Braveheart: the Worst Film for Best Picture Essays

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Mel Gibson’s Braveheart is routinely named in polls of film critics as the worst movie ever to have won the Academy Award for best picture, and it is easy to see why. The acting in the film ranges from the blandly unmemorable to the mortifying. Negligible as Scottish history, but it is undeniably a political film. Gibson clearly did not intend to venture into a political debate—the film is structurally and visually standard Hollywood fare, a costume drama of the sort normally considered a “prestige picture” or “Oscar bait,” and the Academy swallowed it whole and awarded Braveheart the 1995 Academy Award for Best Picture.
Coincidently the 1995 release date would coincide with the political push towards Scottish “devolution”
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Yet what astonishes is the long theatrical length of the scene here, with no change of location. The comedy lands so badly- not only because it is morally offensive, but also because the dramaturgy here is as creaky and antiquated as a Feydeau farce. On the basis of these two scenes it is possible to generalize about the editing: Gibson has a taste for long stretches of purely aestheticized schmaltz, with full-on mood lighting, constructed as manipulatively as possible, whether for a crude laugh or a ludicrous Thomas Kinkaid style descent into soft-core erotica. The wooing of Murran by Wallace intersperses brief boring scenes devoted to plot, then wastes long stretches with dreary Celtic piping playing over two nude people demonstrating a complete lack of sexual chemistry by moonlight. The editing is usually content to show us everything, although there will be cutting away to imply unseen action, as in the final torturing of Wallace when we watch reaction shots—including the oddly sexual look of satisfaction on Murren’s face as the axe comes down—which imply the grotesque tortures inflicted on his body while not showing a drop of blood. The camera is usually angled wide to catch some more of the dreary Scottish countryside. Even when indoors for scenes involving the English villains, there is usually a wide frame so that we can see Edward the Second

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