What does Braveheart, Apollo 13, and Tombstone have in common? Nothing, actually. In fact, they couldn't be more different: one takes place in Scotland, another in outer fucking space, and the latter during the Wild West. But I'm running low on time here and the month is almost complete so it's time to get creative.
In my never-ending quest to bring you humor mixed with information, I'm going to drop some knowledge bombs about these movies that don't normally turn up in your menial life.
Braveheart follows a very loosely based account of the life of William Wallace, a dirty peasant who leads a revolt so efficently Texas is taking notes to secede from the Union. To get to this point in his life, Wallace's main squeeze, Murron MacClannough, is executed for using self-defense against an English soldier who tried to rape her. Hm, seems legit.
Wallace conjures an army of kilt-wearing, bagpipe-playing, caber-throwing Scottish warriors to fight against the tyranny imposed by the King of England: King Edward Longshanks. What a fucking name!
William Wallace really had some balls — emphasis on the word HAD because they were chopped off by the end of the movie while being tortured after he's found guilty for high treason.
At least he didn't die in vain and can rest in peace knowing how many years of mileage we got out of screaming "They may take our stuff, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM!" when the TSA confiscates our nail clippers and toothpaste at the airport.
What You Don't Know
- Mechanical horses were used for the battle sequences and weighed 200 pounds. They were fueled by nitrogen cylinders to propel them at 30 mph on 20-foot tracks. Mel Gibson has said he would give five dollars to anyone who could spot the fake horses in the final film. So far he has not had to pay on the wager.
- Real life descendants of William Wallace are extras in the movie. Mel Gibson also stayed with them during the course of the film to learn more about Wallace's history.
- Speaking of extras: several of the battle scenes had to be re-shot, as some extras were seen wearing sunglasses and wristwatches.
Apollo 13 reunites Forrest Gump and Lieutenant Dan in the most awesome way possible: Space travel. However, Lieutenant Dan is benched when he's diagnosed with measles. Instead, NASA chooses Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon to go into space and fuck up their mission as much as humanly possible. Seriously, their one job was to land on the moon, but ended up having to pull some MacGyver shit just to survive and make it back to Earth in one piece.
The anarchy starts when Kevin Bacon, under simple instruction to complete "housekeeping procedures", blows up one of their oxygen tanks — a basic necessity in life — in a shower of sparks. I'll need to keep that in mind next time my housekeeper forgets to wipe down the pantry door. Anyway, cue the famous line: "Houston, we have a problem."
System after system fails as a result, and they're left floating aimlessly in space with less computing power than a TI-83 calculator. Heaters are disabled, Bill Paxton has a 104 degree fever, and every vital sign being monitored by NASA says they should try to get some sleep, but in an act of mutiny they all remove their biofeedback monitors, because, you know, "Fuck you Siri!"
A drunk Lieutenant Dan is brought back to save the day, calculating which systems can safely be used to bring the three back to Earth. Well, you know the ending: his plan worked.
What You Don't Know
- The weightlessness of the actors shown on film is not CGI or wire tricks. They were placed in a plane that does a series of parabolic arcs, which is the scientific way of saying, "This sum-bitch is going down!" 500 to 600 parabolic arcs were needed to complete all the footage for the final film since each arcs got them only 23 seconds of zero gravity.
- Bill Paxton's line, "I could eat the ass out of a dead rhinoceros." was not said by the real-life Fred Haise. It was made up the day of filming by Gary Busey, who was visiting the set at the time and they thought it would be a good country boy line.
- My wife's grandfather was in the movie. No joke. He was a bigwig at NASA in the 60's and 70's and can be seen in one of the reels of archive footage that was shown in the movie.
Tombstone chronicles the events leading up to the "Shootout at the O.K. Corral," a gunfight between the original Bloods and Crips known historically as "the Earps" and "the Cowboys."
Wyatt Earp and his brothers, Virgil and Morgan, hope to settle down with their wives and start a new life in the quiet town of Tombstone. Little do they known a gang named "The Cowboys" just took out their Tony-Romo-hating aggression on an innocent wedding party and are the rulers of the roost in Tombstone.
After the town marshal is killed, Virgil takes over the position and instates a new law that no men are allowed to carry weapons into town, and all weapons must be checked in on the outskirts. Any Republican can tell you that criminals just don't give up there guns because of laws, right?
Virgil, Wyatt, Morgan, and Doc Holliday decide to confront the Cowboys at the OK Corral to force them to give up their weapons. Predictably, the men resist, and a shootout ensues.
However, the Cowboys still continue their reign of terror, leading to an ambush, another shootout, a duel, and the eventual victory followed by the breakup of the Earps. Except for Morgan; he's dead.
What You Don't Know
- Screenwriter Kevin Jarre insisted the actors wear real wool costumes from that time period. During the scene in the Birdcage Theater, Val Kilmer says, a thermometer was placed on the set, and it read 134 degrees Fahrenheit.
- "I'll be damned" really are the final words of John "Doc" Holliday. There's still a debate on why Doc said that. The main theory is that Doc had become a gunfighter hoping that someone would kill him and spare him the effects of tuberculosis. He was amazed that the disease is what killed him: not all the drinking, gambling, or gun fighting.
- Val Kilmer is still widely known to have done the best historically accurate portrayal of Doc Holliday. He is the same height, same build, and even uses phrases used by Doc Holliday.