In May of 1995, a story written by Randal Wallace was brought to life on the big screen and unveiled in movie theaters across the globe. This month, 20 years later, the film, Braveheart ranks among one of the greatest films of all time. Like all great stories, it possesses all the essential ingredients we hold dear: love, adventure, inspiration, justice, friendship, family, betrayal, and the timeless essential ingredient of good verses evil, just to mention a few. The story, set in 13th Century Scotland, has stood the test of time and there are many good reasons. So, during this month of May, I want to give tribute to Braveheart on it’s 20 inspiring and impacting years.
I. Braveheart is a story about Fathers and Sons
I bet I have seen this film 15 times. I bet I have seen clips, scenes and trailers from this story well into the triple digits. It has moments that when collected and seen for the running themes they create, the story lines become obvious as to why Braveheart moves men’s hearts. One such theme is the story of four fathers and sons. This father/son dynamic might explain, at least in part, the story’s immense popularity among masculine hearts. Every man can look onto these moments the film offers and either relate through personal experience (both good and bad), or a man looks on and hopes… with a core longing lodged deep in every masculine heart for the someday experience a father bestows his blessing on a son.
The cast of Fathers and Sons…
Malcolm Wallace and William, and then William’s uncle Argyle
King Edward Longshanks and Prince Edward
Campbell and Hamish
Robert the Bruce and Robert the Bruce
Two strong and glorious relationships and two sad and tragic ones.
The tragedies first…
There is one line that sums up the King’s disappointment and at the same time expresses his diminishing “less than” message to his son. Longshanks, concerned about the advancing rebellion of the Scots, announces to his high court while pondering out loud whom he will send to offer terms…
Not my gentle son. The mere sight of him would only encourage an enemy to take over the whole country.
In the relationship of the two Bruces, father and son, the Scottish crown is at stake and father has negotiated with the enemy, Longshanks, position and title for his son. Throughout the story, the elder Robert the Bruce seeks power and compromises character and virtue to obtain it, while his son is not yet entirely pulled to the “dark side.” With the raging conflict between Wallace’s Scotland and Longshanks' England, young Robert is attracted to Wallace. The advice from father to son is contrary to the rebellion and is self-seeking, self-providing, constantly ruthless, and always compromising. This leads to the greater inner conflict that is the son’s story.
Later in the film, after the young Bruce succumbs to his fathers arranging, there is the final fall out between father and son. So brutal is the remorse and shame from the betrayal of Wallace that the son breaks into his fathers tower room declaring…
Robert the Bruce: I have nothing. Men fight for me because if they do not, I throw them off my land and I starve their wives and children. Those men who bled the ground red at Falkirk fought for William Wallace. He fights for something that I never had. And I took it from him when I betrayed him. I saw it in his face on the battlefield and it's tearing me apart.
Robert’s Father: All men betray. All lose heart.
Robert the Bruce: I DON’T WANT TO LOSE HEART! I want to believe as he does... I will never be on the wrong side again.
Now for the glorious ones...
Who can forget the two red-heads? The father and son warrior team of Wallace’s childhood friend, Hamish and his father, Campbell, who has lived for far too long under Longshanks' oppression. These two have many great moments in the story. After a horrible defeat in battle, what is left of the the Scotsmen are tending to their wounds and wounded. It is there that a beautiful scene unfolds, their last together when father dies in the arms of son…
Campbell (the father): I'm dying. Let me be.
Hamish: No. You're going to live.
Campbell: I've lived long enough to live free. Proud to see you become the man you are. I'm a happy man.
Oh, how men long to hear those words from their father. At any age, any time, these golden words are deeply nourishing to a man’s heart. It is one of the major reasons I wrote the book, The HeArt of a Warrior; Before You Can Become the Warrior, You Must Become the Beloved Son. When a man hears these life giving words from God and knows them to be true a man’s heart is settled. The enemy of Life and Freedom has nothing on a settled man, an oriented man, a dearly loved son. Sure the enemy will try to see a man compromise, but his accusations and luring invitations will have nowhere to land. A man is full when he experiences the deep love from the Father.
Lastly, the journey of William Wallace, Braveheart, begins in boyhood. His father, Malcolm, is a respected and strong presence among their clan of farmers. 13th century life is challenging. Families live together and depend on one another. As a boy, William wants to join his father and brother at a meeting with the new King of England, Longshanks. The very same Longshanks William would rebel against 25 years later.
Young Wallace: I want to go.
Malcolm: I need you to stay here and look after the place. (Malcolm puts his big Claymore sword on the horse).
Young Wallace: I can fight.
Malcolm (father): I know you can fight, but it's our wits that make us men.
Longshanks ambushes and kills almost all the Scotsman, part of his plan to subdue Scotland and claim his oppressive rule over its people and their land. Malcolm is among the casualties. Buried, and now William orphaned… for a moment. Argyle, Malcolm’s brother, rides in just as the burial service ends. Argyle claims young William, rescues him, setting in motion their futures together and the relationship of belovedness to continue. The night before Argyle and William are to leave, the boy has a dream, a vision—lying next to his diseased father they each turn their faces toward the other, and nose-to-nose father says to son…
Your heart is free... have the courage to follow it.
In the book, The HeArt of a Warrior, we wanted to share and invite this truth—being a Beloved Son of a Good Father, free, makes all the difference in the world. The story, Braveheart, offers this truth over and over. It is the foundation for its story and it is the same foundation we find in our story… this epic love story in the midst of a great battle. Experiencing it is the difference between a man offering his strength and bestowing love to others versus trying to get our strength and needing love from others.
One leads to bondage; ours and theirs; the other leads to freedom… ours and theirs.