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Edited by King_Bonzo

I got thinking today. I really fucking hate Braveheart. I also kinda hate historical fiction but Braveheart kind pigeon holes everything I loathe about the vast majority of historical films that were produced by the American film industry during the mid to late 90s and early 2000s. Films like The Patriot, U571, Pearl Harbour, Titanic...etc. Now this loathing of these films is probably not exactly a shock. They are pretty much all terrible, this being confirmed by the fact they were hugely successful. But my venom for films of this ilk is incessant to the point of obsession. For example with Braveheart (which will be my main example) I can't even watch that film any more,  it sends me into such an hysteric stupour of rage and amusement at the stupidity of it all.

Braveheart is a specific choice because the subject matter is something close to my heart. I am passionate about early to mid medieval history. I'm not about to say I'm the most well read guy on the planet or any kind of scholar but for example I've read biographies on Attila the Hun, Edward I and Edward III, books covering barbarian and roman culture, the 100 years war and the crusades. Now if any of you pick up say, for example, Marc Morris' excellent biography of Edward I (A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain) you will read a narrative book based in established historical fact that is literally jam packed with exciting battles, political intrigue, riviting characters and more twists, turns and emotional investment than Randell Wallace (Braveheart's writer) could ever attain with mere fiction.

Braveheart is a film  based on historical events and characters. It's also anglophobic, homophobic, racist, jingoistic, and Innacurate in regards to dates, events, characters, ages, dress, weaponary and locations. The tale covers Scotland's fierce war of independence against Edward I in the late 13th century. The politcal intrigue of the time, the events that led up to the battles of Stirling Bridge and Banockburn aswell as the events in the battles themselves are, from a narrative standpoint, solid gold! Failed assassination attempts on Edward I in the holy land, a civil war in England at the time, the conquering of Wales, the pogrom against the Jews in London, the death of a Norweigian Princess on her way sailing to Scotland that plunged an entire nation into chaos, the chance death of a Scottish King whilst riding that led to one of bloodiest era's in British history. The rise of a Scottish Knight named Uilliam Uallace (correct norman spelling) to inspire his country men and his inevitable downfall, and the ageing yet resolute King of England dying on the road to Banockburn in Cumberland days before battle with Robert De Brus, to have his much less capable son lose the battle and all he had fought for.

This is a story worth telling! It's rich, it's packed with incident, the Truth of these bewildering years in Anglo-Scottish history is so much more interesting and gripping than the bullshit fiction that was committed to film by Mel Gibson.

 


And that's more my issue! Of course as an Englishman I find Braveheart to be insulting to both my intelligence and my nation, but raping and rewriting history should be insulting to us all! Especially those involved in the event. U571 insulted those involved to a magnitude rarely witnessed before or: Rather cynically, American screenwriter David Ayer depicted American rather than British naval officers capturing the first Enigma machine, “in order to drive the movie for an American audience.” The first Enigma machine was in fact seized by officers from HMS Bulldog in 1941 and by the time the USA joined the war later that year, Britain had cracked the code. The post-release furore led Tony Blair, Prime Minister at the time, to agree that it was “an affront to the memories” of those involved and Bill Clinton, then US President, to write a letter emphasising the film’s fictional nature. In 2006, Ayer told the BBC he had come to regret the alteration: “Both my grandparents were officers in World War II, and I would be personally offended if somebody distorted their achievements.” 

   And if I was an American I'd find a film like The Patriot deeply insulting to my intelligence: Gibson (rugby) tackles history again with his turn as an honest farmer drawn into the American Revolutionary War, which historian David Hackett Fischer claimed in the New York Times “is to history as Godzilla was to biology.” Crimes erroneously attributed to British soldiers include immolating villagers inside their church, an atrocity actually committed a century and a half later by Nazis in the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane. Meanwhile the director Spike Lee complained that the film “dodged around, skirted about or completely ignored slavery.” There is also strong evidence that Francis Marion, the basis for Gibson’s character, was a slave-owning serial rapist who murdered Cherokee Indians for fun. 

