Watched Braveheart last night, having not seen it in years. Well, it’s still a great film telling a great yarn, as long as you don’t confuse it for being historically factual. I will just say it was nice watching a film with a proper beginning, middle and, gosh, an honest-to-goodness end, as opposed to closing with a tease for the follow-up Braveheart 2 and 3.
But in a way, they did indeed make a sort-of sequel to Braveheart. Not that anybody responsible had any inclination they were doing it.
A few months ago Ch4 screened a miniseries based on Ken Follett’s World Without End book. A medieval drama akin to Game of Thrones, The Tudors, The Borgias and Spartacus in style and approach, it’s a multi-layered tale with several interconnected threads running through it. The main thread concerns Queen Isabella (Aure Atika) and her machinations for political power. Viewers of Braveheart will recall her character being played by Sophie Marceau. In Braveheart, Isabella fell in love with Mel Gibson’s William Wallace in an unlikely affair and became pregnant with his son just prior to the film’s end. In World Without End, she is older and bitter, and has just placed her son Edward III (Blake Ritson) on the throne after arranging the secret assassination of her husband, Edward II. In light of Braveheart‘s version of history, it can be seen as her usurping her husband and placing Wallace’s secret son on the throne of England. A secret final victory for Wallace over his hated nemesis Edward the Longshanks.
Not to be done with just that, it later arises that Edward II (Ben Chaplin) is not dead at all, but posing as a monk, has hidden away for years in a monastery in Kingsbridge. At the grand conclusion of the miniseries, Edward III lays siege to rebellious Kingsbridge with his army, eventually learning that his ‘father’, the true King, still lives. Soon Edward III (secret and unknowing son of Wallace, bear with me here) is set in deadly combat with Edward II- so we see the son of Edward the Longshanks fighting to the death against the son of William (Braveheart) Wallace. Presto; a thrilling sequel to the original Braveheart movie as daft and historically inaccurate as the original. Unintentional of course but taken with this tongue-in-cheek point of view, its a pretty mind-blowing saga all told. If they had billed the miniseries as an unofficial sequel it may have gotten more viewers.
And to spare you looking up the history books, Edward III kills Edward II and so William Wallace can be seen to have won his final glorious victory, placing his Scottish son on the throne of hated England. So the ending of Braveheart isn’t so tragic after all- it all turns out right in the end.