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I CAN'T FORGIVE SNP FOR HIJACKING BRAVEHEART; Says creator of Oscar-winning epic.

Byline: JOHN MILLAR EXCLUSIVE

BRAVEHEART creator Randall Wallace has told of his fury at the the SNP for hijacking the message of the Oscar-winning movie.

The Nats handed out party leaflets bearing a photo of Mel Gibson as William Wallace at the film's premiere at Stirling Castle in 1995.

They even asked writer Wallace, an American proud of his Scots roots, to a party conference, but he refused.

Wallace, who is producing new war flick We Were Soldiers spoke of his anger for the first time last week.

He told the Sunday Mail: "I feel such an affinity for Scotland and I love what I know Scots are. And, although I am American, I consider myself to be one.

"But I'd never presume to tell Scots how to vote. I love the fact that Braveheart has seemed to help stimulate or warm the hearts of Scots and helped them to be more proud of who they are.

"But I don't have any sense in myself of what Scotland's political future should be. So I am uncomfortable with anybody identifying it that way.

"To me, Scotland should be Scottish and Scotland is Scottish, and a lot of Scottish blood has been shed under a Union Flag. I was asked once to speak at a convention of the Nationalist party and I would not even think of that. Being the person who wrote Braveheart and who said this is the title of this story, I don't concede that name to any political entity.

"The Scottish people have displayed, over hundreds of years, not only courage on the battlefield but also remarkable resilience, inventiveness and genius in arts, science and engineering.

"My personal hope is that Scotland will have a full flowering of itself, independent of historical animosity."

Wallace has again teamed up with Gibson for the Vietnam War movie, We Were Soldiers.

It's a harrowing story about the bloody conflict in November 1965, when 400 US soldiers were surrounded by 2000 Viet Cong.

And he revealed a real-life war hero's words of comfort helped him fight the pain when he became one of the walking wounded during the making of the movie.

Halfway through filming at sweltering Fort Hunter Liggett, in north California, the moviemaker finished up on crutches.

Wallace - the film's writer, director and producer - was in severe pain after tearing an Achilles tendon while playing basketball with the crew.

He could have called a halt to the production until it healed, but Wallace insisted on carrying on. And his action greatly impressed General Hal Moore, the old soldier - played by Gibson - whose book about the fierce battle inspired the film.

Wallace told the Sunday Mail - the only Scottish newspaper invited on to the film location: "He sent me an e-mail which said, 'I hear you have been wounded in action and refuse to quit - this will inspire the troops.'

"He was right. Everyone pulled for me. They knew how I hard I was trying."

Wallace has since made a full recovery and reckons his bullish attitude helped him get over the injury.

He said he saw the film as an opportunity to heal the wound left by the Vietnam War, adding: "The American family has always been divided over Vietnam

"I believe both can look at this picture and say, 'Amen.'

"This film does not discuss why we were in Vietnam, what we thought then or what we think now. What it does is say what these soldiers did."

Wallace was delighted to work again with Mel Gibson and the feeling is mutual. Randall added: "Mel said this was the best experience he ever had making a movie."

We Were Soldiers opens in the UK next month.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 24, 2002
Words:617
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