Based on a True Story

         For decades we have been introduced to movies that depict events that have occurred in the history of our world, as we know it. Movies with historical battles, mobsters, musicians, movie stars, and ghosts fill our local theatres and movie rental stores. Below the title is always the phrase, "Based on a true story."

         What does that mean, exactly? To me, it means that the person/persons who made this movie took a historical event and put their own "creativity into the picture, usually upsetting people who are quite familiar with history, such as myself. Why is it so hard to make a picture that is entirely historically accurate? To me, history is very entertaining if you actually get beyond what is written in your high school history textbook. One of the biggest upsets for me was Mel Gibson's 1995 box office smash, Braveheart. It is the story of William Wallace, a Scotsman in the thirteenth century who unites other commoners to overcome English rule in Scotland. There are many aspects of this movie that are very inaccurate.

         The first is a bit of a misunderstanding on the viewers' part. William Wallace is not Braveheart. The term Braveheart was created to describe the final words of Sir James Douglas as he threw a casket containing the heart of King Robert the Bruce into a Saracen army at the battle of Teba, Andalucía in 1330. This fulfilled Bruce's last wish, to have his heart carried on the crusade, Douglas apparently said, "Lead on Brave heart, and I will follow thee." Robert the Bruce is Braveheart.

         The other, and most ridiculous, inaccuracy in this picture is the Battle of Stirling Bridge. This is the first of large battles fought in this movie. This battle, historically, was fought on a bridge. This never happened in the movie--why not, Mel?

There was also some controversy about Gibson's portrayal of Edward II of England. While it is believed that he was a homosexual, the actor in the film played the role with very humiliating stereotypes of homosexuality. However, in all reality, Edward II was a lot like Edward I, tall, strong, and very athletic.

         The last little topic on my list is Wallace's sword. The long sword William Wallace had in the movie, while accurate with Scottish heritage, is in no way accurate to the time. Swords like this were not used until the sixteenth century. Wallace lived in the thirteenth century.

         These are just a few topics on one movie. There are countless other films that seem to make the same types of historical mistakes that really irritate me. Filmmakers, while producing very entertaining films, should really take a little more time to investigate what they are filming.

Brant Veal

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