The Instigator
Adam2
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Oromagi
Con (against)
Winning
11 Points

New and improved debate -- "Braveheart" was mostly true

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Oromagi
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/24/2013 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,281 times Debate No: 39422
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)

 

Adam2

Pro

I have improved it, and promise to stay in tune with the movie. I'll give to Oromagi, I admit my argument was weak, and was basing it on my own feelings instead of the movie. This time I will say how the movie was true for the most part. Let the best debator win. Good luck to con.
Oromagi

Con

I'll accept that debate although I think Pro's stance was soundly refuted in our last debate:

http://www.debate.org...

I am still interested to know the standard by which Pro asserts that Braveheart is "mostly true." After all, the movie is particularly noted for its lack of accuracy and those inaccuracies have been the subject of a number of critical treatments. Even the movie's screenwriter and director admit that they weren't trying to be historically inaccurate. So Pro's assertion that Braveheart is mostly true flies in the face of conventional critique.

In the absence of any standard to refute in the last debate, I offered 7 particularly egregious re-writes of history which Pro either conceded or ignored. We can return to these complaints or we can move on to some rational test by which Pro can argue that the movie's veracity. (I doubt there is a useful test.)

Let's begin with my concluding statement in the last debate.

Braveheart is a great heroic fantasy, but Braveheart is not history. A student wishing to learn about 13th Century Scotland would learn almost no useful facts from Braveheart. A student watching Braveheart would come away with all kinds of falsehoods about Wallace and class and warfare and Scottish nationalism and English treachery. I would argue that this kind of fantasy, clothed as it is with real names and places and events, but without respect for the truth about those places and people, is worse than just making it up.
Debate Round No. 1
Adam2

Pro

Let's start with certain scenes. I'm not here to argue that all of it goes by the movie in reality, but much of it does. For instance the scene where Longshanks discusses his plan to invade Scotland and says that he'll make the kings too greedy to oppose his offer of lands and titles is most definitely true. It was a time of greed and conquest. The opening scene with the murder of the sheriff (http://en.wikipedia.org...) did indeed happen. Now I will say the chances of this happening because his woman was murdered are pretty slim, but that sheriff being assassinated did indeed happen. Now the prima nocte definitely did not happen. It was something thrown in the movie to make the English seem really evil compared to the Scottish.
Oromagi

Con

Nope, we've done that already. Simply arguing that some aspects of Braveheart were true or close to true is no the same thing as saying Braveheart was mostly true. We have to have some kind of standard by which to compare the relative historic veracity of films and than see how Braveheart compares.

Here's one proposal, although I really think the standard should be Pro's to propose and defend.

A.
Movies that depict historical people and events with close attention to historic detail. Actors, props, set design, etc are based on careful research of primary sources.

ex.
United 93
The Laramie Project
Zulu

B.
Movies that depict historical people or events accurately, but with significant artistic or dramatic license.

ex.
The King's Speech
The Right Stuff
Lincoln

C.
Movies that attempt to accurately capture the nature of an historic event through the use of fictional biographies.

ex.
Saving Private Ryan
Zero Dark 30
Titanic

D.
Movies that employ historic detail, but are clearly not trying to depict events accurately.

ex.
Dick
Shakespeare in Love
Marie Antionette

F.
Movies that pretend to be historic, but knowingly re-write known biographies for popular, personal, or political effect.

