Mel Gibson takes us back to 13th Century Scotland, in a film he directed and starred in.
Now this film is one of favourite films of all time, that been said tho, there is one or two historical inaccuracies, but I don't let them stop me enjoying this film.
Mel Gibson plays the legendary Scottish hero William Wallace. William leads the uprising against the tyrannical and cruel reign of Scotland by the English, lead by King Edward the Longshanks (Patrick McGoohan). Longshanks is trying to take the crown of Scotland for himself, but, he never counted on Wallace taking on the English invaders and been aided by Robert the Bruce (Angus MacFayden). Gibson plays Wallace like some kind of uber mythical warrior, whom also happens to have a strategic, tactical mind. He manages to get the wind up the English with his band of warriors whom help him in his quest for freedom.
This film has some amazing battle scenes, with so much gore and blood on show. These just help push the real horror of these battles, which, I feel is what Mr Gibson was going for in his direction of this movie. Some of the scenes tho are not for the faint of heart. Gibson just ups the ante of body count and blooded battlefields, the likes of which was probably never seen before, (he did win best Director Oscar for this film). The Battle of Stirling has to be the one of the most graphic pieces of cinema ever!. It also happens to be one of my favourite movie scenes ever. The Scottish army are just about to walk out before the battle has even started, In comes Mel all badass like on his horse with face-paint on in the Scottish flag colours, and delivers one hell of a speech to rally them all. Heck I even find myself looking for a sword ready to battle during this scene, but alas, I remember I'm English (cant fight myself, only Jim Carry manages that) and also that my living room window looks out onto the street!.
We can't have just non stop battle after battle tho can we?. So we have the emotional anchor for Wallace, both his father and the love of his life lost their lives to the English, which help show why Wallace does what he does. This film has quite a bit of emotion, some times I can't help but feel Wallace's pain and loss. It doesn't help that as big and strong as these warriors are they show their emotions, seriously Wallace and co shed a few tears on their quest, but you know what I don't mind, with what these guys were fighting for they can show emotion, it drives it home more.
The cast is spot on especially I thought Angus MacFayden as Robert the Bruce. This character is just so much battling with demons and unsure of himself (probably due to his aging father taking control of him). He is never sure what to do or whose side to take on. Mel is great of course but not overly sure on his Scottish accent. The ever beautiful Sophie Marceau plays the French Princess of Wales, whom happens to be another conflicted character who wants to do the right thing, I love her. Honorable mention has to go to the Legendary Brendan Glesson. Glesson plays Wallace's long life best friend and confidant, whom is always by his side, I feel it wouldn't be the same without him.
The Cinematography is wonderful, all the beautiful Scottish hills are shown to full effect in this film, one of my favourite shots is of Wallace just running round the Scottish country side, while his "Legend" grows amongst the people, its just wonderfully shot. Even the gore is shot well blood splattering everywhere during the battle scenes. Not forgetting the Music, James Horner has crafted one of my favourite movie scores of all time for this film. The sweeping majestic Orchestra pieces interspersed with Bagpipes just help drive the Movie so much, I am not ashamed to say I own the soundtrack on CD. Horner uses this music to perfect effect in so many scenes.
This film has one of the greatest movie endings of all time. The ending will make you feel so much emotion and you will find yourself shouting "FREEDOM" with William Wallace, while not surprisingly having tears in your eyes. If you have not seen this film you need to see it, it has Drama and Action galore, helped along with great Oscar winning Direction by Mel. On a personal note, its great to see a film where my home city of York is mentioned so much and playing a huge role too. Not everyday you get that in a Hollywood film.