Civic Imagination


Braveheart takes place in 13th Century Scotland, during which time the country is invaded and conquered by the English. The 1995 film is based on real historical events and Scottish history, as William Wallace was a leader during the Wars of Scottish Independence. Wallace, the protagonist of the story, initially tries to rid his homeland of the English by gathering together his clan of Scots. When that has little success Wallace builds an army of inexperienced Scottish men to rise up against the English. The war is ultimately won, as the Scots gain back their independence and reject the English and their monarchy.

This story was passed on through not only film, but also history. In my community, the story of William Wallace and the Wars of Scottish Independence were taught in schools and were usually accompanied by a showing of the movie. I personally, first encountered the story as a student in secondary school in my history classes while growing up in Scotland. Additionally, the story has been passed down through out verbal and written history. In addition to that, the story is also told through popular culture as the story is spread through Hollywood’s adaptation of the original story. The story appeals to me now due to the current events that are happening in the UK in reference to the recent votes on Scottish independence and the ongoing discussion surrounding independence from the rest of the United Kingdom. It is also relevant to the more recent ‘Brexit’ decision that clearly showed the country was divided in the decision to leave the EU. This decision embodied the growing disparities between Scotland and England, similar to what is seen in the movie and described in textbooks. The story of ‘Braveheart’ and William Wallace, is broadly known within the United Kingdom; especially thanks to the 1995 film that helped to spread the story and in some ways encourage people to learn about the actual events that took place around the 1300s. The story resonates with me personally as I think about what the future of Scotland looks like, whether it’s an independent country, and whether it’s part of the European Union. 

This story can inspire, as it’s an example that Scottish people can look to when they consider Scottish independence. I think that people can often feel constrained to the idea of Britain being a historically united country, when in reality that has not always been the case. It is also a story of a successful uprising, where the underdogs triumphed, as the amateur Scottish army was able to defeat the far more powerful English. This can also be applied to any country that feels that those in power within their communities do not represent them.

Scotland, Independence, Film

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