Term Paper: Movies Gladiator and Braveheart

Pages: 8 (2538 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Drama - World  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Importantly, the portrayal of Scottish hero, within the movie Braveheart, Robert Bruce as a traitorous weasel has little evidence to support it.

Certainly, the betrayal of William Blake, at Falkirk, by Robert Bruce never occurred.

Interestingly, the hero William Wallace led a rebellion against the English occupation of Scotland in 1296. Wallace was led to trial and summarily executed after he was captured. Some critics have certainly argued that these basic facts are the only historical facts that are certainly true in the movie Braveheart.

Braveheart portrays the hero, Wallace, as a poor man before to his difficulties with the English. In reality, Wallace had a good education, and may have become a scholar. The Lowland and Boarder Scots, who were historically involved in the battles shown in the Braveheart, most likely did not wear kilts, which were not well-known to the Saxons. Instead, they would have donned simple wool tunics and cloaks. In addition, in reality, the princess shown in the movie (as an adult woman) was barely six years old.

Interestingly, the movie Gladiator also contains numerous historical inaccuracies, often as serious as those seen in the movie Braveheart. Certainly, the main character, Maximus never existed in real life.

Commodus, however, was a real Emperor. He reigned, beginning in AD180, for twelve years (far longer than depicted in the movie). He became Emperor after his father died in a tent during a long battle, far from Rome. This fact is highly similar to the Commodus' father in the movie, Gladiator. Interestingly, in real life, Commodus gained the title of the Emperor by fair means, and he did not kill his rival, as seen in the movie.

In real life, Commodus executed his sister, after he uncovered a plot to assassinate him. In the movie, Commodus does not execute his sister. Instead, he makes his/her virtual slave, and holds her son as a hostage.

As seen in the movie, Gladiator, the real Emperor Commodus was fascinated by gladiatorial game. He also took part in the games, as depicted in the movie. In real life Commodus dies at the hands of the athlete Narcissus; he did not die in the gladiatorial arena, at the hands of a foe.

The brutality of the gladiatorial games, shown in the movie, is certainly true to life. Roman gladiatorial games were known for their bloody fights, and the use of animals in the gladiatorial arena. As shown in the movie, gladiators were popular with women.

The movies Gladiator and Braveheart both have their roots in recorded history. This history has been dramatized in order to obtain the most entertainment value. Therefore, it can be argued that the movies are truly historically inaccurate. At worst these movies should be considered pure, unadulterated works of fiction. Nonetheless, despite a great deal of controversy surrounding the historical inaccuracies of both movies, both Gladiator and Braveheart have been highly successful.

In Braveheart, the English King is portrayed as a one-dimensional and unconvincing portrayal. In Gladiator, the main villain, Commodus is portrayed in a much more realistic and human way. While he is certainly weak, unethical, and power-hungry, we can't help but sympathize with him. He certainly tries to win the love of his unbending father, only to be told he is a great failure, as his father lies dying. Commodus becomes a great, complex villain. We almost despise him more because he is a more highly rounded character. Not only do we see that Commodus is truly and unequivocally an evil being, but we also understand what drove him to his horrific acts. Somehow, this knowledge serves to make him appear more evil, and more menacing than Braveheart's one-dimensional villain, the English King.

The cinematography in both Braveheart and Gladiator was truth beautiful. The cinematography in Braveheart was breathtaking, and showed the amazing greens of the Scottish highlands. In contrast, the cinematography in Gladiator was more wide-ranging. The movie opens with a long, complex battle scene. The camera alternately speeds up and slows down, taking us on a ride, and pulling us into the unspeakable horrors of battle. The scenes in Gladiator range from the desert, to the lush surroundings of Maximus' home, to the amazing and awesome scenes of the Coliseum.

Both Braveheart and Gladiator focus, in large part, on beautifully shot and breathtaking battle scenes. The movies both act to show the horror and futility of war and violence, and both movies show battle as terribly horribly violent and frightening. Interestingly, Gladiator shows much bloodier and violent battle scenes, than are shown in the movie Braveheart. Interestingly, both movies show realistic and brutal hand-to-hand combat in a reasonably realistic and convincing manner.

Certainly, both Braveheart and Gladiator appeal to the audience, by focusing on the incredible lives of the heroes. Both heroes fight unwaveringly for what they consider to be right; they are brave beyond reason, and honourable far beyond duty. Both movies deal with the topic of peoples struggle for freedom and peace. In both movies, the main character must overcome betrayal, and horrific circumstance to become true heroes.

In both movies, the protagonist is a truly brave, charismatic leader. The leader reluctantly helps an oppressed people see the evil of their oppressors, and rise up against this oppression. In both movies, the hero dies tragically. In Braveheart, however, William Wallace has won his battle against the evil King. In contrast, Maximus' plot to overthrow the evil Commodus is initially thwarted, and many people die. In the end, Commodus is defeated in the gladiatorial area, but Maximus also dies. In Gladiator, the ending is somewhat ambiguous. The end of the movie leaves the fate of the Empire in the hands of the very young Emperor to be. Certainly, the fate of both his beautiful mother and the entire Roman people are left in the hands of a very young boy.

Works Cited

Bradley, K.R. Slavery and Rebellion in the Roman World. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1989.

Braveheart. Director: Mel Gibson. VHS, 1995.

Gladiator. Director: Ridley Scott. VHS, 2000.

Goldstein, R.J. The matter of Scotland: Historical narrative in medieval Scotland. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

Spartacus. Director: Stanley Kubrick. VHS, MCA, 1960.

May, Tom. Gladiator. 23 April 2002. http://www.geocities.com/tommay_e17/gladiator.html [END OF PREVIEW]

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