Braveheart Movie Poster Image

Braveheart

Mel Gibson's Oscared, bloody Scottish spectacle.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1995
  • Running Time: 178 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Freedom is championed as something necessary to happiness and contentment in life, and is worth dying for. The barbarity of war is shown to be the only solution to the greedy and oppressive policies of the British towards the Scottish. 

Positive role models

William Wallace emerges as the uncompromising leader of the rebellion in Scotland against the British. He fervently believes in freedom, and is willing to give up his life for it. A legend grows around him, and he becomes the symbol of the rebellion. 

Violence

Torture, hackings, stabbings, throat-slitting, arrows and spears, and rocks deal horrible death and injuries, though quick editing rarely lingers on the gore. Implied rape and attempted rape. Graphic depiction of hanging bodies. A kid punches another kid for fun. 

Sex

Brief female nudity: breasts. Scottish warriors raise their kilts and expose their rear ends to the British Army before a battle. In a Draconian new policy imposed by the King, British noblemen have the right to kidnap newly married Scottish women and sleep with them. 

Language

Occasional profanity, including "f--k," "bitch," "bastard," "ass." Occasional sexual innuendo about prowess and genitalia size. 

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking, or liquor used as a battlefield anesthetic. 

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, hackingsstabbings, 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. 

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?

QUALITY

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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 29, 1995
DVD/Streaming release date: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

This review of Braveheart was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Ratings

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate.

Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byprisonbreaker April 9, 2008

Amazing

An extremely epic, extremely well- done, and an extremely historically inaccurate film. A personal favorite of mine. Quite bloody (A lot like Gladiator's level of violence) but not grotesque. (Not counting the gruesome scene of torture near the end). The raping of William Wallace's wife is rather on the scary side, but CSM is over-reacting about the sex scene between Wallace & his wife. This film is great, but you might want to give your kids a history lesson before and after viewing it, for it lacks facts. Acually, you might not want to show this to your kid at all. Know your kid. Squeamish? Just don't let 'em. Otherwise a grand film production.
Adult Written bycommonsense12309 July 20, 2009

Should not be the first rated R movie ever seen, but will be enjoyed by all audiences about 16 or 17

The themes are incredible, showing that main character's sense of honor is timeless and beautiful. The pervasive images of freedom goes to show all that we have is taken for granted. Be careful around the violence, and the sexual behavior, which is rather mild and not memorable, but definately inapropriate for most kids and worthy of pre-screening!
What other families should know
Great role models
Adult Written byBigK75 September 15, 2009

Great for older teens and anyone mature enough to handle it.

A great movie. But only for people who are mature enough to handle it. There is a lot of blood, gore, and violence. There is a sex scene. There are also a few curse words. Basically this movie is definitely not for the easily offended. It does have a positive message however. It teaches those watching it that sometimes one must sacrifice everything if it means freedom.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Great messages
Great role models