Thankfully, William Wallace is a hero I think almost everyone can get behind. His cold exterior and single-track ambition works for the film, without being off putting or emotionally shallow. Gibson paints Wallace as a mythical force almost akin to the tall tales in the movie—nearly to the point of a familiar Christ figure (note the not-too-subtle imagery at the end). And whether or not the Scottish legend was anything like he is in Randall Wallace’s script, in Gibson’s movie he’s a strong character and a heroic and honorable dude…who also happens to be one tough mother with a mace and a sword.
The other major attraction of BRAVEHEART is the large-scale battle scenes, which still hold up in the face a decade worth of CG enhanced fighting ala LORD OF THE RINGS or TROY. And it remains impressive because of just that; the massive production value and choreographed chaos boasts real people, real arrows, real bloodshed, etc. (Obviously, I mean practical and not real real.) As he would in future movies, Gibson also doesn’t hold back on the brutal violence to pack a visceral punch; so much metal pierces flesh in this movie it probably gives tetanus hard-on.
During this most recent viewing, I began to notice the similarities between BRAVEHEART and another Best Picture winner, GLADIATOR. I like Ridley Scott’s historical epic plenty, but I think BRAVEHEART holds up much better as a film, which I’m sure it will continue to do for years to come.
Commentary by Mel Gibson: I was surprised at how soft spoken Gibson sounds on this track. While he discusses plenty about the movie and its historical context, the man’s fairly quiet (not silent, mind you) throughout, although during the action scenes he gets noticeably more excited.
Alba Gu Brath: The Making of BRAVEHEART (49:59): This documentary provides an interesting mix of a younger Mel acting, directing, and editing back in 1994, with interviews and retrospective thoughts from the current Gibson. The interviews are revealing (Gibson is more lively here than in the commentary) and the behind the scenes footage has some great stuff that really show off the impress production.
A Writer’s Journey (21:29): An interesting interview with writer Randall Wallace, who talks about the script’s origins (he discovered William Wallace while trying to research his Scottish heritage), as well as his peculiar methods for writing (doing most of the research after he’s finished).
Tales of William Wallace (29:58): An educational style program about the Scottish Legend, as well as some fact versus fiction information comparing him to the film version.
Archival Cast Interviews (14:34): The rest of the people not named Mel Gibson (including Brendan Gleeson, Catherine McCormack and Sophie Marceau) get some face time on the DVD, although they mostly just talk about their characters and plot.
You also get a rather pointless Photo Montage and a couple Trailers.
Extra Tidbit: Terry Gilliam was offered the chance to direct this movie. I can’t imagine what that would be like.