I remember being supremely astounded and, at times, moved while watching this dramatized biopic of William Wallace, a 13th century Scottish partisan. I don't remember an earlier three hour movie that I was able to sit through before Braveheart.
While the film's story takes many liberties with history, it follows the life of William Wallace (Mel Gibson), as a young boy, into the beginning of his Scottish insurgence against English occupiers and up through his execution.
What the film does well is paint the portrait of a man driven by passion. While, I think his once rousing speech at Stirling has lost a bit of its impact on me, watching it for a fourth time, Wallace is still well painted as inspirational--I like how his own passion in the film is a driving force behind the other protagonist of the story, Robert the Bruce (Angus Macfadyen), future king of Scotland.
The movie is epic in scope and directed by Mel Gibson as such. While Gibson paints in broad strokes and exaggerates his villains and his heroes to drive home his point--not much for subtlety--it is effective. The war scenes are brutal, but I suppose war is brutal, so it's fair. Actors seem to do an admirable job with their roles.
I think Braveheart, over the years, has largely retained its grandiosity and not suffered much from aging and while I imagine its potency is especially empathetic towards those who crave that same passion that Wallace is displayed to have had, Braveheart remains a classic perhaps for that very reason. 8/10.