Monday, February 15, 2010

#51 Braveheart: Outlawed tunes on outlawed pipes

1995. dir. Mel Gibson, starring Mel Gibson, Patrick McGoohan, Sophie Marceau, Angus Macfadyen.

Seen it before? Yes.

It's medieval times, and the English king Edward Longshanks (Patrick McGoohan) is cruel and merciless. He's trying to maintain control over Scotland, so he puts all sorts of oppressive policies in place. Like Michael Scott, he implements prima nocta, which enrages pretty much everybody. So William Wallace, played by Mel Gibson, leads a bloody rebellion against the English, and tries to get the Scottish nobles on his side.

It's a pretty good movie. One of the last of its kind made before CGI ruined everything (five years later, Gladiator came out) so the battle scenes feel more "real" than a lot of newer movies. I really had three problems with this movie:

1. Like Pocahontas, they didn't trust history to tell a good story, so they added a lot of bullshit. You should essentially disregard anything that happens with Sophie Marceau's character, because it's all total fabrication. For example, the movie implies that Wallace was the father of King Edward III, which is God damn ridiculous.

2. Everybody's too pretty. Well, except the guy with leprosy. But everyone else has perfectly straight, white teeth, and Wallace's wife (played by Catherine McCormack) looks like she just stepped out of the salon. Check out Mel Gibson's stubble, he always has exactly the same amount. Come on people, it's 1280! People bathed once a year, if that!

3. Mel Gibson. Not a good actor. I did not for one second find him believable as a medieval Scottish peasant. If he was smart he would have cast somebody with more of an "everyman" quality but I think his ego got in the way. There's a lot of shots of Mel just standing there looking all heroic and manly, while the music soars in the background, and I was thinking, OK, who directed this? "Dear Mel Gibson. You're the greatest. Love, Mel Gibson." I kept joking during the movie that he probably wanted to cast himself as Jesus in Passion Of the Christ but realized he was too old. Well, just watch the ending of this movie if you want to see Mel play Jesus.

Position on the list: 88
Did this deserve Best Picture? I'll say yes, but... 1995 was not a great year for movies. No real all-time classics like Fargo or Pulp Fiction.

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