ex.
300
Braveheart
JFK
Debate Round No. 2
Adam2

Pro

OK, I get what you're saying. However "Braveheart" is a little more realistic than we give it credit. As I've said before, in the movie, Battle of Stirling (and they even acknowledge that there was indeed a bridge) happens almost exactly as it did in history. http://en.wikipedia.org.... "The Earl of Surrey had won a victory over the aristocracy of Scotland at the Battle of Dunbar and his belief that he was now dealing with a rabble proved that he had greatly underestimated the Scottish forces. The small bridge at Stirling was only broad enough to allow two horsemen to cross abreast. The Scots deployed in a commanding position dominating the soft, flat ground to the north of the river. Sir Richard Lundie, a Scots knight who joined the English after the capitulation at Irvine, offered to outflank the enemy by leading a cavalry force over a nearby ford, where sixty horsemen could cross at the same time. Hugh Cressingham, King Edward's treasurer in Scotland, was anxious to avoid any unnecessary expense in prolonging the war and he persuaded the Earl to reject this advice and order a direct attack across the bridge.
The Scots waited as the English knights and infantry made their slow progress across the bridge on the morning of 11 September. The disorderly Scottish army of 1296 was gone: Wallace and Moray's hold over their men was tight. They had held back earlier in the day when many of the English and Welsh archers had crossed, only to be recalled because Surrey had overslept. The two commanders now waited, according to the Chronicle of Hemingburgh, until "as many of the enemy had come over as they believed they could overcome." When the vanguard, comprising 5,400 English and Welsh infantry plus several hundred cavalry, had crossed the Bridge, the attack was ordered. The Scots spearmen came down from the high ground in rapid advance towards Stirling Bridge, quickly seizing control of the English bridgehead. In the narrow space of the bridge, the massed English cavalry were incredibly vulnerable to the line of Scots spearmen holding the end of the bridge Surrey's vanguard was now cut off from the rest of the army. The heavy cavalry to the north of the river was trapped and cut to pieces (due, in part, to the strewing of caltrops[citation needed] to unseat the cavalry making them easy targets for the Scottish forces), their comrades to the south powerless to help Hugh de Cressingham, whose body was subsequently flayed and the skin cut into small pieces as tokens of the victory. The Lanercost Chronicle records that Wallace had[3] "a broad strip [of Cressingham"s skin] ... taken from the head to the heel, to make therewith a baldrick for his sword". Losses among the infantry, many of them Welsh, were also high. Those who could throw off their armour swam across the river." This sounds exactly like what happened in the film. The English were indeed weak compared to the Scots. The movie got that right. "The Battle of Stirling Bridge was a shattering defeat for the English: IT SHOWED THAT UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES INFANTRY COULD BE SUPERIOR TO CALVARY." There you have it, bro. Basically that's how it played out in the movie too.
Oromagi

Con

OK, I get what you're saying.

I don't think so. If you did get what I'm saying you'd offer some kind of standard for historical accuracy by which Braveheart could be shown to be more accurate.

As I've said before, in the movie, Battle of Stirling (and they even acknowledge that there was indeed a bridge) happens almost exactly as it did in history.

Who is they? Are they associated with the movie? If so, in what way did they represent Stirling Bridge in the movie?

The small bridge at Stirling was only broad enough to allow two horsemen to cross abreast.

No bridge in the movie, so this is a major divergence from the geographic facts of the battle.

Hugh Cressingham... persuaded the Earl to reject this advice and order a direct attack across the bridge.

No bridge

Wallace and Moray's hold over their men was tight.

Moray's role at the battle of Stirling Bridge was essential... why isn't he depicted in the movie?

They had held back earlier in the day...

Not depicted

The two commanders now waited.... until "as many of the enemy had come over as they believed they could overcome."

The movie shows them defending against an English charge, not charging the English as actually happened. Isn't it essential to depict who was on offense and who on defense? The movie shows the English foolishly withholding the infantry and sending the calvary into a static Scottish line. As you have cut & paste, history tells us that the English force north of the river was almost entirely infantry.

In the narrow space of the bridge, the massed English cavalry were incredibly vulnerable to the line of Scots spearmen holding the end of the bridge Surrey's vanguard was now cut off from the rest of the army.

Dramatic stuff. Why then did Bravehart choose to go with the old movie cliché of two massed lines clashing?

due, in part, to the strewing of caltrops

No caltrops in the movie, although that might have been cool to see. Caltrops were little twisted nail tetrahedrons that pierced the hooves of horses. Here's a picture:




their comrades to the south powerless to help Hugh de Cressingham, whose body was subsequently flayed and the skin cut into small pieces as tokens of the victory.

