Home > 100 Greatest Scores, Reviews > BRAVEHEART – James Horner

BRAVEHEART – James Horner

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

During a visit to Scotland screenwriter Randall Wallace was inspired by the lore of the Scottish patriot William Wallace. He conceived and wrote a screenplay for a grand historical epic, which would bring this heroic figure to the big screen. MGM producer Alan Ladd Jr. realized he had a winner and purchased the script, which he shared with Mel Gibson. Gibson initially passed on the project, but eventually relented, agreeing to direct, however he declined to star as he felt he was too old at age 40 to play the part of Wallace, who was in his late twenties. Financing constraints led to a reversal as Paramount Studios would only agree to finance the film if he starred in it. Gibson agreed to take on the titular role and brought in a fine cast to support, which included Sophie Marceau as Princess Isabelle, Angus MacFadyen as Robert the Bruce, Patrick McGoohan as King Edward I, Catherine McCormack as Murron, Brendan Gleeson as Hamish, Peter Hanly as Prince Edward, and Ian Bannen as Robert the Elder. Gibson’s final script took significant license with historical accuracy, so as to make the story more intimate, dramatic and grand. The film is set in Scotland the year 1280, when the country is occupied by the forces of English King Edward I, and it tells the story of the rise and fall of the legendary Scottish patriot and freedom fighter.

English brutality sets events into motion when they try to rape William’s young wife Murron, and then publicly execute her for resisting. William is enraged and leads a rebellion, which overthrows the local English garrison. King Edward I task his son Prince Edward to suppress the rebellion and bring Wallace to justice. Yet Wallace gathers the clans and scores a stunning victory over the Prince at the battle of Stirling Bridge, which he follows up with the sack of York and beheading of the King’s nephew. King Edward is stunned and plots revenge, sending Princess Isabelle as a peace emissary to distract Wallace while he regroups and plans for invasion. Fate has it that Isabelle and Wallace fall in love and she aids him in his efforts. A great battle ensues at Falkirk where Wallace suffers a defeat due to the treachery of Scottish nobles who betray him, bought off by King Edward. He is tried for treason and viciously executed by disembowelment and decapitation, but not before he uttered words which echoed through time: freedom! Braveheart was a huge commercial success, earning $210 million or three times its production cost of $65 million. The film secured critical acclaim, receiving ten Academy Award nominations, winning five for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Make-up, and Best Sound Effects Editing.

Gibson had greatly enjoyed his collaboration with James Horner for his first feature film The Man Without a Face, and so he was the natural choice to score the film. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter Horner relates the challenges he faced in composing the score:

“Mel Gibson had an idea of what he wanted but not how to get there. We both wanted medieval music, but real medieval music is impossible to listen to for more than 10 minutes. So how do we do it? My job was to artistically do a 12th-century score, but one that was accessible to mainstream audiences. We decided to make certain things as primitive as we could. The film had to have scope and scale, so I mixed primitive South American (quena) flutes with Celtic instruments that are out of time with modern instruments. “I used Uilleann Pipes, which are small bagpipes, and then sampled sounds digitally, using the synthesizer as a tool to get the right mix.”

Horner understood that this film offered a very personal journey of a Scottish patriot and that his music would need to speak to the intersection of powerful emotions including; love, devastation, heroism, betrayal and martyrdom. For his soundscape he chose classical leitmotifs, which drew inspiration from traditional Celtic folk songs. Among his primary themes we have; William’s Theme, which serves as his identity and is carried by Uilleann pipes. Horner manages to impart folksy, nativist auras to the theme, which exudes strength, nobility and a quiet confidence. The War Theme is simple in construct, born by repeating dire horn declarations, which portend war. Malcolm’s Theme speaks of William’s love for his father, but also his legacy. It is carried warmly with a reserved nobility by strings tenero and woodwinds. The Requiem Theme is an elegy, full of mourning, which supports William’s grief for the death of his father. Yet with Malcolm’s death, William eventually assumes the mantle of leadership of the family and the elegy becomes emblematic of two struggles, one personal and the other transpersonal. On the personal level the theme speaks to William’s psychic wound incurred from the death of his father and brother by the English. Transpersonally is supports the suffering of the Scottish people from English tyranny. There are two love themes in the score, with the first emoting from Murron’s perspective and the second from William’s. Murron’s Theme serves as her identity and offers the first Love Theme, which speaks to William’s courtship and her love for him. Horner interpolates the folk song “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” and the melodic line is carried by solo tremulous flute, Uilleann pipes, and strings gentile with harp adornment. The second Love Theme emotes from William’s perspective and supports the two women he loves; his first love Murron, and his later love for Isabelle. Born by impassioned strings romantico its articulation is much more ardent. Lastly, for authenticity Horner infused his soundscape with some traditional Celtic source songs and rhythms to provide the right cultural auras.

