United Kingdom

How do the Scots feel about the movie "Braveheart"

Review of the Scot about the painting "Braveheart" with Mel Gibson

Personally, I liked the film "Braveheart" as a whole, although it did not catch on. But I've always wondered what the Scots themselves think of this film full of historical details and a certain pride in the courage and determination of the Scots.

Since the first time I saw the film directed by Mel Gibson starring Mel Gibson, I have learned about several positions, but clearly only one prevailed. And in my opinion, the most interesting one was described by one guy from Glasgow named Matt. His comparisons are incomparable, so I will try to convey what he said in the first person ...

Matt from Glasgow on Braveheart

In fact, I think this movie is just awful. To be honest, only three things can be called reliable in this “work”. First, there was the country of Scotland. The second was the country of England. And third, there was a man in Scotland named William Wallace. Unfortunately almost everything else is wrong.

Take the iconic blue face paint inspired by the scriptwriters from Roman sources about Caledonia. In the context of the XIV century, this paint is outdated that way by 1200 years. With this approach, it would be more logical to issue combat helicopters and night vision devices to the English army to track down rebels, or to arm the Scots with lightsabers and missile systems.

Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson as William Wallace with blue face paint

The film annoys me not only because of the spit on real historical details. In fact, it contains some kind of racist approach both to the English, who are depicted in the picture as ruthless medieval Nazi stormtroopers, and, ironically, to the Scots, who look like primitive, warlike barbarians living in a state of some noble savagery, while in reality Scotland was about the same level of development as England.

It's amazing to me how many people around the world really believe that Scotland really was like in the movie "Braveheart". Moreover, some believe that it largely remains so now! I meet Americans who are simply amazed to learn that we have cities and supermarkets, that Scotland is not all about quaint, dirty streets of small mountain villages, fights with each other over sheep, and showdowns related to clan interests.

Scots army
An army of defiant Scots before the battle

When I say that I grew up in a large metropolitan area with a population approaching 2 million and probably one of the centers of the Industrial Revolution and transatlantic trade, I am saying that I had electricity in the city long before it appeared in some American cities, they just giggle in disbelief.

This strange notion of Scotland as a medieval highland heath roamed by herds of sheep is largely cultivated by movies like Braveheart. Let's face it. "Braveheart" and "Highlander" - this is what the vast majority of people living outside of Scotland have seen and learned about Scotland.

It's amazing how many people around the world I've met whose first reaction to being Scottish was to tell me something "important" from Braveheart, emphasizing a "deep knowledge" of Scottish history. Then, as a rule, there was an attempt to somehow connect it with the topic of independence, and then words of admiration for my ancestors with blue paint on their faces. I am a reserved person by nature, but here I want to spit, turn around and leave.

Love scene from Braveheart
Scene from "Braveheart"

Neither my grandfather, nor my great-grandfather, nor my great-great-grandfather, and so on, ever smeared their faces with blue paint, and the family had nothing to do with sheep breeding.

I've met so many people, from Romanians to Californians, whose only source of information about Scotland seems to be the damn Braveheart. I am a moderate supporter of Scottish independence. But this is a difficult question and should not be reduced to a cry of "Freedom!" before running somewhere to behead the first Englishman that came to hand.

In short, I'm not a Braveheart fan. This is a colorful, but a bit silly film, which, as it turned out, disproportionately its content, influenced the perception of Scotland in the world. This is all a little ironic, given that it's an American film starring an Australian and filmed mostly in Ireland. It has a relation to Scotland, about the same as the Somali national football team to the World Cup final. Something like this…


  1. Nonsense! Here are examples of how the Scots have embraced this film! 1) Wallace Tower has a Gibson suit! 2) At the 2007 Scotland-Italy football semi-final. youtube.com/watch?v=wv9Ln5WKZRw&t=149s 7:10 Wallace's speech on the giant Hampden Stadium screen! 7:27 the famous "Fre-eeee-dom!" thousands of people in unison! It was cool! I speak as a football fan! Lump in the throat! And there are France-Scotland videos… 3) A huge number of videos of Wallace’s fiery speech, played by various people (in buses, in parks, on the school stage…) Here is just one example of hundreds (by the way, fresh only 2 years old!) ! 10-year-old boy skillfully embodied the speech scene youtube.com/watch?v=M_vICaFwM6A Look, maybe we will see him on world screens! 4) youtube.com/watch?v=WlkJTP3Pvs0 watching a movie in an outdoor cinema in Edinburgh. People are really proud! You can give more Nos. 5,6,7 ... But, in my opinion, that's enough! Although, on the vastness of YouTube you can find videos of how ordinary Scots travel to the filming locations of this Oscar-winning film! Also cool! I saw several of these. I like it! So if I were the Scottish government, I would definitely give Gibson the Order of the Thistle (a real knightly order!) for an idea that helps the Scots unite! Something like that!

    1. I completely agree with you that in Scotland itself there are quite a few people who like this film. And just the videos you cited from YouTube confirm this fact. On the other hand, a lot of things that someone likes are often not cool and useful stuff.

      Imagine a colorful film about the battle on the Kalka River, where there is no river, and Russian warriors are practically cavemen with eagle feathers in their hair, who, preparing for battle, say goodbye to their beloved bears. How would you feel about this interpretation of Hollywood?

      Same with the Gibson movie. In the battle of Stirling Bridge, which played a crucial role in it, there is no bridge, there is inappropriate blue face painting, and Wallace himself is not at all the same.

      You probably know that the real one was not just a brave country boy, but a landowner and the son of a knight who studied Latin at a monastery in Paisley, and then studied at a grammar school in Dundee. And this is only part of the "inaccuracies" that many Scots do not like. And I can understand them.

  2. Complex issue. If the plot of the film would not have been tied to Scotland, then it would not have received such fame and distribution. On the other hand, taking into account incidents, blunders, inaccuracies and free interpretation of history, the director should have sent his heroes to a world like Game of Thrones, so there would have been no questions for him. And how to combine the incompatible.

  3. Of course, the Scots know better, but I think Gibson did not claim historical accuracy, but only wanted to convey the spirit of the era and the spirit of freedom. He did it, so the film "went" in the world.

    1. What is the spirit of the era if it depicts a full-fledged medieval nation at the level of ancient savages?

  4. A brave heart is to the Scots what The Last Samurai is to the Japanese. Beautiful about the country, but in small things and not very strange and funny 😉

  5. So this is not a documentary, but a FEATURE film. It doesn't have to be true.

    1. Please explain the difference between a historical feature film and an ordinary feature film.

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