This would have been interesting to see in the movie, although it might burst the illusion that the Scots were the good guys.

Losses among the infantry, many of them Welsh, were also high.

Braveheart depicts the Welsh as friendly to Wallace, which is belied by the factual account.

Those who could throw off their armour swam across the river." This sounds exactly like what happened in the film.

Since there is no river in the movie nobody is depicted as swimming. Why would you say that's exactly like the film?

The English were indeed weak compared to the Scots. The movie got that right.

More foolish than weak, but okay.

"The Battle of Stirling Bridge was a shattering defeat for the English: IT SHOWED THAT UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES INFANTRY COULD BE SUPERIOR TO CALVARY."

Well, any worthwhile knight of Wallace's time would have already known this to be true. If infantry were never superior to calvary, why bring them?

Basically that's how it played out in the movie too.

Not even close. For voters' sake, re-read Pro's cut & paste from Wikipedia than watch this clip from the movie. Is there any resemblance?



Let's also remember that knights and horses on both sides would have been heavily armoured. Wallace wore armour from head to toe and was mounted. The movie shows him running around in a kilt with Roman era Pictish warpaint. Braveheart shows Wallace giving a rousing speech just before battle about fighting tyranny as free men. He addresses the men as 'my countrymen" and "sons of Scotland." "They may take our lives but they will never take our freedom."

Now imagine the spirit of one those poor unfortunate lowland farmers or monks that were actually forced (under threat of hanging) to fight at the Battle of Stirling Bridge for a foreign French lord for whose squabbles he cared little. While Wallace watched the battle from a hill to the north, these commoners fought and achieved victory for him. Few of the ordinary fallen would have been commemorated or their families compensated. Imagine if that peasant could see this movie and see how Wallace is depicted. How deeply ironic and offensive Wallace's freedom speech would seem to the actual combatants; roughly the equivalent of depicting Robert E. Lee preaching freedom to his slaves. In Braveheart, history has been replaced by heroic fantasy, and per usual, the ordinary soldier gets the shaft.




Debate Round No. 3
Adam2

Pro

"Moray's role at the battle of Stirling Bridge was essential... why isn't he depicted in the movie?
I think you mean Mornay and later in the scene, he and the rest of the nobles on horseback are indeed shown. Watch later into the scene. The oncoming Scottish horsemen cause Talmadge to cry, "Retreat!"
"The movie shows them defending against an English charge, not charging the English as actually happened. Isn't it essential to depict who was on offense and who on defense? The movie shows the English foolishly withholding the infantry and sending the calvary into a static Scottish line. As you have cut & paste, history tells us that the English force north of the river was almost entirely infantry."
This point of view is subjective. Obviously when you're oppressed by another country, you're gonna try to fight off your oppressors. Of course in the Anglo-Saxon point of view, the Scottish warriors were savages. But that's not how Scots see it. Depends on who you talk too really.
"Dramatic stuff. Why then did Bravehart choose to go with the old movie clich" of two massed lines clashing?" I honestly don't know how to respond to that, except I never said "Braveheart" was a 100% true, but mostly true, so maybe they did cut that out.
"Braveheart depicts the Welsh as friendly to Wallace, which is belied by the factual account."
Actually, the film is ambiguous on that. The only people who they show to be allies is the Irish. Nothing is said about the Welsh, and even the French are not shown to take sides in this war. They've got their own problems to deal with when it comes to England. Isabella wasn't even born when Wallace was alive, that I agree is the one wrong aspect of the film. It is never stated that Wales is friendly to Scotland. As a matter of fact, the Welsh are shown as joining Longshank's army. "Welsh bowmen as they call it"
"Well, any worthwhile knight of Wallace's time would have already known this to be true. If infantry were never superior to calvary, why bring them?" It seems not so much that the English were inferior, but they made a bad choice of going up against a bigger enemy, however, much like a game says the results, this says it too, they behaved as though they were an inferior army towards the Scottish army, and the movie shows this very well.