“Logo/Main Title” offers a finely crafted cue where Horner masterfully sets the tone of the film. We open with ethereal women’s choir and foreboding electronica as the Paramount logo displays, and then transition atop harp adornment to the display of the Icon Films logo. As we descend through clouds the Braveheart title displays and as we soar atop aerial views of the Scottish Highlands, plaintive violins carry their bloodied history. At 1:02 narration commences by Robert the Bruce, who tells of King Edward’s summon of Scottish nobles for a peace parley, which is supported by William’s Theme on Uilleann pipes and strings tenero. At 1:48 portentous horns minacciose declare the War Theme, which will one day unleash William’s quest. Strings affanato join in an allusion to his fate, yet give way at 2:39 to Malcolm’s Theme on warm and comforting French horns, which affirm the love between father and son. “Hanging of the Peacemakers” reveals Malcolm and young William making the horrific discovery of King Edward’s treachery – the corpses of Scottish nobles left hanging in a barn. Horner supports the grim discovery texturally with dire drum beats, chimes mysterioso and shifting dissonant string sustains.

In “William’s Father Leaves to Fight” Malcolm departs for war with William’s older brother to avenge King Edward’s treachery. His theme has lost its warm and is instead emoted achingly by tremolo strings as father and son part. Horner alludes to his fate with the Requiem Theme, which is carried by strings doloroso and an ominous counter bass line. “A Father’s Final Return” offers a poignant score highlight as William receives his father’s corpse. The death of Malcolm is fateful, and will serve as a catalyst, which rouses a growing quest for freedom in William. Horner supports the pathos with an elegy, born of a full rendering of the Requiem Theme, so full of heart ache. William is grief stricken as he gently, and reverently touches his father’s wounds. During the ceremony we observe that Murron, his future bride, is also watching and grieving for his loss. “A Gift of a Thistle” offers a score highlight where Horner graces us with Murron’s Theme. Murron offers him a thistle bloom as a token of her affection, yet also as a gift to assuage his grief. We see in his eyes that he is moved and that affection is kindled in his heart. Her theme is tender and carried softly by tremulous flute, Uilleann pipes, and strings gentile with harp adornment. “Outlawed Tunes on Outlawed Pipes” reveals William dreaming of his father whom he dearly misses. In a scene change we see a night time ceremony commemorating his life. A wistful rendering of the Requiem Theme replete with bagpipes supports the grief of both scenes.

“Royal Wedding/Domino Fidelium” supports multiple scenes. Uncle Argyle departs with William, whom he will raise as his own. His departure begins his journey towards his destiny and Horner supports the moment eloquently with sumptuous strings carrying the B Phrase of the love of a princess Love Theme. At 0:27 we shift to the royal court for the wedding of Prince Edward and Princess Isabelle of France. This is a marriage of duty, not love as the Prince is gay and covets his paramour Philip. Horner understands the emotional dynamics and the conception of his score here is subtle and brilliant. He supports the marriage with a duet of male voices singing Domino Fidelum – the faithful. In “Grown Wallace Arrives” Robert The Bruce’s narration informs us of the despicable English practice of Prima Noctes, which grants English nobles the right of sexual congress for a bride’s first night. The scene is portentous as we see the now adult William Wallace returning on horseback to his father’s village. French horns carry his progress and usher in his theme on strings doloroso. The War Theme on dire horns joins and the two themes become one, informing us of William’s destiny.

