For as long as I can remember, Braveheart has been one of my all-time favorite movies. The passion, courage, and love that are included in the film are both exciting and inspirational, and I make it a point to watch it at least once a year. Though this movie is extremely inspiring, most of us would have a hard time finding any Christian significance from it. Surely a movie with such gore and violence couldn’t possibly have any spiritual meaning to it….or could it?
Below are some ways God revealed Himself to me one afternoon as I watched this film. I was literally brought to tears as I experienced the spiritual truths of this movie and am now convinced that Braveheart may be the most spiritually challenging film I’ve ever seen. Glance over what I believe each character represents and then watch the movie to see for yourself. I bet you won’t ever watch it the same way again!
1) King Edward Longshanks: “Satan”
Predictably, the main antagonist of the film, King Edward Longshanks, represents Satan. He is the “ruler of the world” and is obsessed with destroying anyone who rebels against his “authority.” He rules through intimidation and offers his followers worldly security if they follow him. All who fight on his behalf (his troops/warriors) represent the demonic forces of this world and are willing to do anything for him (simply out of fear). Longshanks feels no love or attachment to these people mind you, but only uses them to achieve his own evil purposes. This is never more evident than when he fires upon his own troops during battle…
2) William Wallace: “Jesus”
The main protagonist of the film is also fairly predictable: William Wallace represents Jesus. I know what you’re thinking: “You mean Jesus is a bloody warrior who aggressively attacks those who oppose Him?” My response: Yes.
Read the Bible and you’ll discover that Jesus strongly opposes those who are against Him because He longs to save all He can for something greater than what this earth has to offer. William Wallace (Jesus) offers freedom to those who are enslaved by Longshanks (Satan). Those who follow Wallace do so out of love, respect, and admiration–not out of fear. Wallace is a commoner (not a priest or a noble) who was brought up from humble beginnings (similar to Jesus). He relates to everyone (especially the poor and downtrodden) and fights for the freedom of his people. Also, similar to how Jesus died for us, Wallace is tortured and martyred for his attempts to stop Longshanks. And though it would seem that this would mark the end of the revolution started by Wallace, the opposite occurs, as the people rise up and receive their freedom as a result of Wallace’s life and sacrifice.
Disclaimer: There is some violence in the following clip:
It would seem that all Wallace stood for would have died with him as he took his final breath, but it didn’t. Similarly, when the Romans crucified Jesus, it made sense that Christianity would die with Him as well, since all who followed Jesus never would have thought He would have to die such a terrible death (the death of a criminal). But despite all probability, Christianity exploded after His crucifixion…
Coincidence? I find that extremely hard to believe (in fact, impossible if Jesus wasn’t who He said He was).
3) Princess of Wales: “The Church”
The Princess of Wales represents the church. She was of the world before she met Wallace, but upon meeting him, she is overwhelmed with feelings for him and becomes his bride (the church is the Bride of Christ). Upon his death, she is instrumental in carrying out Wallace’s wishes and vows to take over Longshank’s kingdom as he lies on his deathbed.
4) The Nobles: “The Corruption of the Church”
The Nobles represent the brokenness and hypocrisy that exists in the church. They are expected to lead their people to freedom (a greater relationship with God), but instead they look out for their own interests (power, money, and security) at the expense of those they are supposed to lead. Instead of inspiring their people to fight for what is right, they force their people to keep quiet and live a life less than what they’re called to. These “Nobles” have made a deal with Longshanks and are only using their “power” to pursue their own worldly interests.
5) Robert the Bruce: “Us”
Robert the Bruce is perhaps my favorite character in the entire movie. He represents each one of us–individual people. Robert the Bruce has been given power to lead Scotland. He’s torn, however, between the temptations of this world (which his evil father entices him with throughout the movie) and His true calling (which is brought to his attention through Wallace). Robert the Bruce fails many times and even sides with Longshanks and fights against Wallace at one point in the movie. It is after this betrayal he realizes he’s chosen the wrong path, repents, and decides to live the life he was meant to live.
This is by far my favorite scene in the entire movie. It is the one I relate to the most because I’ve experienced the exact same feelings in my life after I’ve betrayed Jesus (which I do far too often). The following quotes hit me hard and even brought me to tears…
“Lands, titles, men, power–nothing.” “I have nothing!”
This line especially resignated with me, because it made me realize that all the material possessions I have (possessions, job titles, money, etc.) all amount to nothing when it comes down to what matters. I won’t be taking any of those things with me when I die, and God calls me to pursue greater things with my life than just hording all I can for myself.
“I don’t want to lose heart!”
This line penetrated my soul the first time I considered what it meant for my life. It was when I heard this I realized I wasn’t living with all my heart the way Jesus calls me to live. Rather, I was merely existing in a comfortable, tame lifestyle that had no real impact on bringing people to Christ or helping others in any real way. I had lost heart (like all men) and realized at that moment that I similarly “don’t want to lose heart!”
“He fights for something that I’ve never had.”
It was in this line that Robert the Bruce recognizes that all his life he’s been fighting for no one but himself, and that William Wallace is fighting for something bigger, greater, and better–something that Robert the Bruce “has never had.” Robert now admits he longs for whatever that “something” is but still doesn’t quite grasp what “it” is. In the end, Robert the Bruce is seen leading the charge into the battlefield–fully inspired and overtaken by what Wallace has done for him. He now recognizes that his true purpose is not to serve himself, but to serve something greater: to sacrifice for others, to fight for what is right, and to experience true freedom.
This is how we’re supposed to live. To commit ourselves to something greater than ourselves, to sacrifice ourselves for others, to fight for what is right, and to experience true freedom.
I believe William Wallace said it best when he said, “Every man dies, not every man really lives.”
It’s time for us to stop merely existing and start living how we were meant to live–fighting for the freedom of God’s people!
Won’t you charge the battlefield with me?