Director: Mel Gibson
Writer: Randall Wallace
Stars: James Robinson, Sean Lawlor, Sandy Nelson, James Cosmo
Runtime: 177 min
Genre: Action, Biography, Drama
Released: 24 May 1995
Synopsis: William Wallace is a Scottish rebel who leads an uprising against the cruel English ruler Edward the Longshanks, who wishes to inherit the crown of Scotland for himself. When he was a young boy, William Wallace’s father and brother, along with many others, lost their lives trying to free Scotland. Once he loses another of his loved ones, William Wallace begins his long quest to make Scotland free once and for all, along with the assistance of Robert the Bruce.
In the 13th Century England, after several years of political unrest in Scotland, the land is open to an invasion from the south. King Edward I of England (Patrick McGoohan) has decided to conquer Scotland. After invading Scotland and winning the war by 1280 A.D., Edward (known as ‘Longshanks’) grants areas of land in Scotland to his nobility which they are to rule, along with the traditional privileges. One of the privileges granted to English lords ruling Scotland was Primae Noctis, the right for the lord to take a newly married Scottish woman into his bed and spend the wedding night with the bride. Longshanks’ plan is to breed out the population of Scotland.
In the northern Scottish town of Lanark, a young boy named William Wallace, follows his father and brother to a meeting of Scottish nobles, arranged by Longshanks himself. When Wallace Senior and his older son arrive at the meeting place, they see that the Scots have all been hanged, along with their servants. William also sees the hanging corpses and panics when his father finds him.
Wallace Senior attends another meeting where it’s decided that they will go to war with the English. William wishes to accompany his father and brother, however, his father tells him to stay home and mind the farm. A few days later, Campbell Senior, William’s best friend’s (Hamish) father arrives at the farm. William’s father is killed in battle, as was his brother. Following the funeral, William is given a thistle by a young girl. William’s uncle, Argyle, arrives on horseback and tells William that he’ll be leaving home with him. That night William and Argyle listen to bagpipers play a tribute for William’s dead family. Argyle tells William that the pipes are outlawed. He also sees William’s interest in his sword and tells William that he’ll give him a traditional education and teach him how to fight later.
Epilogue. On June 24, 1314, nearly nine years after Wallace’s death, Robert the Bruce, now a Scottish king and still guilt-ridden over his involvement Wallace’s betrayal, leads a strong Scottish army and faces a ceremonial line of English troops at the fields of Bannockburn where the English under their new king, Edward II (who had ascended the English throne upon the death of his father Edward Longshanks in 1307), are to accept him as the rightful ruler of Scotland. Just as he is about to cross the field to accept the English endorsement, the Bruce turns back to his troops. Invoking Wallace’s memory, he urges his charges to fight with him as they did with Wallace. Robert then turns toward the English troop line and leads a charge toward the English, who were not expecting to fight.
The film ends with Mel Gibson’s voice intoning that the Scottish won their freedom in this battle.