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Classical Gibson: Hamlet

brought comparisons to Kurowsawa’s Run and Kubrick's Spartacus. Wallace‘s legendary defeat of the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 is one of the best sequences in the film. inspired says Gibson. by Orson Welles‘ battle of Shrewsbury scene in Chimes at Midnight. Filmed over two weeks. using 3()()() extras and 150 horses. Gibson created his own version of the battle. this time minus the bridge. ‘To have a bridge. you’ve got to have something to put it over. We went throughout Scotland looking for the right location but when we found a body of water it wasn‘t horse friendly. Plus. I discovered that using a bridge on camera involves a lot of mechanics to explain strategies and this is not really very cinematic. To have these two massive forces clashing had much more visual impact.‘ he explains.

Stirling is one of two major battle scenes in the film. the other being the Battle of Falkirk. where Wallace was betrayed by the Scottish nobles and dramatically outnumbered by the English. ‘I didn’t want to emulate something that‘s already been done. I wanted to go a little bit beyond that and deliver a kind of sensory experience for the audience to make them feel that they were at the centre of it and really put it in their face.‘ And in your face it is. Arms and limbs go flying. horses appear to leap out of the screen and there's enough stage blood splattered about to drown the entire English and Scottish armies combined.

If it was Wallace‘s sense of freedom from an

For Robert the Bruce, so the legend goes, it was a spider that gave inspiration before battle; for Angus McFadyen, drawing courage for his first meeting with Mel Gibson, it was a bottle of red wine. The 30-year-old Edinburgh-born actor was being considered for the role of the wimpish, gay Prince Edward in Brasher! but, after reading the script, was convinced that Bruce was the part for him. Suitably fortified, he passionater explained his case to the director-star. Within a week, the role was his.

It was an uncharacteristically audacious move for the soft-spoken Scotsman, but one that has obvioust paid off. In the mid-80$, he was performing at the Bedlam Theatre while studying English and French at Edinburgh University; then he


spent three years at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama; now he’s fifth on the cast list of a blockbuster that’s being shown the world over, and he’s popping up in the tabloids on account of his romance with Catherine Zeta Jones. ‘It was definitely a big jump from what I’d been doing before,’ he admits, with typically shy understatement. ‘It was a five-month shoot, and most of the things I’d done were maybe only a few weeks.’ That past CV includes Soldier, Soldier and the role of the schizophrenic electrical genius in Takin’OverflreAsylum.

Not only was the scale of the movie overwhelming, McFadyen also had to shape up to the task of playing someone who has become more of a symbol than a person. ‘I couldn’t really go on anything from books,’ he says of his preparation, ‘because there’s hardly any sense of a character in those dry historical descriptions. So I had to rely on the script and the ways in which the character is formed in that. He was manipulated by his father [played by a Ieprous Ian Bannen] into hiding his time and not fighting the English, but he also represents the nobility in the equation. In the end, it’s Wallace who inspires him to actually fight.’

And the rest, as they say, is history. For McFadyen, however, the emphasis is on the future. He’s currently on the Isle of Man shooting World War II prisoner-of-war drama The Brylcreem Bay: and has recently completed an American mini~ series playing Richard Burton opposite Sherllyn Fenn’s Elizabeth Taylor. But, despite his boldness in landing the Bran-heart role, he’s playing it much more cautiously in the Hollywood courting game. ‘Basically, there's all these shite scripts that come pouring through. To a certain extent, because things are thin on the ground here, it’s excusable to take on something like that. But if you start messing up over there by making your next choice a wrong one, that’s it. You lose your chance. So I just want to be very careful.’ (Alan Morrison)

oppressive sovereign state that appealed to Gibson. how does he. as an Atistralian. feel about the move towards breaking links with the Commonwealth'.’ ‘I don‘t know that becoming a republic is necessarily the best idea down there.‘ be carefully answers. ‘If you look at the history of the place. Australia functioned as a triple A credit rated country which did very well under that system and had all their sovereign freedoms guaranteed whilst living as a free country ~ it was the lucky country. I think the kind of things that have brought economic hardship in more recent years and weakened the country has come from mismanagement in government. 'l’o pull the constitution that‘s developed under sovereignty and to introduce a new system of republic might be biting off a bit more than they can chew and it leaves a lot of room for a lot of

unhealthy change to come in.‘ His answer indicates a political conservatism linked to his devout Catholicism. Married for fifteen years and a lather to six children. Gibson has been criticised for voicing anti-gay statements to the press and has infuriated pro-abortion campaigners with his pro-life stance.

Surrounded by the chintzy upholstery and careful gaze of his minders. Gibson looks uncomfortable in this plush hotel room. like he'd much rather be propping up a bar. smoking a Marlboro and chewing the fat with his mates. Shame he‘s not drinking these days. otherwise I might have dragged him down the pub for a pint to calm his first night nerves.

Brave/twirl is on general release/ruin Friday 8 .S'iym'm/M'I:

8 The List 8-2I Sept I995