I knew this movie was one of Mouse’s favorites of all time. Gearing up to watch it, though, my heart and mind were a little distracted. I’ve been feeling at a real loss at the state of our world, and particularly the ways in which Black life is valued in this country. I started reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, which outlines in scathing detail the undeniable systemic racism of our criminal justice system. We sat down to watch Braveheart, and I thought it would be far removed from what was most at the forefront of my mind. I didn’t think a film that took place in Scotland would have anything at all to do with some of the frustration and powerlessness I was feeling.
But I was not entirely correct. Braveheart is a powerful story of individuals rising up against oppression. It’s about those who are marginalized banding together in the interest of their own humanity and in the interest of justice. I had to suspend a lot of what I know about Mel Gibson as a person and focus instead on the incredible character he plays – William Wallace, a proud Scot who has witnessed brutality and atrocity towards his people and even his own father from a young age. He is all too familiar with what it is like to live under tyranny in the guise of the “law” – namely oppression by English soldiers and lords. The English are there because King Edward “Longshanks” of England has successfully conquered Scotland and has been shoring up his power there for some time. These people occupy the land of the Scots and act with impunity – partaking in a tradition of raping newlywed young Scot women on the day of their weddings as part of a “law” which protects them from doing so. Wallace has gotten to see other parts of the world, having been raised by his Uncle Argyle in Rome. He has ability to speak other languages and sense of life beyond this occupation. When the English soldiers attempt to rape his childhood love, a woman he married in secret, the two of them fight back. Tragically, she doesn’t make the confrontation out alive – but Wallace does, and is driven to fight English oppression over Scotland once and for all.
YES YES YES! I’ve referred to Braveheart as the “greatest movie of all time” only half-jokingly. I love it dearly and I think it is Continue reading