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Regular Feature | Film Reviews Ken Dvorak Bowling Green State University Braveheart: A Distant Hero for a Post-Modernist Audience? M-...___ debut in The Man Without a Face. Gibson plays Sir William Wallace, a legendary, thirteenth-century Scottish knight whose efforts at uniting his country against English tyranny made him a national hero. Wallace's struggles take place during the High Middle Ages. The age lends itself to romantic visions of chivalry, castles, minstrels singing ballads, and brave knights fighting for individual honor. The reality ofthe period was something quite different; it was a brutal time, an age marked with violence , superstition, and religious intolerance. Crushing poverty prevailed while British overlords ruled with an iron fist. In the village of Lanark, young Wallace finds his family hanged by the British while his father, seeking revenge, dies in battle. Immediately, the viewer realizes that this film is not for the squeamish. Returning to Lanark as an adult, Wallace secretly marries and peacefully lives as a farmer. That contentment becomes shattered when his wife is raped and murdered by English soldiers. Wallace avenges her death by killing the attackers. He becomes the focus of fierce British reprisals against the local citizenry. Intrigue follows Wallace's military successes and the English are successful in his capture. Critics of Braveheart tend to deplore the violence and killing; indeed , the battle scenes are brutal—with arms and heads being Paramount Pictures chopped offwith equal vigor by both sides. At two hours and fifty-nine minutes, the film runs extremely long and, even then, its sub-plots are underdeveloped. The romance between Wallace and Princess Isabelle ends the same way it started—as nothing more than political expediency. The film's thirtyminute death scene for Wallace is too long for those already anguishing over his final outcome. On the other hand, the film, in my view, is a fine attempt at recreating a thirteenth century Scottish hero for a modern audience. Gibson as director succeeds in bringing to the screen the desperate fight the Scots waged against the British. Braveheart is a film using familiar themes oftragic romance, unbridled heroism, lush photography, and a cast of thousands to tell its epic tale. Proof of this success came this March when Braveheart won Oscars as best picture and best director. If nothing else, the film was a technical and popular culture masterpiece. (For additional information about Braveheart check its web site: http:/ / index.html). Vol. 25, No. 1-2, 1995 | 59 ...


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