a prime role in
Scotland’s independence movement, according to a new book based on
hundreds of thousands of people’s reactions to the film
author Lin Anderson, who started the
MacBraveHeart website with her
husband John in 1995 as Mel Gibson’s film was released, has collated a
decade of web responses to the retelling of the story of William
In her new book Braveheart: From Hollywood To Holyrood,
she argues that the film which brought a once-obscure Scots
freedom-fighter to global attention swelled a tide of opinion which led
to the 1997 vote for a new Scottish parliament.
The book, which
Anderson said has been written with “the blessing” of the Braveheart
screenplay writer Randall Wallace, includes extracts from his original
script as well as quotations from his speeches at a Braveheart
convention in 1997.
It will be launched next month, with a
special debate at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, supported
by the Scottish Executive and including a presentation from culture and
tourism minister Patricia Ferguson.
Anderson, who has written
the book in the run-up to the 700th anniversary of Wallace’s death on
August 23, said the film’s impact was extraordinary.
doubt, Braveheart contributed to the political movement within
Scotland, although I am not saying devolution would not have happened
without it,” she said.
“But it gave an international perspective
on Scotland, which gave people confidence . It has become part of the
fabric of Scotland. There was anger that people didn’t know who William
Wallace was, and had been cheated of their history .
“But whether it is myth or reality, it created an aspirational national hero at a time when we needed heroes.”
the historical accuracy of the film was disputed at the time, Anderson
investigates the script’s basis, and a 15th-century epic poem by Blind
Wallace, the son of a Scottish knight, led revolts
against the taxes and conscription imposed by England’s King Edward I
after Scotland had been conquered in 1296. After winning the Battle of
Stirling Bridge against English forces, he became a Guardian of
Scotland then went to France to plead its cause with King Philip IV.
his return, he was declared an outlaw, betrayed and captured at
Robroyston, Glasgow, on August 3, 1305. Taken to London and given a
mock trial, he was hung, drawn and quartered, and his body sent to hang
in the four parts of the kingdom.
When Gibson told his story on
film, Anderson argues that he helped revive one of Scotland’s most
powerful icons. At the opening of the Scottish parliament in 1999, TV
coverage began and ended with James Horner’s music for the film.
In the book, she claims: “Braveheart impacted on Scotland and the world
with a force as mysterious and contentious as Wallace himself. For
Scots it reminded them of what they once were, what they are now and
what they yet might be. To the world it gave back the hero, once upheld
as the first freedom-fighter.”
Gavin MacDougall, director of
Luath Press and publisher of the book, said: “Braveheart struck chords
with people around the world. It deals with universal themes which are
as relevant today as they were 10 or 700 years ago. Historians in the
future will no doubt argue its influence on the outcome of Scotland’s
devolution referendum of 1997.”
The Edinburgh International Book Festival debate, Wallace: The Man And The Myth, is on August 17 at 6.30pm.
31 July 2005