is a typical guy movie
. Based on the legendary William Wallace
, the story is of how a kid loses his brave soldier dad in battle against the English
, grows up to become a strong man, then later leads a rebellion
against the English and dies a hero's death. However historically inaccurate
, the movie is extremely entertaining and well made.
The majority of the movie was shot in Ireland. The beginning scenes showing the Highlands and William as a wee lad were shot in Scotland. The movie used several extremely interesting techniques to film certain scenes that look very dangerous and realistic.
The battle scenes depicting the Battle of Stirling and the Battle of Falkirk show many horses being killed. This was shot using a combination of mechanical horses and real horses. This was quite expensive, as each mechanical horse cost nearly $100,000. When William is nearly killed by Robert the Bruce in the Falkirk battle scene, the organization PETA was strongly convinced that this was done using a real horse, and started an investigation. Luckily, the cast and crew were filming an unofficial behind the scenes segment for a personal friend's child in the hospital as a gift. Had it not been for this video to back up their story, Mel Gibson would have come under serious fire for animal abuse.
The battle scenes also show a huge number of soldiers. Actual soldiers from the Irish Army reserve corps were used to play both the Scottish and English soldiers. If one looks closely, you can see some of the same actors attacking from both the English side and the Scottish side.
The scene involving William killing Lord Mornay shows him smashing the man's skull while in bed. This seems like a very difficult special effect to pull off, but in the words of Mel Gibson, 'it was quite simply stupid.' This was done by using a simple cut and a dummy. If seen in slow motion, the ball comes down and misses Mornay's head. There is a sudden cut, and Mornay is replaced by a dummy wearing the same night clothes and filled with fake blood. A second ball comes down and smashes the head of the dummy. Seen at normal speed, it seems like Mornay is being brutally killed.
During the final scenes of William's torture and execution, Mel Gibson was hurt and nearly killed. At the beginning of the scene, Wallace is brought in to the execution and people pelt him with rotten food and other objects. Originaly, they were supposed to pelt him with fruit. However, only when they started shooting did Gibson realize how much it really hurt to have 50 or 60 people all hurling solid objects at you. He later had them throw soft and easily breakable items at him. While demonstrating how to shoot the scene where he is being hanged, Gibson accidently lost his footing, and was nearly actually hanged. He passed out, and was taken down immediately from the noose.
Despite certain blunders and near death experiences, the movie was shot and directed extremely well. Nobody, nor any animals, were badly hurt or killed in the shooting of the movie.