My Favorite Movies – Braveheart

“Freedom!” – Mel Gibson as William Wallace

My Favorite Movies:

Braveheart (1995)

Two tapes always seemed like a lot.

BraveheartSo when I finally purchased Braveheart on VHS, I was surprised to find out it was so long. I didn’t remember it to be such an undertaking when I saw it in the theater. In fact, it seemed to go buy pretty quickly.

There was a reason for that. Before Mel Gibson went bat-shit crazy, he was known for being an excellent director (and, also, for being Mad Max). Before he was exposed as an anti-Semite, he was the man who made Braveheart.

Now, you’ll see a pattern with the movie’s I’ve chosen. They’re rather Anglocentric. There’s a reason for that – I enjoy British history, and therefore enjoy films that tell the stories of Ye Olde England.

But Braveheart came before I was a fan of English history. It must have come before I was a fan of bitter irony and dry humor, as well; Braveheart’s story is as basic as can be, a chest-pounding, patriotic piece of Scottish propaganda framing a tender married-and-lost love story. It’s a young man watching his family, his only love and his country die. All in the span of a few years. Rough life – no wonder he wanted revenge.

No, it’s not technically historically accurate. That final battle? It happened on a skinny bridge, not on a large, borderless field. Wallace himself? Probably not as well built. And certainly not American. Duh.

Still, sappy as it seems, Braveheart is anything but. It’s bloody, and it’s brutal. It’s also well paced and surprisingly agile, bounding through three hours as if an episode of 60 Minutes. Aside from Mel Gibson, I couldn’t tell you a single actor in the movie. But who cares – the real show is William Wallace himself.

Agony. Revenge. Release. Pop it in and watch it again.

The Top Five Winners of the Oscar for Best Picture

1. Braveheart (1995) – See above.

2. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003) – Take away the hour long closing sequence, and you’ve got a hell of a way to end a trilogy.

3. Schindler’s List (1993) – I first watched this at 11 o’clock at night. Before long, it was nearly two in the morning. I stared at a blank, blue screen for another ten minutes or so, feeling guilty about going to sleep.

4. Godfather II (1974) – The better of the two movies, thanks to Robert DeNiro.

5. American Beauty (1999) – One party creepy dad. One part manic mom. One part beautiful dry humor and cynicism.

This was lovingly handwritten on February 20th, 2008