What I really hate is that these film makers that the incredibly arrogant posistion of re-writing history and in doing so they cheapen it. History is amazing. It's a rich tapestry of incredibly stories and characters that links us all to our roots and to each other. History doesn't need to be re-written! If you take an historically narrative biography written by Ian Mortimer or David Starkey or John Man, in those pages you have an historically accurate narrative of a person's life or a real event or period that could be crafted to film without needing to be reorganised or amended or deleted.

Back to Braveheart. One of the most random arse scenes in that film is when Princess Isabella fucked Mel Gibson and they she's presumably Pregnant suggesting Edward III was Uallace's son. This scene adds nothing to the story other than to fuck over the English one more time, it's also entirely fictional. Princess Isabella was wedded to Edward II in 1308 when she was 13 years of age. Uallace died in 1305 so the film is insinuating that Uilliam Uallce shagged a ten year old. Nice. I'm sure the ghost of Scotland's greatest hero is really happy about being portrayed as a paedophile.  

Uilliam Uallace
These kinds of historical butchering's also breed stupidity. I've met Scot's who (rightly) deride the film just as much, if not more so, than I. Then I've met Scot's who took some kind of pride in this fantasy and got Mel Gibson tattoos on their legs or built sandstone statues of Uallace in Gibson's Image. Thankfully said Statue was worked over by many a pissed off Stirling resident but honestly, isn't the fact that someone, somewhere, felt it was appropriate to make and disply such a statue kind of worrying? Luckily Uallace has a stunning cast iron statue to his name, as does Edward I in Cumberland.

Edward I
These films that rape History in the arse and call it a night are thankfully seeming to crop up less and less. The most recent I guess is Robin Hood, but like Troy there is so little factual evidence on Robin Hood I can hardly take much issue. Kingdom Of Heaven seemed to do OK with the errors I noticed largely relating to the dress and design which Ridley Scott admitted was intentionally inaccurate to depict a renaisence esq view of the time. Give me time to read a book on the second crusade and I may return to rip it apart but as of now I love Kingdom of Heaven. The directors cut anyway the cinema cut was toss. 

So please read a book. Don't watch Braveheart, or The Patriot, or U571. They lower the collective IQ of our species.    
Edited by Enigma777
@King_Bonzo said:

" So please read a book. Don't watch Braveheart, or The Patriot, or U571. They lower the collective IQ of our species.    
"

Can't you do both? Nothing wrong with wanting to be entertained and most history can be dreadfully boring at times. I see nothing wrong with spicing it up a bit. Plus if someone was using movies to learn history in the first place, chances are they aren't very bright to begin with.
Edited by ryanwho

Braveheart is the greatest. Mel Gibson saved Scotland from Queen Elizabeth, and that's how the American Revolution started.

Edited by Twisted_Scot

I'm Scottish and Bravehavert was a steaming pile of inaccurate shite however, as a movie it is hysterically entertaining. The people who get Mel Gibson tattoos are idiots (and we have many of them) but I pretty sure I'm speaking for a majority of Scots when I say that we don't really care about it, its just a movie made for entertainment and money, of course if you want the real story read a book.  The movie Is still worth a watch for Mels terrible accent and guys getting smashed in the head by a mace while lying in bed from a  guy whos on a horse. Its why they call it the "Entertainment industry".

* Also its been good for UK tourism so gotta thank it for that.

Posted by MordeaniisChaos

Dude, the English have been DICKS a million trillion times over. If your pissed because the movie makes your nation look bad, you should read a few more history books from other people's perspectives. I mean, I love the UK, including England. But their past is fucking questionable at the best of times, and the rest of the time it's just simply grossly disturbing. Your nation did fucked up shit. This movie takes liberties and approaches things from a different perspective. There are plenty of perspectives out there that saw the English as fucked up people who ruined their homeland. The film never claims to be a re-enactment of history, just that it is based on real events. It's just a thing hollywood does to add a little extra weight to a story that probably was written before someone realized "hey, this is just like *insert history here*!"

