I’ll give number 85 this: It’s bloody. I’ll also give it this: It’s gory. Put ‘em together and what’ve you got? Bibbidi-bobbidi-Braveheart. Blood and gore is one thing of course, but Braveheart is much more. It’s sweeping, epic, romantic and swashbuckling, romantic and bloody and gory. Braveheart may actually make a list of top 100 movies of all time and I am a little bit embarrassed that it’s so far down the adventure list. There’s just not really much about torture that screams adventure, I guess. There are so many iconic film moments from Braveheart that it’s almost impossible to list them all, but seeing as that’s my job …
Number one: Blue Face paint. I’m not sure how true to history the blue face paint is, but it looks fine and dandy on a poster and really pops on film. The movie’s general color scheme is kind of a muddy Middle Ages brown-out. It’s so full of Scottish clouds that it’s striking to see even this bit of color. I’m betting that’s intentional. It’s hard to find out who deserves the credit for thinking of it. Is it the make-up artist? Surely they just carried out the directors … er … directions. Is it the director? Did he come up with it himself? Maybe the costume director? Maybe the art director. I don’t know. I just know that as silly as it could’ve been, Mel actually manages to make it look menacing, which I think was the historical basis for it. To scare one’s opponents or intimidate them or something.
Number two: The accent. There is a clever series on BBC America called the Accent of Evil whereby it is shown that all the best villains have British accents. It’s true also in this case except that pretty much everybody has an accent of some sort, not just the villains. As far as movie accents go Braveheart has some of the best. English, Scottish, French, all of them are fantastic and fun to quote! Yvery Mahn Dyies. Not Yvery Mahn trrruly Lyives. (Translation: Every man dies, not every man truly lives. Can YOU write in a Scottish brogue?) Anyway my point is that Mel more than holds his own on the accent front especially when you consider that he was originally from Australia. British are always whining about Americans doing their accents wrong but strangely I have not heard any of them whine about Gibson in Braveheart.
Number Three: Revenge, Betrayal, Swordsmanship, axemanship, rocksmanship, and flaming arrowmanship. Despite all its intimate romance, let’s face it Braveheart is really about the battles. When you consider how difficult it is to shoot these battle scenes you really have to hand it to Gibson here as a director. People are shot with arrows, limbs are lost, extras are stabbed through the chest, the whole scene looks chaotic but you can still tell what’s going on. This is especially important these days when so many directors try to make us feel the chaos and kinetics of battle by what’s known in Film School as “Shaking the camera.” Not once do you see the camera soar over hordes of digital extras. I’m told that Mel based the staging of his battle scenes on the foreign film Alexander Nevsky by Sergei Eisenstein. This is perhaps the only good thing one can say about Alexander Nevsky.
Next up … 84