“Scottish Wedding Music” reveals the village celebrating the wedding of a young couple. A traditional festive Celtic dance supports the merriment. The music dissipates as boyhood friend Hamish challenges William’s manhood to a test of strength – throwing large, heavy boulders. In “Drum Roll/Sleepy Maggy” Hamish and William contest in boulder throwing. Spirited Celtic music born by rattling drums, pipes and flute animato carry the contest, until interrupted by the arrival of Lord Bottoms and English soldiers. “Prima Noctes” reveal the English Sheriff Lord Bottoms exercising his Prima Noctes rights with a newlywed bride. Horner sows’ disquiet as husband and wife share a parting kiss using Kena flute, which dances atop a bed of shifting electronica auras and sythn voices. The sounds dissipate as a lecherous English soldier leers at Murron, now a beautiful woman. “Wallace Courts Murron” offers a beautiful score highlight where we bear witness to stirring interplay of both love themes. Wallace and Murron set off on a night ride, and festive drums animato, lute and whistle energetically carry their progress. At 0:29 Murron’s Theme enters on Uilleann pipes joined by oboe delicato, strings tenero and soft horns. At 1:30 we flow sumptuously into the second Love Theme before returning gently on Murron’s Theme as he returns her home. Her theme blossoms as we see in their eyes that they are in love. As he departs, he poetically gifts her a thistle blossom. We close the cue next day at 3:55 atop timpani and a dark bass sustain as William joins Murron’s father and village elders to discuss the oppressive presence of the English garrison.

“The Secret Wedding” offers a supreme score highlight where we are once again graced with stirring interplay of both love themes. I believe Horner’s writing for woodwinds is sublime and the confluence of music and film a testament to his genius. We open with tenderness upon strings gentile as William takes Murron away from her parents into the woods and proposes. At 0:47 she accepts and as they embrace and kiss Murron’s Theme blossoms for a wondrous exposition by tremulous flute delicato, sumptuous strings and harp adornment. Later that night they sneak off for a secret wedding ceremony as her father does not approve, and they hope to not suffer Prima Noctes. As they say the vows and are joined husband and wife by a priest the second Love Theme enters to commemorate the moment. Later as they make love the two Love Themes entwine, achieving a rapturous confluence of extraordinary beauty, which leaves us breathless.

“Attack on Murron” offers the score’s first action piece, which supports William’s heroic rescue of Murron. Lecherous soldiers corner Murron and begin to rape her. Dire woodwinds and horns of doom support the men’s brutality. At 0:39 William comes to Murron’s rescue propelled by an aggressive driving string ostinato, war-like timpani and anguished woodwinds. He sets her off on horseback to escape to the grove and as he struggles to escape on foot. An anguished Love Theme joins with the rescue ostinato and drums to carry his progress. We build to a crescendo, which is severed a soldiers whack Murron off her horse. William has managed to escape in an English uniform and as he searches for her in the grove, haunting synth voices portend her doom. In “Revenge” Murron has been captured and the commander executes her by slicing her throat, intent on luring William back to be also cut down. Dire drum strikes, fluttering pan flutes, haunting synth voices and dark electronica auras carry William’s slow and audacious horse ride into the village. We build to a crescendo at 3:20 when William strikes down a soldier and all hell breaks loose as he and the villagers attack. Growling vocals, frenetic pan pipes, wailing woodwinds and chattering drums drive forth with gruesome power. An accelerando commences at 5:25 as they overwhelm the garrison and capture the commander. A diminuendo to a grim sustain supports William leading the commander to the post where he slaughtered Murron. Pan pipes and a thundering thud at 6:35 supports William slitting the commander’s throat.

“Murron’s Burial” reveals William kissing Murron goodbye at her funeral, and then falling to his knees and asking forgiveness from her parents, which they grant. Horner supports the scene with a last reprise of her theme on harp, which plays over a violin sustain. At 0:21 lush strings take up her theme and join with the Love Theme, now so full of heartache. In “Wallace on the Move/Run to the Stronghold” other clans join under his banner and they march on the fort commanded by Lord Bottoms, which they capture by impersonating an English regimen. Bagpipes and fierce drums empower the men and carry their progress as they capture the fort, kill Lord Bottoms and burn the fort. At 0:28 a grim shifting electronica sustain supports a shift to the Royal court where King Edward strikes his son for incompetence and orders him to personally squelch this rebellion. A plaintive oboe supports the plight of Princess Isabelle who attempts to comfort Edward, only to be cruelly brushed aside. At 1:54 Horner unleashes the earlier brutal drum and bagpipes line as we see English soldiers massacring and burning Scottish villages. At 2:43 an accelerando commences as English cavalry pursue some Scots into a ravine, only to be ambushed by Wallace’s men.

