Braveheart (Blu-ray)

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Rating: R

Starring:
Mel Gibson as William Wallace
Brian Cox as Argyle Wallace
Peter Hanly as Edward, Prince of Wales
Sophie Marceau as Princess Isabelle
Stephen Billington as Phillip
Angus Macfadyen as Robert the Bruce
John Kavanagh as Craig
Alun Armstrong as Mornay
Catherine McCormack as Murron MacClannough
Brendan Gleeson as Hamish Campbell
Tommy Flanagan as Morrison
Tam White as MacGregor
Donal Gibson as Stewart
Jeanne Marine as Nicolette, Princess Isabelle’s Handmaiden
Martin Dunne as Lord Dolecroft
David O’Hara as Stephen, Irish Fighter

Special Features:
Commentary By Actor/Director Mel Gibson
Braveheart Timeline
Dimensional Battlefields Of The Scottish Rebellion
Braveheart A Look Back
Smithfield: Medieval Killing Fields
Tales Of William Wallace
A Writer’s Journey

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.78:1)
Dolby TrueHD 5.1
French and Spanish Languages
Spanish, French Subtitles
Running Time: 177 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

“Experience ‘Braveheart’ like it was meant to be seen with pristine picture and over an hour of all-new bonus content. The richly detailed saga of power, passion, and the fight for freedom boasts Mel Gibson as William Wallace, a bold Scotsman who rallies his countrymen to liberation from oppressive English rule. Winner of five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.”

“Braveheart” is rated R for brutal medieval warfare.

Mini-Review:

(Note: This Blu-ray review contains spoilers and you may want to skip it if you haven’t seen the movie already.)

“Braveheart” was a great movie, but I haven’t watched it since I first saw it in the theater back in 1995. As good as it is, it’s a brutal film that’s difficult to watch. We’re treated to scenes of British nobles raping Scottish women, Wallace’s wife getting her throat slit while she waits for him to save her, and Wallace having his intestines pulled out and genitals cut off before he’s executed. It’s not the kind of film you pop in the player for some light viewing every once in a while.

All that being said, it’s an excellent movie. It features your classic revenge tale, politics, intrigue, romance, action, drama, and more. It generates strong emotional responses with audiences. “Braveheart” certainly was a major accomplishment. For Mel Gibson to star in this movie as well as direct it was quite impressive. He delivered a passionate performance while bringing out the best in his costars, too. Brendan Gleeson, Sophie Marceau, and Catherine McCormack all delivered excellent performances.

The other thing memorable about “Braveheart” was the epic battles. The clashes between the Scots and the Brits were stunning and brutal. Soldiers speared horses, people got their limbs cut off, and there were numerous decapitations. It was probably the most accurate depiction of medieval warfare shown on the big screen. It was bloody, violent, and brutal. There was nothing romantic about it like in many war movies. I don’t think it was gore for the sake of gore like it appears to be in many films since “Braveheart.”

Also noteworthy was the impressive production design, beautiful scenery, and amazing costumes. James Horner also delivered one of his most memorable scores. All in all, it’s no wonder it won Best Picture in 1995.

Now that it’s on Blu-ray, people that missed it when it came out in theaters can get caught up. If you’re any kind of history buff or simply a fan of Mel Gibson, this is a film you’re going to want to check out, but the history buffs may have more fun picking apart the inaccuracies than what it got right.

Among the bonus features, you’ll find the commentary by Mel Gibson, “Tales of William Wallace,” and the documentary entitled “A Writer’s Journey” which have all been offered previously on DVD. Also included is a featurette called “Smithfield: Medieval Killing Fields” which discusses the area of London that was used for festivals, shopping, and executions. Kind of like your local mall but with disembowelments. This is where the real William Wallace was killed. Then there’s “Braveheart – A Look Back” which is an hour long documentary on the making of the movie. It appears to have been made in 2005 and features interviews with Mel Gibson, Brendan Gleeson, Sophie Marceau, David O’Hara, and some of the other cast and crew members. They have some very interesting stories about the challenges of getting the movie made, practical jokes done on the set, and other bits of trivia. It’s well worth checking out. Another new feature allows you to see how the real battles between the Scots and Brits were played out. Little icons move around on a CG field showing troop movements. It’s a tad dull, but history buffs should enjoy it.

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