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  1. 1. Braveheart{ Director: Mel Gibson Released: 1995 Synopsis: William Wallace, a commoner, unites the 13th Century Scots in their battle to overthrow English rule.
  2. 2. Historical ContextAlexander II ruled Scotland from 1214 till 1249. He was succeeded by his sonAlexander III who suffered a fatal accident at Kinghorn in March 1286. During thistime Scotland was at peace with England, and after 1263 at peace with Norway.Alexander’s immediate successor was his granddaughter Margaret (the Maid ofNorway), then three years old. She was in Norway and in poor health, but her claim tothe throne was upheld. The Scottish nobles established Guardians of Scotland untilMargaret reached her majority. In 1290 Margaret died, and the power struggle began.The main contenders were the Baliol family and the Bruces.Edward I had made no attempt to intervene in the succession prior to 1290 because hisintention had been to marry his son to the Maid of Norway. Since this wedding hadonly been mooted as a possibility, the Scots were wary, but not hostile to Edward, andturned to him for advice on whom to select as king.Amazing though this might sound, it is fact. Edward had previously acted as honestbroker over at least two other European monarchies. He chose Baliol, a man whomhistory has treated roughly. John Baliol genuinely seems to have tried to ruleindependently of England, but this was not on Edward’s agenda. Edward wanted apuppet king, and when Baliol did not collude, Edward ordered the Scots lords tosupport his invasion of France in 1294. Baliol, among others, refused to go, andEdward sacked Berwick.
  3. 3. Historical ContextWho was William Wallace?William Wallace was the second son of an Elderslie squire.How he sprang, full–blown, into the nationalconsciousness is not at all clear. One legend suggests thatit was as a result of his killing of the Sheriff of Lanark inretaliation for the murder of Wallace’s wife. Other legendssuggest that the Wallace family were already disenchantedwith Edward, as the Wallace name does not appear on theoath of loyalty to Edward. Whatever the cause, the resultwas that between the spring of 1296 and the autumn of1297 William Wallace became the leader of a guerrillaarmy which took on and defeated Edward’s army, aformidable military machine.
  4. 4. Wallace’s RisingAt Stirling Wallace defeated Edward’s army at the bridge, not, as inthe film, on an open plain. He was appointed Guardian. At Falkirkhe was deserted by the Scots lords. He did invade England, burningand sacking in retaliation for Berwick. He backed Baliol’s claim forthe throne. Finally he was betrayed and executed in 1305. Preciselywhat he did in the years between 1297 and 1305 is unclear. There issome evidence to suggest he travelled abroad seeking support.Equally unclear is his relationship with Bruce.What is clear is that he had an extraordinary military genius, and apassion for Scotland. It is also worth noting that, despite his powerand support, it was not his aim to take the throne for himself. Hewished a Scottish king to rule in Scotland, and he believed Baliol to bethat rightful monarch.
  5. 5. The Martyrdom of William WallaceWallace was declared an outlaw, which meant his life was forfeit and that anyonecould kill him without trial. He continued his resistance, but on August 3rd, 1305,he was captured at Robroyston, near Glasgow. Wallace was taken to London for ashow trial in Westminster Hall. He was charged with two things - being an outlawand being a traitor. No trial was required, but, by charging him as a traitor,Edward intended to destroy his reputation. Inevitably he was found guilty andwas taken for immediate execution - in a manner designed to symbolise his crimes.Wrapped in an ox hide to prevent him being ripped apart, thereby shortening thetorture, he was dragged by horses four miles through London to Smithfield. Therehe was hanged, as a murderer and thief, but cut down while still alive. Then hewas mutilated, disembowelled and, being accused of treason, he was probablyemasculated. For the crimes of sacrilege to English monasteries, his heart, liver,lungs and entrails were cast upon a fire, and, finally, his head was chopped off. Hiscarcase was then cut up into bits. His head was set on a pole on London Bridge,another part went to Newcastle, a district Wallace had destroyed in 1297-8, the restwent to Berwick, Perth and Stirling (or perhaps Aberdeen), as a warning to theScots. Edward had destroyed the man, but had enhanced the myth.
