Braveheart shows an unusually strong character of a courageous and ruthless William Wallace, the Scottish hero, who defended his country against the English during the time when Scotland had no king and they were under the reign of King Edward I, nicknamed “Longshanks”. The movie depicts his patriotism, which is entirely true, and his desire for freedom from the laws of King Edward I. He tried to avoid fighting in the beginning and aimed at raising a family and living a peaceful life, yet such goal vanished when the English soldiers killed his wife, Marion. William and Marion got married in secret the night before she was killed because they were trying to get away from the law which states that an English lord has the right to sleep with the married woman on the night of their marriage or “Right of Primo Noctur”. It means that the husband cannot consummate their marriage on the first night since the wife has to be with an English lord. That was the reason why William and Marion decided to keep their relationship in secret (from the movie, Braveheart).
When William Wallace retaliated with the English soldiers, he inspired leadership in the village giving them the courage to fight and kill all the soldiers in the area. This action encouraged other clans from the nearby mountains to join forces with him to fight the English. They went from place to place, mountain to mountain to wipe out all the English soldiers and to send their rebellious message against Longshanks. Headed by Wallace, they call for freedom against the English rules and laws. That was the start of Wallace’s patriotism and heroism -in the film (Braveheart, the movie).
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Many things were shown in the film like the betrayal of Robert the Bruce. The movie wants to capture the hearts of the filmgoers by creating protagonist and antagonist characters. In order to actually heighten the emotional impact in the movie and show Wallace’s heroism, they had to create an underdog. Nothing creates tension than a rebellious hero, an underdog that was betrayed by a class of nobility. Nobles betrayed rebellions. Several scenes in the movie were mostly based on the writings of Henry the Minstrel, better known as Blind Harry. However, the movie shows some inaccuracies as to Wallace’s heroism as compared to history.
The first inaccuracy was the film’s portrayal of the cause of Wallace’s rebellion – the killing of his wife. In history, there was no record of Wallace’s wife being killed nor was it the reason as to why he killed the English sheriff of Lanark. During this time, there was another rebellious hero who was more successful than Wallace, Andrew Murray (p. 89). He was neither depicted in the film nor mentioned and that marks another inaccuracy. Murray succeeded to clean the whole of Northern Scotland with English soldiers. His strength, courage, patriotism and leadership inspired Wallace, and they agreed to join forces to fight the English at Stirling Bridge (p. 100). Together, they won against King Edward I or Longshanks’ army. In the movie, the triumphant battles were all done in the leadership of Wallace.
Despite his contribution in Scotland’s history, Murray was not celebrated in Braveheart since the focus was on Wallace, making him an epic hero of Scotland. They portrayed him as the all-time inspiration of rebellion. His name alone could inspire people to fight for freedom. The third inaccuracy of the film was during the battle which happened on low ground (Braveheart, the movie). In history, it was on the wooden bridge of Stirling (p. 93). Wallace used the land and its natural features to win the battle. The Scottish were victorious, but Murray was wounded and must have died either during the battle or after that.
Wallace was undoubtedly patriotic, both in the film and in history. He had no intention of submitting to the English laws. One year after the victorious battle at Stirling Bridge (p. 93), he lost the battle at Falkirk (p. 147). In the movie, it was depicted that Robert the Bruce betrayed him, yet it was not the real case in history. Perhaps, the loss happened because of the relentless arrows of King Edward’s army. It deeply affected him. Thus, he decided to resign as “Guardian of Scotland”, a title given to him presumably by Robert the Bruce as was shown in the film. Then he left Scotland (p. 157). Few years after his resignation, Bruce arranged some peace plans with Longshanks without the blessing of Wallace. There were no recorded activities in history during the time of Wallace’s return to Scotland other than constantly evading capture against Longshank’s army.
The film, Braveheart, showed some accurate situations, too like Wallace’s capture and demise. He was caught, put on trial and executed for treason (p. 178). This same event happened in history as well which means that the film was accurate on this incident. However, it wasn’t known in history as who betrayed him in order to be captured (p. 176). His body was quartered, and his limbs were sent to Newcastle, Berwick, Stirling, and Aberdeen to serve as a warning to the people (p. 180). It was recorded in history and happened on 23rd August 1305. He died, yet nobody could deny his patriotism to Scotland, not driven by greed, money, title, or lands, but for his mere love of his country and freedom from the English rule.
Consequently, Braveheart’s movie makers have changed some major historic events in order to steal the hearts of millions of people. These intrigues have resulted in the enormous popularity of the movie. Those who have seen the movie had solidified the image of William Wallace in their heads as to what they see in the film, not the one found in the history of Scotland. Unfortunately, many stories are heard and written about this courageous, patriotic Scottish hero that cannot be proven with historical documents. However, historians are trying to reconcile the truth with what really happened in the past by continuously looking for evidences. In the end, one can only remember the heroic blood of Sir William Wallace that was spilled for the freedom of his land and people. His memory continually inspires the people, not just the Scottish, to continue loving their country and to guard their country against tyranny or any act that could threaten their freedom.
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