Freedom in Film: Braveheart (1995)

In all of cinema history, perhaps the most famous single use of the word “Freedom” can be found in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart (1995).

The story is well known: Scottish hero William Wallace (Gibson) compels his fellow clan leaders to take up arms against an oppressive English king, leading to the decisive Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

The themes of freedom and standing up to tyranny against great odds are obvious; but there are other lessons, too.

For instance, courage and foolhardiness are not the same thing. A person is not a hero solely for standing up for his own or others’ rights, but for doing it in ways that are honorable and most likely to succeed, while minimizing the damage to the innocent. It’s often not an easy call.

In modern politics, as in war (and in our own personal, professional, and family lives), people must make difficult decisions. Wallace was not a hero just because he had the gall to take the fight to the enemy when his best friends and advisors hesitated to rise to the occasion. He was a great man because he made tough choices with honor, at great cost to himself, and exercised the virtue of prudence―the discernment of how to act rightly under given circumstances―a virtue of which we always need more in public (and private) life.

About Kathryn Hickok

Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director, Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Oregon, and Development Coordinator at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon's free market public policy research organization.
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One Response to Freedom in Film: Braveheart (1995)

  1. Neil Huff says:

    I must admit, mel Gibson’s shout of “freedom” was impressive. I wonder, though, considering the fuedal systems of that era inwhich everyone participated-Wallace included- what was actually meant by the word ‘freedom’? To Wallace it meant being under allegiance to a Scottish lord and king, rather than a foreign king such as Edward. It certainly could not mean anything like political freedom or freedom from coerced labor (slavery in modern terms) or forced conscription. It meant merely the right to live under a Scottish tyrant. Most of whom proved less competent rulers than English kings and even less merciful and just.

    The Bruce’s were in actual fact much more relevant than Wallace to Scotland’s history. Wallace during his final defeat at the hands of the English fled the battlefield and spent the rest of life something of an outlaw until the English finally caught and executed him.

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