Would the Real William Wallace Please Stand Up


  • Malcolm D Broun


William Wallace


The object of this paper is to give a brief outline of the life of William Wallace, and to make references in passing to the film, Braveheart, loosely based on the life of William Wallace, starring the Australian actor Mel Gibson. Without wishing to detract in any way from the marvellous spirit of Scottish nationalism which the film produced, the comments on the film will inevitably point primarily to just a few of the film's historical inaccuracies. Films for popular consumption should perhaps not be expected to be historically accurate. The image of Wallace in the minds of such parts of the public who have heard of him at all, is largely myth. Great historical figures gather myths around them and the Scots are among the great myth builders. Braveheart the film builds on the myths of Wallace, but at the expense of adding invention where there was no need. Edward I of England is portrayed as deliciously evil, by Patrick McGooan, but the most evil thing Edward I did in Scotland, the sack and slaughter of Berwick in 1298, does not appear in the film. When there was so much real horror, heroism, honour and deception in reality, what is the need for more myth building?