But yeah, it's a shit film. It has bits that are alright, but by the end it just becomes a revenge film and takes the whole "pushing those bastards out" too far. Ultimately everyone looks like barbaric fools in the film.

Edited by King_Bonzo
@MordeaniisChaos said:

  If your pissed because the movie makes your nation look bad, you should read a few more history books from other people's perspectives. 

I've nothing against a film portraying British objectives as questionable or even evil but once you start adding fiction to the claims you're making then it devalues the whole story. Your point actually makes an interesting point. There are plenty of events to pick out over history when the British establishment was doing some seriously fucked up shit in Africa and India and Australia (The Proposition is a good example of this done well) so why the need to invent stuff that never happened? Once you start manufacturing evil stories about a race of people you start producing racist propaganda. 

This was also racism squarely aimed at the English, most likely because certain movie makers like the "forget" that the Scot's are British too. I can't help but feel the same framework for Braveheart could be tweaked to apply to any anti-semetic or anti-black or anti-asian propaganda throughout history. The lies about English nobles claiming the rights to shag any new wife on her wedding night was a complete falsehood and was only included to show what utter cunts the English were. What was the need? Unless your aim to portray a people as worse than they were?

 Also you'll proberly find that alot of those times when you claim the English were dicks, it was actually the British. ANYWAY that wasn't the main point of the piece, the main point was that history doesn't need to be restructured for film and doing so is disrespectful to the history will all share.

Posted by Aetheldod

Well I like Btaveheart , so though luck , but only an idiot will ever claim that a movie is actual history , really it is rather impossible to be accurate all the time , heck history is rewritten every year (due to new findings , de bunkings and what not) I agree that the bonning of the princess by Uallace was the must idiotic thing of the whole affair but the movie its a lot of fun , and also has the best medieval fights on film. And you wanna know a secret .... bagpipes arent Scotish , they are Roman :P

Posted by YoThatLimp
@Twisted_Scot said:
" I'm Scottish and Bravehavert was a steaming pile of inaccurate shite however, as a movie it is hysterically entertaining. The people who get Mel Gibson tattoos are idiots (and we have many of them) but I pretty sure I'm speaking for a majority of Scots when I say that we don't really care about it, its just a movie made for entertainment and money, of course if you want the real story read a book.  The movie Is still worth a watch for Mels terrible accent and guys getting smashed in the head by a mace while lying in bed from a  guy whos on a horse. Its why they call it the "Entertainment industry".* Also its been good for UK tourism so gotta thank it for that. "
Bingo.

It is just a movie, shut the fuck up.
Posted by King_Bonzo

@Metalideth:

B ut these aren't just movies. They are the retelling of historic events and real people's lives.Maybe you need to appreciate history, or be directly directly tied to the event to get pissed off at it. An example of it would be the angry reactions of reletives of the real life counterparts of various character's in Titanic whose roles were juiced up and altered for the movie going public. U571 had the same effect. I almost feel like I'm trying to explain to someone who's never been in an arcade why Street Fighter The Movie is so atrocious.

Posted by Aetheldod
@King_Bonzo:  Dude you are just getting pissed off by something that wont change anytime soon ... for that you need to change the whole Hollywood way of doing films , I am too a history buff and wish for the best accuracy as possible , but I wont hold my breath for hollywood to do something about it. Its like if you would hate say Dan Brown for creating fiction out of  DaVinci's work , only worry when people blindlesly believes that to be true. 
Posted by King_Bonzo
@Aetheldod:
don't worry lad getting pissed off at stuff gives me energy :) I enjoy venting it hence the blog. And I don't expect it the change any day soon I just avoid Historical films, or at least films based on well documented history. For example Pillar's of The Earth didnt bother me too much because we know so little about the period. Same thing with The Vikings and Apocalypto.