PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 December, 2010, 12:00am

Starring: Mel Gibson and Sophie Marceau
Director: Mel Gibson
Year of original release: 1995
Genre: Historical epic

The film

Braveheart tells the story of William Wallace (1272-1305), a Scottish warrior who fought for his country's freedom from English rule. Wallace was an actual person who lived at the end of the 13th century, but the filmmakers changed some facts.

Wallace is still remembered in Scotland as a national hero for leading an uprising for Scottish independence.

Braveheart is a strong and violent battle epic. Its theme is strong on patriotism, freedom, treachery and love. It earned actor-director Mel Gibson Oscars both in the best picture and best director categories.


As a young boy, Wallace sees both his father and his older brother lose their lives while fighting to free Scotland from English tyranny. He sets out to follow in their footsteps to drive the English invaders from his native land.

Most Scots despise the English king and nobility, but they lack a charismatic leader to help them fight back. Wallace becomes that leader and begins the long struggle to free his homeland. But the English army has numbers and power on their side. The English king decides to get rid of Wallace so that he can bring Scotland fully under English rule.

Little is known about the real-life Wallace apart from a few facts in an old Scottish epic poem. Braveheart fleshed out his life and personality with a great deal of fiction and myth. There is no doubt, however, that Wallace was a hero to the people of Scotland. He never shies away from a fight, earning himself the nickname 'Braveheart' from his followers.

The story of the kilt

The kilt is the national costume for men in Scotland. The skirt-like garment serves mostly a ceremonial function these days. Yet in Scottish cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh, you can still see locals proudly wearing the kilt. The kilt has also been adapted into contemporary clothing styles by fashion designers all over the world.

The original kilt, which was worn by Scotsmen in the 13th and 14th centuries, was simply a long length of woollen material wrapped around the waist. In later centuries, it evolved into a tailored garment with sewn-in pleats, making it neater and easier to wear. Scottish soldiers have always worn the kilt and still do today on formal occasions.

In Scotland today, men often wear kilts for weddings, sporting occasions and other ceremonial gatherings. Modern kilts are made of up to eight metres of woollen material pleated at the back and sides.

Here's an important question: Does a Scotsman wear underwear under his kilt? Most kilt-wearing Scots will not give you an answer! What a Scotsman wears under his kilt is a closely guarded secret. He will not share that information with anyone who doesn't have Scottish blood in his veins.

Scotland vs England

Scotland is part of the United Kingdom. Until recently, the country was allowed to have its own parliament with limited powers, but all Scottish affairs were controlled from London, the capital of both England and the UK.

Since the days of Wallace, several nationalistic movements have tried unsuccessfully to get rid of English rule. Today, the Scottish National Party advocates complete freedom from the United Kingdom.

The first war of Scottish Independence erupted in 1297, when widespread discontent at English invasions by King Edward Longshanks' soldiers caused Scots to rise in revolt. The war was long and violent. It finally came to an end in 1328 with the signing of the Edinburgh-Northampton treaty. The terms of the treaty forced England to recognise Scotland as a fully independent nation with Robert the Bruce (1274-1329) as its king.

An uneasy peace existed between England and Scotland until 1603, when England's great queen Elizabeth I died without children. The next in line to inherit the throne became King James of Scotland. King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England. His rule united two countries that had been eyeing each other with mistrust for centuries.

The two rival nations became a part of United Kingdom.

Colours, stripes and squares

Scottish tartan is a pattern of criss-crossed vertical and horizontal stripes and bands in various colours woven together into a length of woollen cloth. The Scottish kilt is always made in tartan, but the pattern has now been borrowed by designers all over the world. It can be seen on everything from rubber boots to note pads.

Tartan cloth is woven in alternating bands of coloured threads at right angles to each other so as to yield a pattern of squares and stripes. Until the middle of the 19th century, the different regions and districts of Scotland had their own tartan designs. As individual families gained more power, they also created their own tartans. The Campbell clan, the Stewarts, the MacMillans all showed off their wealth and family identity by having their own distinctive tartan.

Today tartan is no longer limited to textiles. It's also printed on paper, wall-coverings, plastics and cardboard. Modern tartan-patterned clothes are particularly popular in Japan. In Edinburgh, Scotland's capital, Japanese visitors are big buyers of anything designed in tartan.