Now, Patrick McGoohan may have been villainous in Silver Streak, which I previously posted about in The Great Villain Blogathon 2017.
However, his role as King Edward “Longshanks” in the 1995 epic film Braveheart revealed an amazing level of treachery and brutality.
Having survived his father and brother, William Wallace of Scotland (played by Mel Gibson) eventually marries his childhood sweetie, Murron.
When English soldiers try to rape her (twice!), first Wallace, then Murron fights them off. So, naturally, the English take exception to this and terminate her with extreme prejudice kill her like a dog carve her throat like a roast.
As a result, Wallace leads his clan in an all-out attack on the English soldiers occupying his town, sending them scurrying back to England. Well, Longshanks is thoroughly displeased, of course. He orders his son Prince Edward to terminate Wallace with extreme prejudice stop Wallace by any means necessary. This all leads up to various factions forming, then breaking up and conspiring against each other, along with a cast of thousands many men swinging axes at one another in big, bloody (as in blood, not the British slang) battles.
Patrick McGoohan’s Longshanks is not only a treacherous and malevolent king who won’t stand for Wallace’s insubordination. He is a pitiless father, who tosses his son’s military advisor out a window, then kicks the shit out of his heir. Keep in mind this movie came out years before the show Game of Thrones.
Perhaps it is a bit ironic that McGoohan was an American-born Irishman playing a vicious English king. Or perhaps not. Maybe it’s more of a demonstration of how closely linked we all are to one another, whether we know it or not.
Whether Longshanks was a bad ruler is the subject of some debate among historians, although apparently he did treat the Scots rather brutally.
In any case, at least as depicted in the film, the fact that his daughter-in-law betrays him and ends up pregnant with Wallace’s child, plus the king’s terminal illness does little to ingratiate this character to the audience. McGoohan’s performance as a mean-spirited son of the bitch may not have earned him an acting award, but is nonetheless one of his most memorable.
This film merits a decided two thumbs-up! 🙂 As does Patrick McGoohan!