Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Braveheart (1995)

     You know the really nice thing about seeing almost fifty new movies over the summer? It gives me a lot of material. Six of the movies that I’ve written about in the last four months or so were movies I saw for the first time over the summer—including this one. Yeah, I’d never seen “Braveheart” until May or so. And after the guys on my college residence hall scolding me for having not seen it last semester, I decided to go rent it. So here’s “Braveheart”.

     Mel Gibson directs the film and stars as William Wallace, a Scotsman fighting for freedom in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. But, of course, he doesn’t start out that way. The film opens with him as a young boy living in Lanark, and at a young age, the English invasion of Scotland by King Edward, or “Longshanks” still haunts him and his family. And one day, William’s father and brother go with others to attack English soldiers. Some return, but William’s family is not among them.

     As an adult, Wallace goes with his uncle to Europe and learns to read and write different languages. He returns and falls in love and marries a childhood friend named Murron (Catherine McCormack). However, they have to be married in secret: the king’s orders were that a lord in any of his territories had the privilege of sleeping with any bride living there. Many men resisted but were torn from their wives. So William and Murron marry secretly one night, but that doesn’t stop English soldiers from noticing something between the two of them. Murron is attacked one day by one of these soldiers, but William fights them off and flees. In response, the village sheriff kills Murron to lure Wallace back to catch him. However, Wallace starts a brawl, killing the sheriff and getting several other Scotsmen on his side to fight the English.

     And basically, after the tragedy of losing his new wife, Wallace decides to fight against the English. He becomes a legend among Scots, who rise up in the rebellion to fight. At one point, he ends up getting so many men together that they equal the size of the English army—but some of the Scots are afraid. They tell Wallace before the battle that they would rather retreat and live. So Wallace gives him the motivational speech that defines the movie:

WALLACE: Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you'll live—at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days, from this day to that, for one chance—just one chance—to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!

     And the Scots defeat the English, and they keep defeating the English. They become so much of a threat, Longshanks sends his daughter-in-law Isabelle (Sophie Marceau) to go offer Wallace land and more if he’ll stop fighting. (Why the daughter-in-law? Because her husband, Prince Edward (Peter Hanly), is a coward who Longshanks doesn’t trust to do anything.) But Wallace stands firm, and Isabelle, knowing about Murron’s death, sympathizes with Wallace.

     Long story short, Wallace keeps fighting the English, impregnates Isabelle, and eventually gets captured and convicted of treason. But Wallace, even in his prison cell, will not yield to the English. And so, in front of a condemning crowd, Wallace is beaten, his entrails are removed, and he is finally beheaded. But before his death, he is given one last chance to save himself: surrender and he will be released. But Wallace shouts only one thing: “FREEDOM!” And the crowd shouts, and he is executed.

     It’s pretty easy to figure out who William Wallace reminds a lot of people of. I mean, in the Gospels, a condemning crowd shouted at a crucified Jesus, challenging him to take himself down from the cross, if He really was the Son of God. And what did Jesus say? He prayed: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) He willingly died on the cross, and by doing so and rising from the dead on the third day, he gave us the freedom that William Wallace desired for Scotland. But the freedom we have in Jesus is so much more! Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have freedom to choose to live for Him!

     The Apostle Paul talks about this in 2 Corinthians 3, where he talks about how Moses covered his face with a veil when he read the old law or covenant. “Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (3:15-17) Because of Jesus, we are free to know Jesus, free to trust Jesus, and free to live for Jesus.

     My prayer for you, the reader, is that you will find in Jesus the freedom to say “yes” to him, and you would love others as Christ loved you and freely gave Himself up for you.

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