“Making Plans/Gathering the Clans” reveals Irish clan leader Stephen joining the rebellion. He later joins William on a deer hunt, and manages to save his life by cutting down an assassin. Low male synth voices, drums and stick percussion sow unease as the men hunt and the assassin is cut down. We shift at 1:12 to a celebratory line of Uilleann pipes and William’s Theme, which emote festively when news arrives that an English army has settled at Stirling and the Highland clans have come to join Wallace in the fight. “Sons of Scotland” offers one of the score’s most inspiring cues. The Scots have assembled their battle line, yet there is quarreling among them as to who is in command. Horner sows fear and unease with martial drums and the dire horns of the War Theme as the better armed and numerically superior English troops arrive. At 1:39 William rides forth in front of the Scottish lines with his face decorated with blue war paint. A bold rendering of Malcolm’s Theme carries his progress. He sees that his men are divided and fearful, and so at 4:43 he delivers a rousing speech. An inspired rendering of the Requiem Theme supports his speech, which succeeds in rallying the men. We end on a diminuendo of uncertainty as the English send emissaries to provide terms to the Scots.

William purposely offends the English commander and “The Battle of Stirling” is at hand. Pounding martial timpani and an intensifying electronica sustain support the movement of English archers to the forefront. At 0:34 bagpipes counter as the Scots yell derisively and lift their kilts to expose themselves. The English fire two volleys of arrows and the Scots survive with minor casualties and mockingly moon the English. William signals the Scottish cavalry to ride off as though they were fleeing and the English commander takes the bait and orders a cavalry charge, which commences at 1:54 empowered by a drum ostinato with counters by bagpipes. At 3:01 an accelerando commences as the cavalry charge intensifies. As they collide against Scottish pikes at 3:37, the score goes silent for the remainder of the battle. At 3:51 Horner scores the aftermath with French horns and woodwinds emoting Malcolm’s Theme. When William raises his sword in victory and yells to the heavens, Malcolm’s Theme crests triumphantly at 4:20 as an anthem of victory. We close in a scene change with William being knighted for his victory. William’s theme born proudly by strings tutti carries the moment. In “Wallace Moves on York” the noble houses contest for kingship after the knighting ceremony and William departs, rebuking them for failing to defend the people. William exhorts Robert to join him in defending Scotland, confiding to him that he would follow him as King. A pastorale supports the intimacy of the two men as we see in Robert’s eyes his admiration of William’s selfless nobility. In a scene change martial drums and horn fare declarations of the War Theme resound and support William’s march on the English city of York. Once again Horner does not score the actual battle and sack of York.

“Wallace’s Dream” reveals William dreaming of his beloved Murron, which Horner supports with ghostly sythn textures. At 0:58 her apparition is revealed, supported by a plaintive rendering of her Love Theme by oboe doloroso as he confesses that he misses her and she counsels him to wake. In “Vision of Murron” the English send an emissary to negotiate with William. To his surprise he discovers that the emissary is Princess Isabelle who reminds him of Murron. We see in their eyes a nascent attraction, she for his courage and nobility, he for her sincerity and beauty. Horner is insightful and offers a tentative rendering of the Love Theme to support the moment, and within the notes we discern strains of Murron. “The Princess Was a Pawn” reveals Edward’s treachery when he informs Isabelle upon her return that he used her as a pawn to buy time. He has moved the fleet north and assembled a new army, which he will use to crush Wallace and reconquer Scotland. Horner scores the scene minimally with repeated three-note phrases by ominous low register strings full of menace. At 1:28 we segue into “Wallace Moves Again” where Isabelle delivers a note to William informing him of King Edward’s designs. William orders a withdrawal from York and a return to Edinburgh to recruit the noble houses to defend Scotland. Drums animato, Uilleann pipes and electronica propel William and carry his progress to the Great Hall

