Monday, November 12, 2012

Feminism in Film: Braveheart

My next post in my reviews of Best Picture winning films! See all posts in this series here.

Initial Thoughts
This film is long. Three hours long. Now, I’m no stranger to long films (Gone With the Wind is my favorite and I’ve seen Cloud Atlas twice), but Braveheart was too long. Also blood. Blood everywhere.

The Critique
In Braveheart, the English King Edward I decides to bring back Primae Noctis. That’s when a common Scottish girl gets married and British lords have the right to have sex with her on her wedding night. Let’s be real here.  Old men get to rape a young girl because they’re on a big power trip. A quick google search proves that not only is the concept of Primae Noctis most likely a myth, but the English certainly never enforced it on Scotland. So...rape makes a compelling plot point? The story was a little boring so let’s liven it up a bit with rape? 

Rape appears to be a catalyst for this movie. Mel Gibson's character Wilson marries Murron, who dies just 45 minutes into the movie. Some English soldiers are attracted to her and attempt to rape her. But she fights back! Yay! And then her throat is slit to attract Wilson's attention.

Princess Isabelle of France is sent by the King to discuss terms of a surrender. Wilson is shocked at the thought of having this conversation with her and she says, "Will you speak with a woman?" Apparently that little question sparked a romance between the two, for later on they have sex and Isabelle conceives his child. But isn't he in love with Murron? Isn't that really what all of these battles are about? Whatevs, man, Wilson had the opportunity to get laid and he took it.

When Isabelle returns from speaking with Wilson, the King asks if she gave him the money. When she replied that it was donated, the King laughed and said "That's what happens when you send a woman".  Quite the subtle (note the sarcasm) jab about women's roles. Can't trust a woman to do anything important, am I right?

Also...this film had an all white cast. I'm not up to date on my history of Scotland, but that can't be right.

The Bechdel Test
*two named women? YES (Princess Isabelle, Murron)
*who talk to each other? NO
*about something other than men? N/A
            The women never speak to each other. The women are completely alone in a film that celebrates the triumph of masculinity. For god's sake, the final image of film is a sword. Phallic much?

Final Rating
0 stars

Awful movie.

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