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Review any two movies of the following list. Identify and describe the main characters, their method of controlling and inspiring others, the major personality attributes, the situations and how or why the characters were motivated. Braveheart, Wallstreet, One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest, Elizabeth, Staying Alive, Airforce I, Gandhi, King&I, Forrest Gump, Evita Peron.

There are various approaches in studying leadership. The analysis of particular movies can be considered as one such approach. By using entertainment as a medium, it is easy to see why movies can increase the attention span considerably as compared to other methods of educational communication. Through this concentration comes knowledge, and from this knowledge one can reflect back and contemplate on specific issues and ideas portrayed in the film to gain a more well rounded understanding.

As for this paper, the film “Braveheart” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” are used as an educational tool for different aspects of leadership. The main character will be analyzed in fair detail as to identify what his main motivating factors were and how he managed to exude this motivation and influence others with it. His personal attributes shall also be closely examined so as to determine how these characteristics contributed to his successful leadership qualities.


“Sir Wiliam Wallace of Elerslie, hero of Scotland and true patriot, his desire for peace and freedom united the clans, gained the loyalty of the people, struck fear into his enemies and defied the cruel hand of an evil, warring and invading King.”

Highlander Web Magazine.

Braveheart is the movie based on true story of one of the most famous Scottish patriots. Born of pure Scottish blood but having lived away from his homeland for many years, the legendary “William Wallace” started his life like any other boy in Scotland. During that time the King of Scotland died without an hier. Knowing this, The king of England known as Edward the Longshanks took advantage of the situation and seized the vacant throne, taking away the freedom and independence from the Scottish people. From that point on William’s life changed forever. His father and brother were killed because of trying to free Scotland and his wife was captured and killed for assaults on king’s guard. This is the motivation that made William Wallace gain his unequivocal intention for the deliverance of independence from English rule to the Scottish people so that no one else would ever have to suffer under the laws of King Edward ever again.

From then William Wallace never gave up hope of seeking freedom. He became a leader of a ramshackle yet courageous army determined to defeat the greater English force. Wallace’s courage and passion united the Scottish people. It must be understood though that William capitalizes well on the general sentiment of the masses from the start. The Scottish public was already growing tired and weary of the harsh medieval laws and practices forced upon them by the English lords but were only too afraid to stand up and confront the superior power. A leader who gave them hope of escaping from this vicious cycle was thus more than welcomed even though the probability of making a difference was seen to be minimal.

William Wallace inspires his Scottish People by identifying a common purpose “The Pursuit of Freedom”. He shares his vision of freedom with others and it lives on in the Scots even after he was executed for his disloyalty to the King.

Moreover, by his intelligence, physical strength, dependability, dominance and enthusiastic energy, he is able to make people around him concentrate and believe in his decisions.

During the course of the film, William surprises many with his educational background. Being able to speak several languages, William manages to create a positive impression on those who initially underestimate him – No less the French princess herself. Those who prove themselves to be knowledgeable, it seems, easily gain deserved respect and trust.

To elaborate further, it is clear that his dependability that is mentioned adds a feeling of safety to his fellow patriots who are extremely vulnerable to the feeling of abandonment. Whilst his dominance enables him to efficiently lead and subsequently follow through any potential battled plan without much opposition.

William Wallace’s behavior has a direct impact on the consequences of others’ behavior. In other words, he has high locus of control. As you can see towards the end of the film, William Wallace illustrates a good example of a classical leadership trait. His courageous determination to show no pain throughout his public torture positively affects the initially unpleasant English public. The sympathy that he draws manages to turn the hostile crowd that gathered to watch his execution into an almost supportive one. Even after his execution William’s total faith in his ideals ensures that his legacy is not forever forgotten and that his charisma and character continue to induce a mental leader in the minds of those who once followed him and those who will learn to follow him.

He was also an obvious risk taker. Even though his clan’s power, strength, and numbers was evidently incomparable to the English forces he was still prepared to take these risks in exchange for the possibility of freedom. His direct confrontation with corrupt Scottish nobles illustrates his risk taking well. This is further amplified when later on in the film he both openly declares war against the English and meets with the English King to offer a truce. Though risk taking in the end leads to his own demise he was seen to have shown an extremely high level of risk propensity.

William always maintained that every individual should have their own individual freedom and not be controlled by the self-appointed English nobles. This indicates his high level of self-esteem. Coupled with his self-efficacy, these two qualities induced in him the belief that he had the ability to go against the unfairness offered by the medieval English system.

