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Donald's Corner Blog: Filmspotting--Cinematic Scotland

| BY Donald Liebenson

Thursday could be history in the making (or unmaking) as the people of Scotland go to the polls to vote for independence from the United Kingdom, ending a more than three centuries union. I can’t say I’ve been following this too closely, but the thought occurred:
What would a vote for independence would mean for the Scottish film industry.

An open letter to the Scotland’s film community from something called the Film Industry Network takes an “if it ain’t broke” line on behalf of the “interconnected community of creative professional who have complete freedom to work in any region without borders or barriers to entry… As far as we know it, there is no concrete investment plan, tax incentive program or any clear vision about the future of Scotland’s creative industries outside of the UK…Consider carefully how your vote will affect the future of the Scottish industry.”

The Daily Beast reports that in Hollywood, transplanted Scottish actors are making like Mel Gibson in “Braveheart” in their call for “FREEDOM.” Alan Cumming, Brian Cox, Sean Connery, Gerald Butler, and others, are campaigning for Team Yes on independence. Cox, the report states, has held private talks with Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond about a program of “creative investment” that would lead to construction of the country’s own movie studio.

Whether the vote goes Aye or Naw, this seemed an opportune time to revisit a few favorite Scottish films that offer much more than just beautiful scenery and the lilt of that beguiling accent about which John Oliver recently joked, “you think you can do but you can’t.”

Local Hero: My favorite. To experience this understated treasure is to be besotted by it, much like the film’s main character, an “extra normal” Texas oil company dealmaker who falls under the spell of the fishing village he was dispatched to buy as a new refinery site. Also recommended is Forsyth’s coming-of-age charmer, Gregory’s Girl. Oh, and Comfort and Joy, a hard to find Christmas movie about a lonely and depressed disc jockey who gets a new lease on life when he gets involved in a war between rival ice cream purveyors.

Trainspotting: The anti-“Hero.” Danny Boyle’s unflinching adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel about Scotland’s heroin subculture has built up its own cult following. “Also recommended is Boyle’s debut feature, Shallow Grave, a nifty thriller about three roommates who find their new flatmate dead and in possession of a suitcase full of money. They conspire to keep both a secret. Big mistake.

The 39 Steps:  This is cheating a bit, because this is a British film, but it’s one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best and it is set almost entirely in Scotland, where Robert Donat, falsely accused of murder, tries to prove his innocence and the meaning of those words in the title.

Whiskey Galore: Another British film and a comedy classic set on a remote Scottish island whose residents band together to rescue 50,000 cases of whiskey from a shipwrecked vessel.

The Wicker Man: Good lord, not the Nicolas Cage version, but the 1974 cult classic starring Edward Woodward as a devout policeman who comes to a remote island to investigate a young girl’s disappearance.

As for movies filmed in Scotland, the list is numerous: “Braveheart”; “Casino Royale”; “Highlander”; “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”; Billy Wilder’s criminally underseen “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” and “Skyfall,” not to mention four Harry Potter films. Whichever way the vote goes, just keep the movies coming!

Thursday could be history in the making (or unmaking) as the people of Scotland go to the polls to vote for independence from the United Kingdom, ending a more than three centuries union. I can’t say I’ve been following this too closely, but the thought occurred what a vote for independence would mean for the Scottish film industry. An open letter to the Scotland’s film community from something called the Film Industry Network takes an “if it ain’t broke” line on behalf of the “interconnected community of creative professional who have complete freedom to work in any region without borders or barriers to entry… As far as we know it, there is no concrete investment plan, tax incentive program or any clear vision about the future of Scotland’s creative industries outside of the UK…Consider carefully how your vote will affect the future of the Scottish industry.” The Daily Beast reports that in Hollywood, transplanted Scottish actors are making like Mel Gibson in “Braveheart” in their call for “FREEDOM.” Alan Cumming, Brian Cox, Sean Connery, Gerald Butler, and others, are campaigning for Team Yes on independence. Cox, the report states, has held private talks with Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond about a program of “creative investment” that would lead to construction of the country’s own movie studio. Whether the vote goes Aye or naw, this seemed an opportune time to revisit a few favorite Scottish films that offer much more than just beautiful scenery and the lilt of that beguiling accent about which John Oliver recently joked, “you think you can do but you can’t.” Local Hero: My favorite. To experience this understated treasure is to be besotted by it, much like the film’s main character, an “extra normal” Texas oil company dealmaker who falls under the spell of the fishing village he was dispatched to buy as a new refinery site. Also recommended is Forsyth’s coming-of-age charmer, Gregory’s Girl. Oh, and Comfort and Joy, a hard to find Christmas movie about a lonely and depressed disc jockey who gets a new lease on life when he gets involved in a war between rival ice cream purveyors. Trainspotting: The anti-“Hero.” Danny Boyle’s unflinching adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel about Scotland’s heroin subculture has built up its own cult following. “Also recommended is Boyle’s debut feature, Shallow Grave, a nifty thriller about three roommates who find their new flatmate dead and in possession of a suitcase full of money. They conspire to keep both a secret. Big mistake. The 39 Steps: This is cheating a bit, because this is a British film, but it’s one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best and it is set almost entirely in Scotland, where Robert Donat, falsely accused of murder, tries to prove his innocence and the meaning of those words in the title. Whiskey Galore: Another British film and a comedy classic set on a remote Scottish island whose residents band together to rescue 50,000 cases of whiskey from a shipwrecked vessel. The Wicker Man: Good lord, not the Nicolas Cage version, but the 1974 cult classic starring Edward Woodward as a devout policeman who comes to a remote island to investigate a young girl’s disappearance. As for movies filmed in Scotland, the list is numerous: “Braveheart”; “Casino Royale”; “Highlander”; “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”; Billy Wilder’s criminally underseen “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” and “Skyfall,” not to mention four Harry Potter films. Whichever way the vote goes, just keep the movies coming!



 

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