The council session in the Great Hall is unscored. William makes an impassioned call for all the nobles to commit fully to challenging King Edward in battle. They however believe they are outnumbered, cannot win and argue for a negotiated settlement. William appeals to their patriotism, and when this fails, calls them out as cowards, which causes outrage and breaks up the meeting. “Falkirk” offers a fine action cue. Robert pulls William aside and counsels him to not to be so rash. William exhorts him to join him in defeating England, asserting to Robert that it is the only way for Scotland to regain her freedom and for him to rule as the rightful king. Upper register strings affanato with counter bass pulses support the moment and reflect the conflict seen in Robert’s eyes. The music is sustained in the private chambers of Robert’s father who commands him to put the interest of House Bruce first by reneging on his word. He asserts that betraying William and his lost cause by siding with King Edward can be used to further advance their holdings and position in the aftermath of William’s defeat. Robert is clearly tortured by his circumstance and we end with strings of uncertainty. At 1:20 we segue ominously atop repeating horns declarations of the War Theme as we shift to the fields of Falkirk and see the Scots pouring pitch among the fields. At 1:58 snare drums and an orchestral crash supports King Edward’s command for the Irish regimen backed by English infantry men to attack. Dire horns declarations and timpani war drums propel the assault forward with their rhythms. At 2:37 horns of doom catalyze a marcia dall’inferno as the Scots move forward to also attack. We close with an accelerando as the two armies run faster and faster towards each other, building inexorably to a ferocious crescendo, which is truncated as the Irish and Scots embrace in comradeship. Horner does not score the ensuing battle, preferring once again to speak musically to its aftermath.

“Betrayal and Desolation” offers a magnificent cue of heart wrenching emotive power. William signals Scottish cavalry under the command of nobles Mornay and Locklond to attack as the tide of battle has shifted to the Scots after flaming arrows were fired that incinerate the English cavalry. They betray him, bought off by King Edward and ride off. Strings affanato and forlorn timpani strikes speak to William’s desolation from this betrayal. We build upon a crescendo of pain, which crests at 1:57 in agony atop horns of mourning as King Edward orders his archers to reign down on the contesting fighters, perfectly willing to kill his own men along with the Scots. Horner crowns the agony of the scene with a sorrowful rendering of the Love Theme. William has taken an arrow and sees King Edward departing, which enrages him. He mounts a horse for a final desperate charge of vengeance. At 2:32 a galloping accelerando carries his furious pursuit. At 3:07 trumpets resound as a helmeted knight is ordered to defend the king. At 3:30 William is knocked off his horse and appears unconscious. As the knight dismounts and comes to him, William springs to life, rips off his helmet intent on slicing his throat. At 3:39 he discovers to his horror that it is Robert. He backs off, falls to his knees, devastated that his friend has betrayed him. Horner speaks to this pathos of betrayal with a heart wrenching rendering of the Murron’s Theme replete with elegiac French horns, which crescendo in pain at 5:34, offering one of the score’s most exquisite moments. Robert assists Stephen in carrying William away to safety on horseback. We close on a forlorn rendering of William’s Theme, now adorned with ethereal woman’s chorus as we see Robert walking amidst the battlefield, viewing the carnage and horrible human cost.

In “Mornay’s Dream” Mornay lay in his bed dreaming that William has invaded his castle to avenge his betrayal. An eerie textural soundscape of Uilleann pipes, electronica and drum strikes support Mornay’s dream. He awakes at 0:21 to discover William in the flesh in his bedchambers. A ferocious string ostinato, trumpets, and horns of doom propel William on his retributive vengeance as he smashes Morney’s skull with a mace, and then escape riding his horse off a ledge to the moat below. Forlorn woodwinds support “The Legend Spreads”, which reveals Locklond’s corpse being dumped on Robert’s dinner table. At 0:11 we shift scenes to the Scottish Highlands where we see William running free, and happy having avenged those who betrayed him. His theme, emoted as a danza vivace carried by Uilleann pipes and drums animato carry his progress. “The Fire Trap” offers a cue of great savagery. William, Stephen and Hamish arrive for a parley with the English to discuss an armistice. It is in reality an ambush, which Williams smells out. They trap the English in the hut and set it afire. We open darkly atop drums vigorosi, which launch a mayhem of horrific textural writing using harsh electronica, growling bass and pipes, which support the conflagration. “Romantic Alliance” offers a score highlight, which supports three pivotal scenes. Princess Isabelle has joined William in secret and all is laid bare between them as they consummate their love for each other. We bear witness to the score’s most ardent and passionate rendering of the Love Theme, which leaves us breathless. Musical continuity is sustained as we shift to Robert tending to his dying father, then King Edward falling ill, and lastly Isabelle caressing her womb, joyous in the revelation that she bears William’s child.

