Dir: Mel Gibson
A lot of ‘Ock’, a fair bit of ‘Aye’ and just a wee dram of ‘Noo’…
Actually, according to historians there’s a lot more than just a dram of inaccuracy with this account of William Wallace, that starts with a young William witnessing things that no young child should, and then losing his family when they go off to fight. Years later as a grown man, William returns to his home, now educated thanks to his uncle and determined to keep out of the fighting so he can settle down with his childhood sweetheart. However the two of them elope to avoid the local lord from exercising his legal right to the first night with the newlywed bride, but this backfires when she’s captured and executed. This galvanises Wallace into fighting mode, and he uses his mix of wits and strength to build a strong army to take back “FREEDOM” for Scotland!
Now, I’m no historian, but other people are, and what they say about this film’s accuracy is very interesting! My favourite criticism is from John O’Farrell who said that it couldn’t have been any more inaccurate, even if they had inserted a plasticine dog into the film and called it ‘William Wallace and Gromit’!
Putting that aside however, the question I concern myself with is does this hold up as a good film? At the time of writing, it is 82nd on the IMDb’s top 250 films of all time, though I’m not so sure it should be that high. I’m not a huge fan of bloody battle scenes, though I’m aware that they do depict the horrors of war more accurately than scenes that shy away from the gory details, it’s still not something I like feasting my eyes upon.
The story works pretty well though, despite it apparently all being tampered with, it’s obviously been done in that way to make a succesful film, and that system clearly worked well. It won best film and best director at the Academy Awards, and made over $200 million at the box office, I have no idea how much more it made on home release but I would guess a huge amount.
It’s success lies in the fact that the writer made sure all the key elements audiences might look for was in there, including action, romance, humour, betrayal and backstabbing, a charismatic lead, and many other things that in themselves don’t always guarantee a success, but when put together almost always do.