"Outlaw King" Gives the Historical Accuracy of ‘Braveheart’
The War of Independence of Scotland was one of the first European medieval conflicts, in which the laws of chivalry were actually rejected by both sides and ordinary residents began to suffer from the opposition of the overlords. The British, who considered the Scots sworn to the English king as traitors, resorted to terror, the Scots, who were significantly inferior to the occupiers in numbers and weapons, began to use partisan tactics. It was a dirty, brutal war in which both sides did not disdain anything. Actually, this is what David Mackenzie showed her, focusing in Outlaw King on a realistic depiction of hostilities, murders and executions. Sometimes it's even too realistic.
Outlaw King captures the life of Robert I the Bruce since the fall of Sterling in 1304 and the Scottish nobility taking a vassal oath to King Edward I Longlegs of England before the Battle of Loudon Hill in May 1307, Bruce's first significant victory to turn the tide of the war. In principle, all the main events of this period: the execution of William Wallace, the assassination of John Comyn, the coronation in Skun, the defeat at Methven, the execution of the Bruce brothers, the capture of his family, etc., are present in the film, but there is enough free treatment of historical facts.
So, the wedding of Bruce and Elizabeth de Burgh was postponed from 1302 to 1304, while the return of the queen from captivity, which in reality took 8 long years, is shown as if she was released almost immediately after the defeat of the British at Loudon Hill, although there are actually 7 years between these events. Yes,
However, the authors of the film take the greatest liberty almost at the end, showing a duel between Bruce and Edward II in a battle in which Edward did not participate at all. Actually, this moment, one of the strangest in an almost realistic picture, and the deliberate demonization and dehumanization of Edward II leave an unpleasant impression. Of course, Edward II was not the best ruler of England, and he ended up badly, but in the film he was shown as a sadist, a hysterical woman and a rag. And, by the way, they did not say a word about the homosexuality of the king (historians are still arguing about this fact, but in general they are inclined to this opinion), apparently, so as God forbid not to offend the modern LGBT community by the fact that the only scoundrel in the whole picture is gay.
David Mackenzie seems to be somewhat carried away by the historical surroundings, all these tough guys in beautiful armor, pennants fluttering in the wind, siege engines, formidable castles inscribed in picturesque Scottish landscapes. Yes, it turned out really beautiful, high quality and realistic. The battles of Methven and Loudon Hill are almost the most realistic portrayal of the battles and horrors of medieval war, and Chris Pine's "look at two thousand yards" in the final of the decisive battle is really impressive. But, in addition to this look and a touching attitude towards his wife (this is, to put it mildly, a very romanticized version of the story, the king had almost more bastards than legitimate children), the actual figure of Bruce in the film is not.
Chris Pine, who fits the character very well, tries to bring it to life, but he just doesn't have enough content for that. Grief for the fallen brothers and tears over the deceased boy squire is, of course, not bad, but what really moved Bruce? Why did he change sides several times? Why did he break a sacred oath? The lofty speeches about patriotism, put into the mouth of Bruce, are somewhat ahead of their time, there were no nation states and national identity in the XIV century yet. In reality, Bruce was obsessed with the crown and walked towards it, despite the sacrifices and obstacles. This obsession is lacking in the film, most of the time Bruce is collected, calm and confident. Not a persecuted rebel, but an exemplary king from a children's book.
Outlaw King was released on Netflix, and immediately with Russian voice acting, and today, with a budget of $ 120 million, is one of the most expensive films on the service. By the way, about 20 minutes were cut from the final version of the picture, including some battle scenes, a chase scene and a scene of the meeting between Robert the Bruce and William Wallace. I wonder if an extended version of the movie will appear on Netflix?
Despite some flaws, the Outlaw King looks pretty good overall. It is, of course, much weaker than Braveheart, but allows you to see the continuation of the story shown in Gibson's film. Honestly, I would not even refuse the second part, which tells about the further course of the War of Independence of Scotland, right up to the landmark victory at Bannockburn in 1314 and the real duel between Robert I the Bruce and Henry de Bohun.