) the anachronisms are used to a purpose - showing by use of modern rock and portraying a tournament as an exciting event much like your favorite professional sport ball game would be today. Other times, though, there is no such excuse. Other times, it’s “Braveheart”…
This is your fault.
You bugged me on Twitter, at cons, at every moment you could. “What about Braveheart?” you asked. “Braveheart is accurate, right?”
Well, in all honesty, I have some fond memories of the movie—that “insane Irishman” being one of them—but I also recall plenty that makes my historical heart cringe.
To be fair, though, it’s been many years since I watched Braveheart, Mel Gibson’s Oscar-winning 1995 film starring Mel Gibson as Scottish independence fighter William Wallace. Maybe it’s not as bad as I think it’ll be.
So let me fire up the DVD and see how this goes.
Hold on. Let me grab a Scotch.
Actually, the bottle.
Ok. Ready. Pressing ‘Play.’
So the film opens to scenic footage of Scotland, and even if my family didn’t have Scottish roots I’d be a big fan of such scenery. I love the beauty of stark landscapes, and Scotland has it in spades. On the historical side, though, it’s pretty strange that this opening scenery appears to all be from the West Highlands, which has little to do with Wallace’s life and career.
From what I recall, though, this is going to be the least of the historical sins in Braveheart.
If you enjoy history and medieval matters, you owe it to yourself to read Michael Livingston’s works over at Tor. They are a delight that is well worth your time.