"Now imagine the spirit of one those poor unfortunate lowland farmers or monks that were actually forced (under threat of hanging) to fight at the Battle of Stirling Bridge for a foreign French lord for whose squabbles he cared little. While Wallace watched the battle from a hill to the north, these commoners fought and achieved victory for him. Few of the ordinary fallen would have been commemorated or their families compensated. Imagine if that peasant could see this movie and see how Wallace is depicted. How deeply ironic and offensive Wallace's freedom speech would seem to the actual combatants; roughly the equivalent of depicting Robert E. Lee preaching freedom to his slaves. In Braveheart, history has been replaced by heroic fantasy, and per usual, the ordinary soldier gets the shaft." Now this one is matter of opinion. Robert E Lee was actually more of English/Anglo-Saxon ancestry and he was very proud. The English would see him as a hero, not the Scottish, but against that's my opinion. Though I don't think he was a true Confederate for certain reasons, reasons which I'll get into later.
Oromagi

Con

Nine rounds in two debates later, Pro has yet to acknowledge my central point. "Mostly true" is a relative term. Since "Braveheart" is generally recognized as a relatively inaccurate film, and since most of my central complaints regarding the film have not been disputed, what is the core of Pro's argument? Pro continues to offer one or two cases to show the movie is not entirely fictional, but that can be done with almost any movie. Some movies do history better than others, and "Braveheart" does history worse than most. Pro must offer some standard to justify "mostly true." Mostly true compared to most historic movies? We have seen that Braveheart is not that. Mostly true regarding the biography of William Wallace? No, in this regard, "Braveheart" is shockingly cavalier with the known facts. With one round left for argument, I have little notion of Pro's thesis or how he intends to justify a statement which flies in the face of conventional wisdom. A short list of the limited overlaps between "Braveheart" and the truth is not going to cut it.

I think you mean Mornay and later in the scene, he and the rest of the nobles on horseback are indeed shown. Watch later into the scene. The oncoming Scottish horsemen cause Talmadge to cry, "Retreat!"

This is the second example demonstrating that Pro does not read his own cut & pastes from Wikipedia. If Pro had read his own argument in Round 3, he would discover that the historical figure's name is Andrew de Moray. Moray was a more prominent figure in the Scottish uprising than Wallace before Stirling and was Senior co-commander at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Unlike Wallace, Moray actually fought in the Battle of Stirling Bridge and died of injuries sustained at that battle. In fact, he is the only Scottish casualty at Stirling that history knows by name. Mornay is not a Scottish name and there is no figure by that name fighting during the Scottish War for Independence. Mornay is a fiction of "Braveheart." I don't believe that Mornay is intended to be Moray since the real figure has no elements in common with the fictional character. However, if the movie does intend for Mornay to be a representation of Moray, than the movie has made a traitor out of one of Scotland's heroes for a second time (they also did so with the real Braveheart, Robert the Bruce).

This point of view is subjective. Obviously when you're oppressed by another country, you're gonna try to fight off your oppressors. Of course in the Anglo-Saxon point of view, the Scottish warriors were savages. But that's not how Scots see it. Depends on who you talk too really.

Pro misses the point again. Historians agree that the Battle of Stirling entailed an organized Scottish infantry advancing on an English infantry that had yet to assemble in combat order. The movie has the English charging the Scottish line, I suppose because this seems more valiant than the historical ambush. Braveheart renames the Battle of Stirling Bridge, removes the bridge, removes the river, removes the Scottish commander who lead the assault and died for his efforts, changes the order of battle, adds an English calvary charge, adds speeches from Wallace about "fighting for freedom," takes away the Scottish spears and gives them swords and axes, takes away the Scottish armor and puts them in silly kilts, and doesn't show the Scottish scalping and taking of trophies in the aftermath. Pro would argue, "but the Scottish did indeed win the battle, so Braveheart is mostly true." Baloney. The movie made little to no effort to depict history, Braveheart only offers Hollywood cliché. The battle looks much more like many other movie battles we've seen: "Last of the Mohicans" or "The Patriot" or "Lord of the Rings."

