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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Braveheart is a 1995 movie in which Mel Gibson plays William Wallace, a Scotsman who leads a revolt against the British during the 13th century. This movie has high levels of blood and gore (animal and human), vulgarity, and sexual elements. In battle, characters fight and die with swords, spears, spikes, swords, and molten lead. Rape is used as a method of oppression by the British. Sex scenes between Wallace and his doomed wife and with a consenting princess. There's some nudity in the form of female breasts and male backsides. Expect torture, hackings, stabbings, throat-slitting, and arrows and spears dealing horrible death and injuries. William Wallace is brave and noble but vengeful and absolutely uncompromising. Occasional profanity, including "f--k." There are sexual innuendos concerning prowess and the size of genitalia.
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What's the story?
The setting is 14th-century Scotland, oppressed by the English King Edward I (Patrick McGoohan), alias Longshanks, who hangs a group of Highlanders trying to negotiate a peace treaty. One of the victim's sons is William Wallace (Mel Gibson). When Longshanks makes it legal for British nobles to sexually abuse Scottish women, Wallace's wife is killed by British soldiers. He rallies other angry Scots and an English-hating Irish brigade and stages a successful guerilla war on the British. Ironically, Wallace's goal of independence for Scotland is thwarted by the region's own aristocrats, a well-treated bunch with investments in England. Betrayed by his high-born countrymen, Wallace assassinates a number of them before he's captured and handed over to the English for public torture and execution. Wallace is unyielding to the end, and his example shames the Scottish prince Robert the Bruce (Angus McFayden) to lead a larger, more successful revolt later in Wallace's name.
Is it any good?
This is not for the faint of heart; parents should be aware of the high level of blood and gore and sexual elements. Edward I's son Edward II (Peter Hanly) is a pampered homosexual who so annoys Longshanks that the king throws his son's boyfriend out of a window. Edward II is married, for strictly diplomatic reasons, to a beautiful French princess (Sophie Marceau) who sleeps with William Wallace and gets pregnant by him, another way by which the hero triumphs from beyond the grave.
The spin that director/producer/star Gibson puts on this version of Wallace's story is that the true peoples' heroes -- warriors, freedom fighters, messiahs, (and filmmakers?) who don't back down or compromise their ethics -- often don't get their just reward in this life. That's a theme to ponder, but parents might emphasize to impressionable viewers that, while William Wallace apparently did exist, much of the script in BRAVEHEART has been shown to be false.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how some heroes often fail to get their just recognition and glory during their lifetimes, only painful death. Why do you think this is?
William Wallace apparently did exist, but much of this movie's script has been shown to be historically bogus. How can you find out what really happened?
This movie remains popular. Why do you think it holds so much appeal for so many?
- In theaters: August 29, 1995
- On DVD or streaming: September 29, 2000
- Cast: Mel Gibson, Sean Lawlor, Sophie Marceau
- Director: Mel Gibson
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: History
- Character strengths: Courage, Integrity
- Run time: 178 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: brutal medieval warfare
- Last updated: March 16, 2020
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