Working on it
Forget for a moment that there are more historical inaccuracies in this movie than there were arrows launched in the battles. Just take the movie at face value and enjoy it for the wonderful story telling that it is.
Braveheart is narrated by Robert the Bruce, telling you about the great hero, William Wallace. You watch the life of Wallace from beginning to end. However, the actual story is about the hesitant rise of Robert the Bruce, to become the leader of the Scots.
Halfway through the movie, the Scots learn that the English are sending a massive army up north to Falkirk. The Scottish nobles desperately want to negotiate a peace until Wallace walks into the hall. He calls them all cowards for not wanting to fight. To ease the tension in the room, Robert the Bruce calls Wallace aside to talk with him alone. There, William convinces Robert to unite the clans and to go to battle with him.
In the battle, Scottish leaders Mornay and Lachlan betray the Scots, and the Scots are forced to retreat. Wallace sees the betrayal, but redirects his focus towards the King, who is leaving the battlefield.
One of the king’s guard falls back to attack Wallace, but is subdued and about to have his throat slit when his helmet is removed and…
Oh my god.
The greatest scene in Braveheart is Wallace’s speech to rally the Scottish army before the battle of Stirling. But this scene, where Wallace and Robert exchange no words but only looks, is the most underrated scene in the movie. Just look at Wallace’s face. He’s completely broken. His unrelenting spirit and desire to kill every English soldier, has been extinguished.
That’s how much Robert the Bruce’s betrayal hurt him. He could take the betrayals of Mornay and Lochlan. They were a bunch of petty nobles who cared more about themselves than anything. But the Bruce was supposed to be different. The rightful heir to the Scottish throne, the two of them shook hands in full view of everyone in Edinburgh. And now the Bruce is marching under the flag of the English? The Bruce, realizing the magnitude of what he’s done, sits back, and can only blankly stare back at William, whose soul is about to leave his body. When he turns to spot a group of English soldiers running to him, Wallace has no fight left in him. He gives up and merely lays down, awaiting his fate.
And all of this was conveyed with no words.
There are many television and movie characters who seek redemption for a heinous or traitorous act they’ve committed. It’s very rare that the character gets that very chance right after their betrayal has been revealed. Robert the Bruce gets that chance. William Wallace has given up, but the Bruce has not. He runs over to William and pulls up his limp body.
Stephen, one of Wallace’s captains, rides in on horseback to save William from certain death. There, he bears witness to the Bruce’s redemption, as he watches the Bruce carry William fireman style over his shoulder, and on to Stephen’s horse.
”Go!” the Bruce yells to Stephen, as the two of them exchange a glance. Stephen rides off, with the English soldiers in hot pursuit. The Bruce picks up William’s wedding gift and remembers who he really is; a Scot.