I honestly don't know how to respond to that, except I never said "Braveheart" was a 100% true, but mostly true, so maybe they did cut that out.

That and many, many other important details. I would say that Braveheart was about 5% true, making it a profoundly ahistorical movie. Since you wouldn't say "Braveheart" was 100% true what percentage do you feel is true enough to call it "mostly true?'

Isabella wasn't even born when Wallace was alive, that I agree is the one wrong aspect of the film.

So then you must also agree that the movie is false when it shows Isabella warning Wallace, Isabella bearing Wallace's child as Edward III, etc. Some pretty grotesque inaccuracies, wouldn't you say?

they behaved as though they were an inferior army towards the Scottish army, and the movie shows this very well.

I'll agree with that. Are you saying that's all it takes to make a movie historically accurate? So long as the attitude of one army toward another is accurately depicted, it doesn't matter who did what where?

Now this one is matter of opinion. Robert E Lee was actually more of English/Anglo-Saxon ancestry and he was very proud. The English would see him as a hero, not the Scottish, but against that's my opinion. Though I don't think he was a true Confederate for certain reasons, reasons which I'll get into later.

Another clean miss of the point. I only mentioned Lee as a famous slaveholder who was also a commander. I might have used Washington or Ramses II or Julius Caesar. Wallace's infantry was composed of serfs, indentured servants. Although they were not property and so were not slaves, they were slaves in the sense that they had no control over their own destiny. They could fight the English or be hanged by Wallace. Wallace was no more likely to give a rousing speech about freedom to these men than Washington might to a group of plantation slaves, or Ramses to the Israelites. To depict Wallace giving that speech is ahistorical and demeaning to the memory of the men he forced to fight. For the purposes of this metaphor, Lee's heritage or allegiance are simply irrelevant.
Debate Round No. 4
Adam2

Pro

I am not trying to make a historical reference here. lol
What I'm saying is the movie is mostly correct in that the battles and the plots Longshanks made did indeed happen, which compose of at least 70% of the movie. Obviously Wallace was not the true hero people make him out to be. Also, "Braveheart" was correctly named too. The reference was originally to Robert the Bruce, but he was not completely portrayed as a traitor either. He fought for Scotland's freedom. Maybe "Braveheart" isn't the most accurate film, mind you, but compared to "Birth of a Nation," it's way more accurate. Difference between "Braveheart" and "Birth of a Nation," was that "Braveheart" had real events, even if it was over-dramatized to make Wallace look like a hero, but England really did do most of the things shown in the movie. "Birth of a Nation" was done to slander an entire race. The ending, the execution, did indeed happen. A group of Scottish nobles did handover Wallace to the English. Plus historians can be a%$-wrong too. Historians once said that blacks never built anything or any civilization. Were historians right on that? I think not.
Oromagi

Con

I am not trying to make a historical reference here. lol

That's too bad, because a debater who wished to successfully argue that "Braveheart" was mostly true would clearly need to make a historical reference or two.

Obviously Wallace was not the true hero people make him out to be. The [Braveheart] reference was originally to Robert the Bruce, but he was not completely portrayed as a traitor either.

So we are in agreement that the primary theme of the movie and the movie's title are pure hokum.

He fought for Scotland's freedom.

False, full stop. The notion of Freedom expressed as a human right or a national right, especially for the Scots, those native serfs enslaved on Wallace's landholdings, would have been repugnant to a Norman lord like Wallace. Wallace fought for the kingship of his liege lord, John of Baliol, in preference to Edward I.

Maybe "Braveheart" isn't the most accurate film, mind you, but compared to "Birth of a Nation," it's way more accurate.

