It has been credited with bolstering national identity, tourism, and shaping the political landscape which allowed for Scotland’s devolution and Independence referendum.
The problem is that Braveheart is a huge Hollywood turd which is selling our own cultural identity back to us. And unfortunately, many people are still buying it.
My family’s heritage can be traced back hundreds of years in Scotland, and to me the actual story of William Wallace is truly inspiring. So this invites the question, “If it’s already so good, why mess with it?”
And Braveheart really does mess with it. A lot. But there is no shortage of people jumping on the bandwagon; it was the fifth highest grossing film in the UK in 1995, with 28% of that audience being Scottish.
The film triggered expressions of patriotism and reignited a sense of Scottish identity. And now that we’re in the lead-up to the Scottish independence referendum it’ll likely raise its head again, invoked by those trying to stir up feelings of patriotism and nationalism.
But it doesn’t reflect Scottish history, and shouldn’t represent Scottish identity.
Basically, it all comes down to Hollywood, which put simply means: profit.
It’s pure Hollywood fluff; an American film pronouncing American values. This concept of ‘Freedom’ is the wet-dream of American neo-conservatives and Tea-Party rallies.
The film is taking Scotland and running it through the Hollywood mill; all we’re left with is ‘Scollywood’ and an American fantasy.
Seriously, it had people in 13th century Scotland living in mud-huts. And the Battle of Stirling Bridge didn’t even have a bridge!
Everyone was dressed in kilts and painted their faces with blue woad. I assume that’s because they decided at a production meeting “that’s what looks Scottish.”
This image of ‘Freedom’ – “Freedom to the people! Go to hell, Big Government!” – is a American neo-conservative’s fantasy, not ours.
As a film Braveheart looks good, but that doesn’t mean it should be at all related to Scottish patriotism. It’s an image constructed in a boardroom in LA that would sell in the US, nothing more.
The English get a raw deal too; Braveheart has been criticised for inciting Anglophobia, and with no substance behind it. The Anglophobia was basically a side effect of the filmmakers’ need for pantomime baddies, and in this case, the English sufficed (complete with snooty London accents and disapprovingly flared nostrils).
Basically, the Galactic Empire, Bond villains, Freddy Kruger, and the English from Braveheart all fall into the same category. It really is as simple as that, only the English are, y’know, real, and might notice the effects of someone who’s taken Braveheart to heart.
You’ll still hear people saying that, for all the glaring historic inaccuracies, Braveheart “just makes you feel so patriotic!” But taking Braveheart as patriotism is like getting Mel Gibson drunk in a synagogue; it’s a bad idea that can easily provoke needless and lobotomised xenophobia.
Voting on a referendum is one thing, but Braveheart has nothing to do with Scotland or being Scottish. Considering it that way is simply buying into a Hollywood advert.