In the past couple of weeks I’ve read two articles having a go at the Hollywood movie Braveheart. What is it about that film that gets under the skins of Englishmen so? Maybe they’re not used to being portrayed as the bad guys. Though I don’t think many Bollywood historical epics have many good things to say about the Raj either.
The English critics accuse Braveheart of being historically inaccurate. William Wallace did not father a child with the Queen of England. He didn’t win a battle when the Irish mercenaries in English service met the Scots halfway across the field and started partying. Englishmen kidnapping Scots brides to satisfy their lust was not a major cause of Wallace’s fight. King Edward I was not a medieval Darth Vader. Wallace did not hunt down and kill all the Scots nobles who sided with the English. The Scots didn’t wear the style of kilt seen in the movie and many didn’t wear kilts at all.
I say, take a chill pill. It’s Hollywood. The basic facts are there. Wallace did fight the English, many of the Scottish nobility did side with the English, Wallace did defeat the English, was defeated in turn when Edward/Darth Vader showed up in person and Wallace did die a barbaric death for a crime he wasn’t guilty of – he owed no allegiance to Edward and therefore couldn’t commit treason.
Hollywood follows in the tradition of the Viking sagas and medieval ballads. Exact historical accuracy takes a back seat to capturing the essence of the story. And, anyway, who do the Braveheart nay-sayers cite as their sources. Why, English propagandists. There is much we will never know about Wallace. It was a complex time. Hollywood doesn’t do complex.