  6. 6.  The film is NOT historically accurate. The relationship with the princess did not happen; the battle at Stirling centred on a bridge; and Wallace backed the Baliols, not the Bruces.  However it is NOT the business of media students to pick holes in the historical accuracy of the film.  Instead, we will look at how the film has been CONSTRUCTED as a text.Narrative
  7. 7. Can you identify the three strands of the narrative? It tells the … It presents … It follows … Narrative
  8. 8. There are three strands to the narrative:  It tells the life of William Wallace from childhood to death. It presents his political shaping, his actions, and his private life.  It presents Edward’s drive to conquer Scotland from the re-introduction of prima noctre until his death.  It follows the manoeuvrings of the Bruce family for the throne until the death of Robert the Bruce’s father.Narratives
  9. 9.  The three plots are laid, developed and intertwined until they are resolved at the end. How are they resolved at the end? Is the ending similar to any other texts you have read or watched? Narrative
  10. 10.  The narrative is built on a series of parallels, which allows for an exploration of the central issues of the text.  For example, there are three deaths at the end of the film.  Can you identify any other parallels?  Consider the function of each.Narratives
  11. 11.  The language of film is concerned with the techniques of filming.  Meaning is achieved through what the viewer sees. This is termed the MISE EN SCENE.Language of Film
  12. 12.  In ‘The Great Gatsby’ Daisy is described as ‘in white’, with her dress rippling and fluttering’, and with a kind of voice that the ear follows up and down’, while Myrtle is ‘in her middle thirties, and faintly stout, but she carried her flesh sensuously.’  These descriptions set their character and their action in the plot.Language of Film
  13. 13.  Wallace in today’s terms would be described by the English as a terrorist, but in Braveheart he is constructed as a selfless fighter for freedom. The construction of Wallace as the hero, through all the devises employed, ensures that he carries the ideologies (central concerns) of the text. This is a complex concept - in its basic form it is a set of ideas or beliefs which are held to be acceptable by the creators of a media text. For example, a text might be described as having a feminist ideology, meaning it promotes the idea that women are the equal of men and should not be discriminated against on the grounds of gender. Central Concerns: The paternal relationship The nature of freedom The role of monarchy/ leadership Heroes and Villains
  14. 14. Representation involves the construction the choicesthat are made when it comes to portraying something or someone in amass media text. When youre analysing representation, think about the following questions: •Who or what is being represented? Who is the preferred audience for this representation? •What are they doing? Is their activity presented as typical, or atypical? Are they conforming to genre expectations or other conventions? •Why are they present? What purpose do they serve? What are they communicating by their presence? Whats the preferred reading? •Where are they? How are they framed? Are they represented as natural or artificial? What surrounds them? What is in the foreground and what is in the background?Scene 1 – 8
  15. 15.  When producers construct a media representation, they often assume that the audience is one homogenous mass that will all decode the representation in the same way. However, people see even the most basic images in different ways. Look at the two famous optical illusions below. What do you see first?
  16. 16. Narrative Representation Scene 1 – 8Montage Ideology IconsCamera Work Sound Mise En Scene
  17. 17.  Analyse and evaluate how the director, Mel Gibson, encouraged his audience to sympathise with and support William Wallace in his quest for freedom and retribution? (A/E) Retribution - the act of punishing or taking vengeance for wrongdoing, sin, or injuryThe ExpositionConstructing a Hero
  18. 18.  Westerns often portray how desolate and hard life was for frontier families. These families are faced with change that would severely alter their way of life. This may be depicted by showing conflict between natives and settlers or U.S. Cavalry or between cattle ranchers and farmers or by showing ranchers being threatened by the onset of the Industrial Revolution.  The Western depicts a society organized around codes of honor and personal, direct or private justice .  The main character is usually a semi- nomadic cowboy or a gunfighter.such as the Arthurian Romances  Like the cowboy or gunfighter of the Western, the knight errant of the earlierGenre European tales and poetry was wandering from place to place on his horse, fightingThe Western villains of various kinds and bound to no fixed social structures but only to his own innate code of honor
  19. 19.  In ancient myths and legends there are many examples of modern heroes and heroines. They are adventurous, resourceful and often subjected to difficult journeys or tasks. They often stand for good against evil, or one man against the odds. William Wallace is a folk hero, a man of the people. He belongs to that category of men who are driven by passion, idealism and an heroic impulse which is in direct contrast to their opponents who are self seeking, mean and merciless. Constructing a Hero
  20. 20.  It was earlier mentioned that the narrative is built on a series of parallels, which allow for an exploration of the central issues of the text.  A number of characters in the film function as foils. Can you identify these oppositions? Foil - anything that serves by contrast to call attention to another things good qualities; "pretty girls like plain friends as foils"Constructing a Herothrough the VillainousOther.