William Wallace is perhaps the greatest hero of the Scottish people. His legend inspired 100,000 people to gather on June 24, 1861, 556 years after his death, at the opening ceremony of the 300-foot National Monument in Stirling that continues to honor his ceremony. It was here Wallace once led a band of desperate and outnumbered Scots to a glorious victory over the English.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

One flew over the cuckoo’s nest is the story written by Ken Kesey and won an Oscar for Best Movie in 1975. This story reflects the unjust society in which disadvantaged individuals reluctantly have their futures destined for them by external controlling forces. Those under control are expected to follow the rules and regulations set by those who claim superiority thus the arrival of Randle Patrick McMurphy came as a shock to the system. The challenges he confronted lead to the consequent review of the system by his peers and spurred them on to stand up and fight for their basic rights and individualism.

Randle Patrick McMurphy, a crude new admission to an asylum, has been sentenced for short term for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Rather than spend his time in jail, he convinced the guard that he is crazy enough to need psychiatric care. Finally, he has escaped work at prison farm and was sent to mental hospital which a place that he show his leadership and rebelliousness.

In the mental hospital, he met Nurse Ratched who is unfeeling and forces the patient into submission rather than helping them to regain self-efficiency. He also became acquainted with Chief Bromden who is a large, powerful man but pretends to be a deaf-mute because he sees himself as a small, easily defeatable man. McMurphy sees that the hospital system does not help patients to improve themselves but actually makes them worse instead. This environment motivated him to help other patients to regain their independence, self-confidence and ability to return to the outside world. He gave the patients the desire to return to the real world by taking them on excursions, teaching them to voice their opinions, and by altering their daily lives at the hospital.

As one would generally understand, a mental asylum is the last place on earth where one should expected a decent level of flexibility. Patients are required, in their best interest allegedly, to follow strict rules and procedures without question. McMurphy though, upon his arrival, had other ideas. He set out to challenge the system that seemed to limit and cage his self-esteem. His belief in individualism gave rise to queries and consequent demands. This was to mark the beginning of his leadership role. His target and goal now was to change the system for the better.

McMurphy was a source of inspiration to the other patients. A particular scene in the film illustrates this well. On seeing a heavy control panel, McMurphy indicated to his peers that he could lift the object and throw it through a window to create an escape route. Upon trying McMurphy came to realize that he did not possess enough strength to even move it let alone throw it. His actions though did begin to inspire the less than confident Chief Bromden whose physique was obviously more suited for the task. At the end of movie Chief Bromden began to believe in himself and consequently escaped from the hospital by doing what McMurphy used to show him. McMurphy’s relentless effort and his willingness to try anything proved to be extremely beneficial to the patients around him who never bothered to try anything. “At least I tried” were the inspiring words he left with the others. McMurphy seems to believe that even he is not successful in changing the system but it is still very effective that he tried and set and example for other to follow and if he can change a small aspect of system it was well worth the fight.

McMurphy always made clear his opinions and demands. One particular incident was when he requested that the TV be turned on out of the normally allocated time for an important baseball game, World Series. At first the other patients were hesitant in showing their support to his idea but having seen his dogged persistence managed to pluck up enough courage to diverge off the rails of set control and reveal their own thoughts – support for McMurphy. This situation shows that he has a high locus of control. In other words, his behavior has a significant impact on the behaviors of the other patients.

Moreover, He also had underlying risk taking trait within his character. He risked disciplinary punishment when he smuggled two girls into the hospital ward to meet up with a fellow patient. The needs of this patient proved to be of enough reason for him to take the risk thus showing his care for the individual.

McMurphy has shown that he can be a good leader eventhough he lost his life in his fight to change the Hospital system. His death also left a substantial impact on the hospital. It is evident that even though in some situations achieving a goal may be both difficult and improbable, it does not necessary imply that the mission is impossible. The right type of character and personality is the main support when you are trying to achieve your goal.


In both of these movies, They have shown that Leadership is the art or process of influencing people so that they contribute willingly and enthusiastically toward group goal. Leadership also requires Followership. People tend to follow those whom they see as providing a mean of achieving their own desire, wants and needs. In the other words, it is the willingness of people to follow that defines a person as a leader.


Highlander Web Magazine : www.highlanderweb.co.uk

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