Randall Wallace's Living the Braveheart Life
By Hannah Goodwyn
CBN.com Senior Producer
CBN.com - "Fight and you may die. Run, and you'll live... at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade all the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM!"
Atop his valiant steed, blue-faced Scottish warrior William Wallace shouts this rallying cry to his countrymen as they nervously stand before a mighty British Army in Mel Gibson's Academy Award-winning film, Braveheart.
It's a moment that has gone down in cinematic history. It's a quote that fans around the world meme. And it all started on the pages of screenwriter Randall Wallace's inspired script. Now, it's the springboard for his latest book, Living the Braveheart Life: Finding the Courage to Follow Your Heart. In it, Wallace takes a look back at how a trip to Scotland inspired one of the biggest movies of the '90s, affecting moments from his childhood, the illness that almost took his hand, and how God continues to speak into his life.
CBN.com recently spoke with Wallace about his blockbuster hit that just turned 20 years old, its stirring character, and his new memoir/master-class book. Here are excerpts from that conversation:
Hannah Goodwyn: Author and screenwriter Steven Pressfield described Living the Braveheart Life as "a prescription for what ails the contemporary soul". What's ailing us and how is your book going to fix it?
Randall Wallace: The contemporary soul suffers from fear and idolatry; and I think those two go hand in hand. We are terrified of the realities of life, like good and evil, and death. And because we're so afraid of dying, we don't live. Living the Braveheart life is about facing the realities of life, and finding the love and the faith that makes us have life and have it more abundantly.
HG: Your book declares that "fear is a liar", that the greatest lie is "I am not" ('I'm not pretty enough, strong enough, smart enough, etc.), and how that thinking is in complete opposition to God (who literally is 'I AM'). When did that revelation come to you?
RW: Well, it comes to me regularly because I need it all the time. I remember the hymn we used to sing at church, "I Need Thee Every Hour". So it's not like I have killed the dragon and the dragon has no brothers. There's always a voice, and that's the voice of the enemy, there's always the voice that says, 'You are wrong, you are unloved and unlovable, and everything you've done has been lost.' Once we turn and we face that voice, we face the dragon that's breathing that voice and we kill it, it's always got a brother. So Jesus did it once for all, so we have to remember the truth with that every day.
HG: In the book, you say you started to understand Jesus in a new way through discovering the character of William Wallace. How's that?
RW: People have said to me, you must have done a great deal of research to write the story of Braveheart and the story of William Wallace. I tell them, yes, I read the New Testament, because there is no literal history of William Wallace. The story of Braveheart is my version, my telling of the tale, and William Wallace was an undoubtedly courageous and heroic figure, but the things that he said and did are unrecorded by history.
Even Winston Churchill says in a book, in his serious book called History of the English Speaking People that almost nothing is known about William Wallace, and yet his legends about him have inspired the Scottish people for centuries. I had nothing new on what everyone else had in terms of history. What I had was a perspective of what a life that transforms is, and that comes from Jesus.
HG: Living the Braveheart Life points out that every warrior has a sword, but also a wound. How can strength be found in pain and brokenness?
RW: It's so striking to me that, and this gets back to what is ailing the modern soul or the soul of modern people, the heroes that Hollywood holds up and that the audience clearly is attracted to in some level are these people who don't feel pain. The whole process of writing these stories of Superman, Spiderman, and Batman is to try to humanize them in some ways. They're saying that here's a man that bullets will bounce off his chest, or he can fly, or he can swing from one building to the next, and slam into a building and be none the worse for wear is to deny this vulnerability that we all feel, and I'm saying the opposite.
If we don't know where hurts occur and how hurts occur in our own vulnerability, our own limit, then we can never be an effective warrior. If you were fighting, you would need to know where you could strike your opponent to stop it. You would also need to know that if you keep doing the wrong thing, that you will expend all of your resources and you will be weak and helpless. Your wounds inform you; and they deepen your understanding. They deepen your perception of life.
HG: Tell us about going through the experience of almost losing your hand, just the depth of what was happening to you since writing, using your hands, is your sword, your calling, your passion.
RW: My weapon has been my determination and my resilience, that when I started down the path to be a writer and a storyteller, I'd never imagined being a director in Hollywood, but I wanted to be a storyteller, whatever a form that took. And I told myself, and I promised God, there would be two things that would not hold me back: one was a fear of failure, and the other was a lack of effort. So I had this -- that was my approach to life is just be persevering and determined.
And suddenly when I was in the hospital with them carving away at my fingers every other day, and tubes and wires, and infection going through my body and antibiotics fighting it, and morphine, and I was helpless. My tools were not applicable to the situation, and I was truly in the arms of God.
HG: You say a man who does not honor women can never live a Braveheart life. Some men have the idea that the opposite is true, that they need to have possessive control over women to be a real man, a warrior type of guy. How would you respond to that?
RW: The way men and women relate to each other...There's clearly a divine way, a way that is the healthiest. God clearly intended a relationship between men and women that was healthy and wonderful, and divine.
The only proper way to find the right relationship between a man and a woman is through love. What Jesus always taught was always look for the love in the moment. That's why I believe that any man who disrespects a woman is disrespecting himself in the same way. There is no honor in refusing to recognize the sacredness of a woman.
HG: You also quote a friend who called Braveheart the most macho chick-flick ever made. I think it's what William Wallace was willing to do for his family that we all respond to -- no matter our cultural background, gender, etc. Would you agree?
RW: Yes, absolutely yes. Braveheart had a profound effect on women. It does have a profound effect. What motivated him throughout his life was a longing to connect with a woman in the right way. When the Scottish rebels ask him, 'Are you going to join in this fight? Your father was a warrior.' He says, 'I know who my father is, but if I can stay out of the troubles, I will.' And he says later in the story, 'I want a family, a life and a family, and God willing, I would have that. But he has brought me this sword.' And my sense was always that what he was fighting for was the health and the peace of his family. He wasn't fighting for war; he was fighting for love.
Hannah Goodwyn serves as the Family and Entertainment producer for CBN.com. For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.
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