Mythologist and author Joseph Campbell once said, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”
Earlier this year, we determined that we would throw caution to the wind and commit ourselves to following our “bliss”. For a number of years our bliss has concerned the idea of restoring the reputation of Robert the Bruce as the greatest warrior king in the history of Scotland by telling the historically factual story of his heroic and successful effort to make his country an independent nation again.
But the origins of our determination to honor King Robert started decades earlier, when a small boy sat playing on the floor of the family’s home in West Virginia. His grandfather, sitting nearby, called the boy to his knee and told him that he should always remember that he descended from the great King of Scotland, Robert the Bruce. Not yet of school age, the child had no idea what it all meant, but he remembered.
In the early 1990s, by then a husband and father of grown children, Charles Randolph Bruce came upon a book by Gordon Donaldson entitled Scottish Kings. Of course, one of the kings “bioed“ in the work was Robert de Brus (Robert the Bruce), King of Scots from 1306 to 1329. So taken was Charles by the dramatic history of Brus’ struggles that he wrote a screenplay based on the story, and in 1992 traveled to California to convince others of its merit as a feature film… but to no avail.
Then in 1995 the Mel Gibson production of Braveheart debuted.
Braveheart, exciting and successful as it was, depicted Robert as diminutive and weak in character, and falsely charged that Robert’s father betrayed to the English the movie’s central character, the Scots patriot Sir William Wallace, resulting in his horrific execution on orders of Edward I (“Longshanks”).
Where was the great Scots warrior king that history books call the best military tactician in medieval Europe? Where was the story of valor and constancy told to Charles by his grandfather?
(In truth, Robert actively supported Sir William Wallace to the point that King Edward demanded that the widowed Brus turn over his infant daughter, Marjorie, as a hostage to guarantee his “good” behavior in future. And as for the rest, Robert’s father was dead, possibly while on Crusade, definitely not from leprosy, but at least by April 4, 1304, over fifteen months before Wallace was captured and killed in August 1305.)
All of these discrepancies and disparagements of Brus and his father lessened the enjoyment of the film by the family of Bruce. But there was naught to be done but put aside the unsold script and accept defeat.
To be continued…