Braveheart celebrates 25 years

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Today marks 25 years since the Macrobert Arts Centre hosted the European premiere of Braveheart. On that day in 1995, crowds of people lined up to get a glimpse of the stars who were bringing Hollywood to the City of Stirling.

To mark the anniversary Stirling Direct Tourism is hosting a live online panel titled Braveheart Live 2020. It will look at the impact the film has had and delve into the life of William Wallace.

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Brig’s front-page story on the event, September 1995

Stirling was the perfect place to hold the premiere because of the historical relevance it holds. The Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, which is depicted in the film, saw Wallace and his army defeat English forces in a resounding victory. It was the first major defeat of the English in the wars for Scottish independence.

The Wallace Monument sits high above the city and is said to be where Wallace looked down upon the gathering of the English army before the battle.

Mel Gibson told the observer: “It was vital as far as I was concerned that the film be premiered in Stirling. I had always planned that as it is central to Wallace’s success.”

The three-hour-long epic has had a controversial reception over the years. Many have pointed out its many historical inaccuracies – including the lack of a bridge when depicting the Battle of Stirling Bridge and the small detail of Braveheart actually being used to describe Robert the Bruce, not Wallace – and have said that this takes away from the quality of the film.

Despite this, the film was nominated for ten Oscars and won five of them including Best Picture and Best Director. It also has thousands of fans and a 78% rating on rotten tomatoes.

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Gibson attending the premiere – credit: universityofstirling Instagram

It is hard to talk about Braveheart and not mention the dark side of Mel Gibson. Throughout the years he has been accused of hate speech on many occasions.

Back in 2010 leaked tapes of Gibson show him using the n-word among other horrible remarks towards his girlfriend at the time, Oksana Grigorieva. Actress Winona Ryder has also recently spoken of him spouting anti-Semitism and homophobia back in the 90s, both of which Gibson has denied.

However, his career has survived. In 2016 he was given a 10-minute-long standing ovation for his film Hacksaw Ridge and continues to work – albeit in not very good films.

Braveheart is one of Scotland’s most iconic films and, despite its failings, has held up to the test of time in many people’s eyes. 25 years later we can still look at the Macrobert premiere as a massive honour and hopefully it won’t be the last premiere it hosts.

Featured image credit: Paramount Pictures

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3rd year Journalism student | Film and Television Editor @ Brig Newspaper

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