“Wallace Is Caught” supports new treachery by the Scottish nobles and Robert’s father as William is lured into an ambush. William rides to Edinburgh to meet with Robert and the nobles, carried with confidence by his theme. We build to a crescendo at 0:54, which dissipates into an eerie electronic sustain and random drum strikes as William dismounts and Robert walks to greet him, unaware of the ambush. At 1:11 a counter groaning electronica joins as William is ambushed by English soldiers and brutally beaten. Robert is outraged, confronts his father who admits complicity, which ruptures the father-son bond as Robert disavows him. In “The Princess Pleads for Wallace’s Life” Isabelle meets with William in the dungeon and offers him a sedative potion in hope of easing the pain of his torture and execution the next day. Horner supports her pleading with a plaintive rendering of the Love Theme, now adorned with twinkling harp and choir. After a parting kiss she leaves heartbroken. The Love Theme carries her to King Edwards death bed where her pleading for mercy is rejected by both him and his son. Inwardly furious, she avenges William by whispering into King Edward’s ear that his bloodline ends with him, that she is pregnant with William’s son, and that she will ensure his son never rules. He is stricken and speechless from the ravages of tuberculosis and we see in his eyes his raging fury and helplessness.

“Wallace to the Scaffold” reveals the bound William being taken in a cart to the scaffold for his torture and execution. As he is harangued and pelted by food, and an eerie and stark rendering of the Love Theme by electronica carries his progress. We now come to the cue “Freedom” where the score achieves its emotional apogee. The magistrate uncovers an array of blades, which will be used in his torture, but offers him a quick death if he confesses to treason and declares fealty to the King. He refuses and is hoisted by a noose in hope that his resolve will weaken. It does not. They then rack him, and yet he still refuses to confess. They finally tie him to a table for execution and begin to disembowel him. Horner supports the pathos of the moment with interplay of Malcolm’s and the Requiem Themes as the crowd calls out for mercy. Slowly an inexorable crescendo unfolds, which culminates at 1:50 as the Requiem Theme resounds to support his cry out – “Freedom!” At 2:37 we segue into “The Execution”. As the executioner raises his axe William sees a vision of Murron in the crowd, which Horner supports with a tender rendering of her theme carried by ethereal women’s chorus and sumptuous strings. The moment is fleeting with the music silenced with his beheading. At 3:28 we segue atop drums and whistle to “Bannockburn”, where a Scottish army under command of Robert The Bruce have come to declare to the English Commander fealty to King Edward, as the price for acknowledgement of his kingship of Scotland. As Robert contemplates, he pulls from his sleeve William’s treasured handkerchief. We are informed of his intentions as Malcolm’s Theme rises to support his call to arms for the Scots to bleed for him, as they did for Wallace. Hamish throws William’s sword aloft and a liberating rending of Malcolm’s Theme carries its flight and strike of the ground, which initiates a charge of the Scots. Narration informs us of their victory and liberation of Scotland.

“End Credits” offers a magnificent score highlight where Horner graces us with a suite of his primary themes. We open with a reverent rendering of the Requiem Theme, which gains emotive power and eloquence. At 1:41 William’s Theme joins in wondrous contrapuntal interplay, adding poignancy to the narrative flow. At 2:15 we flow atop sumptuously strings romantico into the Love Theme, which transitions at 3:10 to Murron’s Theme born by women’s choir, which transfers the melodic line to oboe and then French horn. At 4:45 Uilleann pipes reprise William’s Theme, which joins once again at 5:20 with the chorus carried Requiem Theme, which speaks of the shared destiny of father and son. We close solemnly on a final reprise of William’s Theme, which fades like the mist of the Scottish Highlands. I will explore one bonus cue “For the Love of a Princess”, which is a masterpiece. It is a concert piece arrangement, which showcases Horner’s two Love Themes. We open with Murron’s Love Theme on tremulous flute and sumptuous strings. At 1:00 the melodic line is transferred to oboe and then at 1:45 to strings romantico with harp adornment. At 2:22 we flow into the Isabelle’s Love Theme atop strings passionato for a breath-taking statement. Horner closes the piece with sadness and regret as tragically, William’s love for both Murron and Isabelle never came to fruition.

I would like to thank producers Don Goldwasser and Mike Matessino, as well as MV Gerhard and Matt Verboys of La La Land Records for this extraordinary expanded release of James Horner’s masterpiece “Braveheart”. The digital mastering by Mike Matessino is again peerless, providing pristine audio and a wonderful listening experience. James Horner related that of all the scores in his canon, that this was his personal favorite and it is easy to understand why. He masterfully captured the emotional core of the film, elevated its narrative and exceeded Gibson’s expectations. This score was brilliant in its insight and understanding of the complex emotional drivers of the film as we bore witness to a multiplicity of beautiful themes, with stirring contrapuntal interplay. He captured William Wallace’s nobility and indomitable spirit, the pathos and suffering of the Scottish people, and graced us with two of the finest love themes in his canon. In scene after scene the confluence of music and film narrative affirms Horner’s mastery of his craft. Braveheart is one of the finest scores in Horner’s canon, a masterwork of conception and execution, and a masterpiece of the late Bronze Age. The La La Land album is of exceptional quality and I highly recommend you purchase it for your collection.

