10 Things You Didn't Know About... Braveheart
It won five Oscars, made William Wallace famous the world over and represented the directorial debut of one Mel Gibson. We are of course talking about Braveheart, the historical – if not historically accurate – tale of the Scottish rebellion against English rule that led to a series of epic battles along the border and cemented the legends of warriors like Wallace and Robert the Bruce.
The film is one of many in our Awards season offers in store and to celebrate we went digging and unearthed some of the the the things you may not know about Mel Gibson's Braveheart...
Mel Gibson didn't want to play the lead role...
Although it was Gibson's company Icon Productions that had the rights to the film, the actor wasn't keen on taking the lead role as he thought he was at least ten years too old to play the part. However, he was struggling to raise enough money for the film's ambitious production budget and Paramount would only offer the funding if he starred in the film himself.
He didn't want to direct the film either...
Gibson initially asked Terry Gilliam to direct the film while the pair were planning to work together on an adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, a film that was later shelved. Gilliam turned the opportunity down and so Gibson ended up directing and starring.
Most of the film was actually shot in Ireland, not Scotland.
Although there are some scenes that were filmed in the Scottish highlands, where much of the film is set, the majority of Braveheart was actually filmed on location in Ireland and many of the extras in the film were members of the Irish FCA, or territorial army. The sequence depicting the 'Battle of Stirling Bridge' was actually filmed on Curragh Plains in County Kildare, with no bridges in sight.
'Braveheart' was actually the nickname given to Robert the Bruce, not William Wallace.
The film has been derided over the years for its lack of historical accuracy, such the use of face paint (called 'woad'), which hadn't been used in battle since the days of the Roman Empire, some 800 years earlier. Perhaps the most glaring error of them all though lies in the film's title, which is incorrectly attributed to William Wallace rather than Robert the Bruce. Understandably, the Scots weren't impressed...
The film is said to have boosted income through tourism by as much as £30 million.
The Scots may have been unhappy at the inaccurate portrayal of some of their cultural heroes, but there was an upside; the film is reported to have boosted local tourism in the area by as much as £30 million and there are even 'Braveheart Tours' of some of the locations for those who want to soak up some of the film's atmosphere.
Much of the screenplay is based on a poem written by a minstrel known as 'Blind Harry'.
One of the reasons behind the film's litany of factual inaccuracies is that there is very little in the way of written history about Wallace's life, particularly his early days before his ascent to the role of Guardian of Scotland. One of the key sources for the film's events was reportedly a poem written some 170 years after Wallace's death by a minstrel known only as 'Blind Harry', who in turn is supposed to have learned Wallace's story through a tradition oral history.
Some of the film's score is also used in James Cameron's Titanic.
The more observant of you may have noticed similarities between the music featured in Titanic and that featured in Braveheart. Well, there's a reason for that; not only are the two scores both written by James Horner, but the composer actually re-used some of the melodies – and instrumentation – in the score for James Cameron's film a couple of years later.
Mel Gibson was a bit of a prankster on set.
Gibson is known to enjoy a prank to lighten the mood during a hard day's filming and Braveheart was no different, but it seems that Sophie Marceau was the one bearing the brunt of Gibson's antics more than most. In one instance he reportedly started a false rumour on set that Sophie was the granddaughter of French mime artist Marcel Marceau. More worryingly, Marceau also claimed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that Gibson would regularly flash his penis at her during downtime, to “lighten the mood”. Hmm...
William Wallace's wife was called Marion, not Murran.
Even though the people behind the film knew this, they decided to change the name of Wallace's other half to avoid confusion with the Marion from the Robin Hood legend.
Gibson was reported to an animal welfare society over the treatment of the horses.
Apparently the director found himself on the receiving end of some angry phone calls from an animal welfare group when it was reported to them that the horses on set seemed to be in distress. The horses in question were actually mechanical, not real.
Braveheart is one of many films on offer in-store as part of Awards Season. To see the full range of titles on offer, head to our online store...