  21. 21.  There are three villains in the film: Bruce Senior. The Scots lords, The English soldiers and Edward,1. Watch scene 22 (1hr) identify how Bruce senior is established as a villain.Consider fictional stereotypes and appearance.2. How do the Scots lord’s ideologies differ to those of William Wallace?What villainous acts do they commit?3. Identify key moments in the plot which construct the English asrepulsive?4. Gibson’s constructs these characters actions as villainous. How do theseconstructions add to our understanding of the central concerns? What attributes does a hero/leader/king possess?Villains
  22. 22.  How has the director used MISE EN SCENE to construct the Scots and Wallace as natural? How are the English constructed as the enemy and ‘other’?Constructing a HeroMise En Scene
  23. 23. ‘Go back to England. Tell them Scotland’s daughters and sons are yours no more. Tell them Scotland is free.’ Analyse and evaluate how language has been used to suggest Wallace is a leader?Constructing a HeroDialogue
  24. 24. Scene 44 Wallace’s revenge for Falkirk. Watch the scene again. Discuss how the director has used camera shots and composition to construct Wallace as a hero.Constructing a Hero
  25. 25.  The scene where Wallace sends the head of the Governed of York to Edward, is juxtaposed by Edward killing his son’s lover and beating his son.  What purpose does this juxtaposition serve?Montage / Juxtaposition
  26. 26.  Identify the characteristics of a hero. Brave / Courageous Resilience Passionate CaringHonesty Respected SelflessQuick thinking The use of other / ‘bad guys’ Strong / PowerfulLeadership
  27. 27.  Learning Intention We are going to explore how the director has constructed William Wallace’s character as  Honourable  Morally Right  Influential The ending
  28. 28. Explain how each of the following characters influence WilliamWallace’s thoughts on freedom. Uncle Argyll FatherJust before his betrayal Wallace tells Hamish that ‘a home is nothingwithout freedom.’ What does freedom involve?William Wallace is ‘politicised out of love’. Explain what you think ismeant by the description.How has Gibson introduced Wallace’s primary motive? How is thismotive emphasised as the film draws to its final conclusions?Nature of Freedom
  29. 29.  Sign/ Icon - a symbol which is understood to refer to something other than itself. This may be very simple - think of a "No Entry" road sign. it may get more complicated when reading media texts, where a sign might be the bright red coat that a character is wearing (which signals that they are dangerous) Signs and Icons
  30. 30.  What kind of a flower is the thistle? Note down all its appearances in the film. What do you associate with thistle? Evaluate how effective the presence of the thistle is in conveying the films ideologies/central concerns.SymbolsThe Thistle
  31. 31. Symbol The Sword Identify events in the film where the sword becomes a main focus.The left - In politics, left-wing describes an outlook that accepts orsupports social equality, often in opposition to social hierarchy and socialinequality. It usually involves a concern for those in society who aredisadvantaged relative to others and an assumption that there areunjustified inequalities (which right-wing politics views as natural ortraditional) that need to be reduced or abolished Consider the composition, shot type, colours etc of the still frame above. Can you draw any connections between this frame and the definition of left wing politics and ideologies/central concerns of the film.