For those of you unfamiliar with the score I have embedded a YouTube link for the poignant End Credits suite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lu-gKijKA9Y

Buy the Braveheart soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • ORIGINAL 1995 RELEASE
  • Main Title (2:51)
  • A Gift of a Thistle (1:37)
  • Wallace Courts Murron (4:25)
  • The Secret Wedding (6:33)
  • Attack on Murron (3:00)
  • Revenge (6:23)
  • Murron’s Burial (2:13)
  • Making Plans/Gathering the Clans (2:05)
  • Sons of Scotland (6:19)
  • The Battle of Stirling (6:07)
  • For tThe Love of a Princess (4:07)
  • Falkirk (4:04)
  • Betrayal and Desolation (7:48)
  • Mornay’s Dream (1:18)
  • The Legend Spreads (1:09)
  • The Princess Pleads For Wallace’s Life (3:38)
  • Freedom/The Execution/Bannockburn (7:24)
  • End Credits (7:12)
  • EXPANDED 2015 RELEASE
  • Logo/Main Title (3:38)
  • Hanging of the Peacemakers (1:21)
  • William’s Father Leaves to Fight (0:59)
  • A Father’s Final Return (2:56)
  • A Gift of a Thistle (1:39)
  • Outlawed Tunes on Outlawed Pipes (2:06)
  • Royal Wedding/Domino Fidelium (2:10)
  • Grown Wallace Arrives (1:19)
  • Prima Noctes (1:58)
  • Wallace Courts Murron (4:29)
  • The Secret Wedding (6:36)
  • Attack on Murron (3:02)
  • Revenge (6:46)
  • Murron’s Burial (2:17)
  • Wallace on the Move/Run to the Stronghold (3:26)
  • Making Plans/Gathering the Clans (2:13)
  • Sons of Scotland (6:22)
  • The Battle of Stirling (6:18)
  • Wallace Moves on York (1:25)
  • Wallace’s Dream (2:13)
  • Vision of Murron (1:55)
  • The Princess Was a Pawn/Wallace Moves Again (2:38)
  • Falkirk (4:08)
  • Betrayal and Desolation (51:00)
  • Mornay’s Dream (1:19)
  • The Legend Spreads (1:13)
  • The Fire Trap (1:16)
  • Romantic Alliance (2:25)
  • Wallace is Caught (1:43)
  • The Princess Pleads for Wallace’s Life (3:39)
  • Wallace to the Scaffold (1:22)
  • Freedom/The Execution/Bannockburn (7:23)
  • End Credits (7:15)
  • For the Love of a Princess (4:11)
  • Scottish Wedding Music (1:25) – SOURCE
  • Drum Roll/Sleepy Maggy (1:13) – SOURCE
  • Main Title (Album Version) (2:55) – BONUS
  • Sons of Scotland (Alternate) (6:21) – BONUS
  • The Battle of Stirling (Alternate Opening) (2:06) – BONUS
  • The Princess Pleads for Wallace’s Life (Album Version) (3:43) – BONUS

Running Time: 78 minutes 13 seconds (Original)
Running Time: 172 minutes 23 seconds (Expanded)

Decca 289-448-295-2 (1995)
La-La Land Records LLLCD-1375 (1995/2015)

Music composed and conducted by James Horner. Performed by The London Symphony Orchestra. Orchestrations by Jams Horner. Featured musical soloists Tony Hinnigan, Eric Rigler, Mike Taylor and Ian Underwood. Recorded and mixed by Shawn Murphy. Edited by Jim Henrikson. Score produced by James Horner. 2015 special edition produced by Dan Goldasser, Mike Matessino, MV Gerhard and Matt Verboys.

  1. April 1, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    Yes! Wonderful choice Craig.

  2. KAK
    April 6, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    Probably Horner’s most accomplished score of his career.

    On a side note, it would be great if you did a review like this for A Beautiful Mind.

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