It has become somewhat stereotypical for most men to place Braveheart on their top ten movie list, but there are several good reasons for that.
It has some groundbreaking battle scenes that spawned the whole battle-is-confusing editing technique. Most people forget that Mel started this trend, which by the way has not turned out so great. (Most filmmakers make the mistake of thinking the view will accept total confusion in the place of action… Michael Bay anyone?)
It is also one of those truly inspiring epic movies. Say what you will about Mel Gibson, he certainly wants to make people think and not just entertain.
The best aspect about this movie though, is the themes it plays with. First, there is the whole (somewhat obvious) “FFRREEEEDDOOMM” theme. There is a price to pay for freedom. It may be a right, but it has to be fought for, and once it is obtained there is a tremendous responsibility to guard it.
However, most people miss the way this film brilliantly analyses leadership. King Edward I, Robert the Bruce, and William Wallace are perfect examples of leaders set in different molds. “Longshanks” is the tyrant who rules with a heavy hand, thinks only of power, and crushes the people he is ruling. Robert the Bruce is the politician. He lacks confidence and seeks to please the powers that be. Wallace could care less about power or leading and instead only he wants what is best for his people. He is a reluctant power, which is the best kind.
2008 is probably a good year to pull this movie out and watch it again. Into which mold of leader do the current presidential candidates fit? Oh… then again, that might be too depressing.