Instigator / Pro
70
1942
rating
89
debates
100.0%
won
Topic

The Movie "Braveheart" ought to be renamed.

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Finished

All stages have been completed. The voting points distribution and the result are presented below.

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6
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3
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With 10 votes and 55 points ahead, the winner is ...

oromagi
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Category
Movies
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Three days
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Open voting
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Two weeks
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Four points
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Required rating
1500
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15
1374
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~ 414 / 5,000

I propose that the 1995 Academy award winning movie "Braveheart" ought to be renamed out of respect for Scottish history and the descendants of Robert the Bruce.

I'm requesting friendly and sincere participation: acceptance of this debate acknowledges that failing on either count is subject to consideration under conduct in voting. Any forfeiture should be treated by voters as resignation and automatic loss.

Round 1
Pro
I see you just joined DART, alanwang123.  Thanks for accepting this debate and welcome to the site.

I propose that the 1995 Academy award winning movie "Braveheart" ought to be renamed out of respect for Scottish history and the descendants of Robert the Bruce.

I expect most people are familiar with the film.  Braveheart's on certain cable channels like AMC frequently and the film is certainly a highly entertaining and watchable move, minus the stilted unfactual romance and Gibson's awkwardly indulgent self-crucifixion.  I watched a little bit of it this morning on AMC, in fact.

I credit the film for sparking my interest in the history of a country not my own but I'm troubled that a popular and well-received film should prove so counter-factual and false in the presentation of that history.  I think we can agree that we possess something of a moral obligation to our ancestors to tell their stories with some accuracy.  If we assert, as most people do today, that a person's biography is one's own, then that biography deserves credit and truth, within the boundaries of artistic license, even centuries after death.  If someone should tell your story again some seven hundred years from now, wouldn't you hope you received credit where credit was due, that your depiction was, if not flattering, at least true?

Braveheart is generally acknowledged as a profoundly ahistorical film: if you google "least historically accurate movies" Braveheart appears somewhere on each of the first 9 lists.  I won't take the time to lay out all the fake news but the film besmirches many real people's reputations, not just Bruce.  Isabella of France, who is remembered now as the "She-Wolf of France" for her active rulership as Queen Regent of England for three years is depicted a smitten turncoat surrendering to William Wallace's sexual magnetism, making the future Edward III a bastard by treason and not incidentally, delegitimizing the rule of all successive English monarchs. In truth, Wallace was executed for treason when Isabella was still a child in France.  Historically, Wallace's co-commander at the Battle of Stirling Bridge was Andrew Moray, who, unlike Wallace, actually fought on the field that day and died later as a Scottish hero, of his injuries there sustained.  In the movie, Moray is Mornay, one of the clan chieftains who betrays Wallace at Falkirk and is killed by Wallace in vengeance on horseback indoors.

Likewise, Robert the Bruce, the winner of the First Scottish War of Independence, the victor of the Battle of Bannockburn, the restorer of the Scottish monarchy and King Robert I has much of his hero's glory stolen and given instead to William Wallace.  Essentially, what we have is the second most important figure of the First Scottish War of Independence, Wallace,  recast as the first most important figure and falsely clothed in some of the reputation of the first most import figure, Bruce.

The deepest injury is the theft of Bruce's famous epithet, "The Braveheart."  Although King Robert I died of leprosy at 54;

"Robert had requested that his heart be taken on a tour of the Holy Land and presented before God at Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre before ultimately being buried at Melrose Abbey in Roxburghshire. The heart was given to Sir James Douglas in a metal urn to be worn on a necklace. However before Douglas and his company of knights could undertake the heart’s holy tour, they were called to fight against the Moors attempting to take Spain—the heart went along with.
Sir James Douglas was killed in a surprise attack, but before the confronting his attackers he is said to have thrown the heart urn ahead of him and shouted, “Lead on brave heart, I’ll follow thee.” Robert the Bruce’s heart was carried along with Douglas’ remains back to Scotland. " [1]
The traditional Braveheart of Scottish history refers to the embalmed heart of Robert the Bruce, now a Scottish relic and a national emblem..  Although Robert I was probably never called Braveheart during his lifetime, the epithet is his, in honor of his cherished memory.

William Wallace was never called the Braveheart until the 1995 film stole the Bruce's credit and gave it to Wallace, a false and unjust usurpation.  Would it be fair if a modern work stole the moniker "Lionheart" from Richard I and gave it instead to his brother John?  Would it be just if a movie started calling General Grant "Honest Uly" instead of Honest Abe?  A movie that allegedly depicts events of the First Scottish War of Independence takes the honor meant for the victor of that war and gives it to another.  Imagine if an American Purple heart was given to one man but credited to another unearned- would not that be a wrong worthy of correction?

What's more, the Bruce is shown as actively betraying William Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk by siding with Edward Longshanks of England.  The actual Bruce fought alongside Wallace at Falkirk, or more accurately Bruce and Wallace fled English capture together after Wallace's plan collapsed.   In truth, it was Wallace who was dishonored at Falkirk and in the wake of that failure Wallace resigned his titles as Guardian of Scotland in favor of Robert the Bruce. [2] 

After Falkirk, Wallace left Scotland for Europe and remained gone for as much as six years while Robert stayed and improved his Scottish rebellion until redemption was achieved at the Battle of Bannockburn sixteen years later, long after Wallace was finally captured  and then executed for treason.

Further, the movie takes the tactics employed by Bruce at Bannockburn and depicts them as used instead by Wallace at the Battle of Stirling, which was more of an ambush on a prone army in transit than a pitched battle pitting Scottish pike vs. English horse and bow.

Given these cases of stolen valor, I think the memory of William Wallace is unjustly improved at the expense of the memory of Robert the Bruce and his descendants.  We might note that the current Princess of Wales is a direct descendant of the Bruce, as will be any future English monarchs by her. [3]

Of course, it is too late to rewrite the movie or edit out the history fails but the movie is popular, in part, because the falsely attributed achievements of Bruce.  I think renaming the movie from Braveheart to something else, "William Wallace" perhaps would serve as a minor act of contrition and historical correction.  Now, I'm not suggesting any kind of legal or industrial action.  However, I do note that the owners of the title "Braveheart" have recently gone through some changes.  Mel Gibson's Icon Production is essentially out of business and 20th Century Fox is gone, leaving Disney in charge of the film's international distribution rights.  Perhaps a petition and some social media campaigning in favor of historical accuracy might be persuasive to new gatekeepers.  Disney might even profit by renaming the film and then re-releasing the movie for a renewed theatrical run under the new name and with a renewed interest in making true stories more true.

So here is a minor wrong. Perhaps a major wrong in the realm of history on film but a minor wrong in the hierarchy of global suffering and so I propose a minor act of education and correction- giving credit where credit is due.  I look forward to discovering what objections Con might present to such a plan.


Con
Forfeited
Round 2
Pro
That's a shame, alanwang123. 

Please note instigator requested that any forfeiture should be treated by voters as resignation and automatic loss.

Extend arguments and vote Pro.
Con
Forfeited
Round 3
Pro
Please note instigator requested that any forfeiture should be treated by voters as resignation and automatic loss.

Extend arguments and vote Pro.

Con
Forfeited