Revisiting Memories. Re-Watching Gladiator and Braveheart.

Mel Gibson playing William Wallace in Bravehea...
Image via Wikipedia

So, my girlfriend lives next to a cinematheque, and watches a lot of films. She does however have some gaps with some more mainstream films, and recently I’ve been trying to close some of those gaps. We’ve watched Gladiator a couple of months back, and Braveheart last weekend. This was also a chance for me to re-watch Braveheart after not watching it for around 7-10 years. Gladiator had been re-watched since the time I’d first watched it, but I also own the DVD.

This is a chance to revisit our memories, when we re-watch an older film, or re-read a favourite book. This is not something we can do with people or occasions, because those interactions have passed, and the memory does change the event, and even changes as time goes on.

Movies, books, and other static media experiences, however, do not change, and remain the same as when we had first watched them. Except that they do not.
The sequence of events is the same, in the film, in the book. But there is no story in a book, there is no story in a film. The story, the relations, the live people, the motives, the emotions; the place where they really live and breathe is within our minds, within our hearts. And as the saying goes, you can’t enter the same river twice (disregarding those who said you have no “unity” so cannot enter it even once ;)) as such, you don’t really read “the same book”. You have different experiences.

“What you bring into a book is what you get out of it,” is a sentence I agree with whole-heartedly. But then again, the Matrix bullet-time was unique and innovative when they’ve brought it. Now it’s everywhere, and unless you know it originated with them you might just sigh at seeing it (though theirs is still better than most other films’, IMO). So things don’t always age well, because that they were the origin doesn’t always matter what others one-up them; or that what they did and was a breath of fresh air is later rehashed so much you can’t sit for one more minute of it (Moe, vampires, zany comedy, fart jokes…).

So I watched Braveheart again, and I’ve watched Gladiator again, and I think Gladiator is the movie Braveheart would’ve wanted to be. I think my age may have played into it, I think watching Gladiator may have played into it, but I think having watched Braveheart before was the biggest part into why I wasn’t as moved by Braveheart this time around.
When I pick up a book series or a movie/series that I had watched before, after spending some 10-15 minutes with it I begin to recall most of what had occured before, and not having to spend as much time thinking about what will occur, I can spend more time focusing on the minutiae (which is a lot more relevant for “moving pictures” than books). I get to notice how the music is corny, overdone and slightly ham-fisted, as if the director is not sure we’ll get that this should be an uplifting/sad scene, the facial expressions and acting are often hackneyed, and well, the female characters are there only for males to have sex with them (especially Mel Gibson‘s character ;)).

Gladiator, well, it may not be better, but I think it’s a lot tighter. The acting is tighter, the music is actually grand rather than lost… Braveheart is a good film, but it did not live up to my memories of it, and it did not live up to Gladiator’s success, though it’s still better than a lot of those post-Gladiator “War-epoch” film dreck that’d beeen released (such as “Troy“, and even worse things). It still has a sense of scale, it still has emotional impact, and the acting on the whole is slightly above average.
It’s just that it did not live up. Not to my expectations which are without basis, but to my memories, which are supposed to be based on the real article, but are more based on the magical alchemy of article and who I was at the time, and how I felt when watching it for the very first time.

It’s important to try and not… lose your memories, or resent them, for not living up to your expectations. So I don’t think Braveheart is a great movie now, so what? I still have my fond memories of this moving film from the days of my youth :)

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5 comments on “Revisiting Memories. Re-Watching Gladiator and Braveheart.

  1. lovelyduckie says:

    I’ve actually never seen either one of these movies in its entirety. I’ve just seen small bits of each.

  2. phossil says:

    Between Gladiator and Braveheart I like Braveheart most.

  3. Reltair says:

    I liked both Gladiator and Braveheart. I saw Braveheart way back when I was younger and remembered it as being “good”. It probably won’t live up to my expectations if I watch it again since my memory tends to over-hype things from the past, plus I’ve seen tons more movies.

    • Guy says:

      @phossil, that’s fair enough :)

      @Reltair, I don’t think Braveheart is a bad film. It IS a good film. We just took an already good film and made it slightly better as time went by, and yes, new movies outstripped it. It’s a good film. I was just drawn to the things that didn’t live up to my memories, so maybe in this watching I was a bit over-focused on the negative, though some emotions were wrung from me.

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