Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Best War Epic On Film

"Braveheart" has always been my all time favorite movie since the first time I saw it in 1997 or was it 1998? Anyway, I'm never fond of war movies, just the exceptional ones like Braveheart, Gladiator, Band of Brothers, and Saving Private Ryan while the rest belong in the trash.

Lets all just admit it, war movies before Braveheart were just plain lame. They're always mixed with this superficial American patriotic crap. Even at a naive age of 10, I always thought Hollywood portrayal of patriotism seemed so superficial to me. I've seen many war movies mostly involving the US. US in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and so on.

There was this TV series "Tour of Duty" that I used to watch in the 80s. It was about these young US soldiers in the end days of the Vietnam war. I swear to God, never in a million years I could have ever known that the US lost in Vietnam from watching that show or any other war movie I've seen on the Vietnam war. Thanks to my high school history book, it came as a shock to me when I learned the real history about the Vietnam war in my history class. When my teacher told the class that the US lost to the communist/socialist in Vietnam, I went "huh?". I said it out loud in class "Quit screwing around with my mind!". :)

Braveheart was first released on May 26, 1995. I saw its trailer, but I just wasn't interested enough to watch the movie. If there is anything worse than a movie with modern warfare then its a movie with medieval warfare. But Braveheart changed all that. Because before Braveheart, sword fights and shooting arrows looked so fake in the movies. Even the killing, the agony of dying, body piercing [swords, arrows, bullets], and gushing blood seemed so unrehearsed. But when I accidentally saw Braveheart, I was blown away by the well choreographed battles unlike in some movies, where they show random scenes of battles and can't make out the head from the tail. Braveheart appealed to me as an outstanding movie for mainly [4] reasons:

  1. Story: Randall Wallace wrote an extraordinary script. William Wallace is not your typical fairytale hero. Wallace faces problems of what any real freedom fighter goes through, getting the oppressed to see and share his vision, to change the status quo, to weed out the traitors in his own camp, take on his powerful adversaries head on, and in the end pay the ultimate sacrifice.
  2. Score: James Horner composed an excellent score for this movie. The score really gave the audience a Scottish feel.
  3. Realism: The fights and battle sequences seemed so real. The film makers didn't go for that convenient scene change whenever a sword went through somebody's abdomen. Someone always got bruised or cut anywhere on their body wherever the sword struck.
  4. Context: I am so sick of watching movies, where Americans are portrayed as the good guys, risking life and limb to save the very indigenous people they invaded. The movies overlook all the atrocities that they committed in reality. Probably that's why it seemed believable and I didn't get that being disgusted feeling when I watched it. Wallace wasn't fighting for glory or the likes, I mean he didn't have that Achillian attitude like most Americans do.

Some parts in the movie did look over dramatized and historically very inaccurate, but overall it was a great movie. Although the real William Wallace didn't show any mercy to any of his enemies and killed them as he saw fit like burning them alive, but the Wallace in the movie is what I prefer to remember.

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