Greetings! Salute! Ola! Welcome to Volume 2 of “Soundtracks are Underrated”, a column where we talk about soundtracks and why they are awesome!
This week we have one heck of a good one coming up! Get those bagpipes ready. Put on your kilts! Bring out your best Mel Gibson impersonation. It’s Braveheart time.
Full disclosure: Braveheart is my favorite movie of all time. I watched it when I was 10 or 11 years old and it just blew my mind. I was inspired by the courage of William Wallace, his rebellion against the odds, his leadership and his wielding of a sword in the name of freedom and love! It was the first time I saw the main hero of a story lose (and die) which made it even more impactful. It was my introduction to the notion of martyrdom for a cause. I thought the special effects were batshit crazy! I loved it.
As I grew older, I learned to distinguish between being the best and being a favorite. Today, Braveheart is still my favorite movie of all time, but I cannot possibly say it is the best. Definition of true love: you see something in its totality- with all its flaws – and you love it even more for it.
Anyhow… as I was saying… I love Braveheart. Did I mention that already? So much so forth that it was the very first soundtrack I got on CD! Before Braveheart, I didn’t even knew you could get soundtracks on CD. I thought the only two types of music you could get were Grunge (my brother had a lot of that) or Techno (they called it Techno in the 90s). I remember seeing Braveheart on display at the music store and thinking: “what? I can listen to the songs of a movie on their own? Crazy!”
My parents got it for me either for Christmas or my Birthday and it has been a constant in my lifetime ever since. It’s the soundtrack I listen to when I need to dust myself off; the one I listen to when I need inspiration; the one I listen to when I’m melancholic. It’s essentially my go-to soundtrack when I need something and I’m not quite sure what it might be.
I love the fact that it conveys all sorts of emotions, sometimes within the same track. Sometimes it’s joyful and hopeful – specially for the first 4 tracks – which is naturally in sync with the first act of the movie. Sometimes it’s secretive and lonely, as is the struggle that the protagonists go through. Most of the time, it’s just outright epic; growing and growing and growing, like the momentum of the Scottish rebellion.
There’s also bagpipes!
For a movie that aims to portray the identity of a country and its roots, it uses its most iconic instrument sparsely so that it achieves the right effect. When they come up, they strike a chord; they enhance the compositions rather than trying to be its sole purpose. The 7:24 track “Freedom/The Execution Bannockburn” is probably where that perfect balance is more evident (it’s also, in my opinion, the best track of the album); there’s sadness, hope and uprising in there and it all comes together through those cherished bagpipes.
I’ve read a lot about this period of Scottish history and, over the years, I’ve come to realize that the events portrayed in the movie were probably too altered and too dramatized for cinematic purposes. Right or wrong, true or false, nothing can be done about it and I don’t care. I’m just glad the music store had it on sale.
Click here to check out the previous “Soundtracks are Underrated” post.