A standard at last. So, by Pro's measure, any film that is more accurate that that most famous piece of Klan propaganda, "Birth of a Nation" should be considered "mostly true": an absurdly low standard for historical accuracy.

England really did do most of the things shown in the movie.

Nope. Pro has already admitted that primae noctis was a myth. England did not send ambassadors to Wallace or try to bribe him into peace or have sex with Wallace. England did not charge the Scots at Stirling Bridge, they were ambushed. England did not fire on their own infantry at Falkirk. Edward did not throw anybody out of a window. Edward did not die in bed, he died on campaign. The only aspect of English conduct in the movie that approximates the truth is that they put Wallace to death for treason. In almost every other respect, the movie's depiction of the English is wildly inaccurate and demonstrably anglophobic.

If Braveheart's standard of historical accuracy were applied to Gettysburg, the movie would be named "Stonewall," with Mel Gibson starring as Robert E. Lee in the eponymous role. Thomas Jackson, on the other hand, would be depicted as a squirrely traitor. Lee would be shown to have been born a peace-loving Iroquois who is forced to fight the Union after George Armstrong Custer raped and killed his wife. Before the battle, Lee would exhort his slaves to fight for emancipation. Lincoln would be shown throwing his son Todd's gay boyfriend from the balcony of the White House. Honest Abe would send a young Isadora Duncan to bribe Lee, but Lee would instead seduce Duncan, who would later give birth to Teddy Roosevelt.
Lee would be shown leading his men up Little Round Top, bayoneting and karate chopping Union forces until he finally comes face to face with Joshua Chamberlain, who he kills with a perfectly executed throw of his trusty tomahawk. Meade would villainously order his artillery to fire on the Union infantry. Just as Lee was on the brink of victory he would be betrayed by J.E.B Stuart. While the Confederates are picked apart, Lee would race across the Cemetery Hill to catch Stuart and slash his throat in vengeance. Naturally, both sides would battle wearing snazzy modern business suits. This is a pretty approximate rendering of the level of distortion found in "Braveheart."

By Pro's standard, a movie like "Stonewall" is mostly true. The Blue and the Grey did indeed meet at Gettysburg and the Union was indeed victorious. So what if a few biographical details were over-dramatized to make Lee look good, the movie is accurate.

At least, with "Birth of a Nation," Griffiths used fictional names only loosely based on historical characters. Nobody could discover that Silas Lynch was a real person and so assume that Griffiths was presenting historic facts. "Braveheart" uses real names and places, so some people are duped into thinking that Braveheart contains at least some historic details. Alas, that Pro is one of these people and that after 10 rounds of discussion he continues to look to Braveheart for history. Braveheart is Hollywood. Braveheart is fun, heroic fantasy. But Braveheart is not history.

VOTE CON!

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Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Adam2 3 years ago
Adam2
Orogami, you know something, don't take this as me agreeing with you at all, but your last argument had me cracking up, about Abe Lincoln, sending women to bribe Lee. I don't agree, but I still find it funny. May the best win.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
Adam2OromagiTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: 'True in spirit' might be a better way to try to argue this, great movie either way, plus a decent source for historical insights. ARGUMENT: Con's case was a lot better, and did not counter itself... I facepalmed when the bridge scene came up, much like con I wondered what bridge scene was being talked about. Pro talking about a bridge not present in the movie, directly undermined his case. SOURCES: Very nearly left this tied, even with con flipping the bridge source (a flipped source to me counts twice in favor of whomever took it), however sources to me are evidence, and the pictures + videos edge this slightly over the line to be superiror enough to claim it.
Vote Placed by TrueScotsman 3 years ago
TrueScotsman
Adam2OromagiTied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD - At several times in this debate, we encountered the dreaded wall of text, particularly from Adam2. I suggest you both take more measures to allow your arguments to be a bit more organized and thus more enjoyable to read. :) Sources and Argument go to Con, as he was able to successfully demonstrate how Pro's points actually refuted his own contention.