Whatever the outcome and repercussions of the independence referendum, filmmakers have long (mis-)represented Scotland in films. While this could be said to be little different from any other nation or ethnic group, images of Scotland are obviously of especial importance and interest to the Edinburgh Film Guild. With this season we present a provocative selection of films, drawing upon insider and outsider perspectives, and both critical and uncritical of such discourses as Tartanry, Kailyard and Clydesideism.
James W. Horne | USA | 1935 | 77 minutes
Laurel and Hardy head for Scotland and, after unwittingly enlisting in a Scottish regiment, are posted to Raj-era India. The Lancashire-born Laurel began his career at Glasgow’s Metropole theatre, which his father managed at the time.
Edge of the World + Return to the Edge of the World
Michael Powell | UK | 1937 | 81 minutes
Michael Powell’s documentary-style drama, inspired by real events, presents the lead up to the evacuation of an isolated Scottish island. The film’s theme, of the conflict between those who wish to stay in their home and those who wish to leave for presumed better opportunities elsewhere (thus reducing the opportunities at home still further) continues to resonate.
John Laurie, Finlay Currie and Niall MacGinnis co-star. Powell described his experiences making the film in a book, 200,000 feet on Foula.
Powell and others from his cast and crew revisited the Shetland Island some 40 years later for the retrospective documentary Return to the Edge of the World, which will also be shown.
The Gorbals Story
David MacKane | UK | 1950 | 74 minutes
A screen adaptation of Robert MacLeish’s play, first performed at the Glasgow Unity Theatre four years earlier, in which successful artist Johnnie recalls, via flashbacks, his early life in a Glasgow slum.
Vincente Minnelli | USA | 1954 | 108 minutes
Regardless of what you think of its kitsch images of the titular ghost village that only appears once every hundred years, on this occasion to a couple of US tourists, there is no getting away from the importance of Brigadoon in both its stage and film versions, for better or worse.
Tunes of Glory
Ronald Neame | UK | 1960 | 107 minutes
London-born cinematographer turned director Ronald Neame made important contributions to Scottish cinema with his adaptations of James Kennaway’s novel and Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Alec Guinness and John Mills star as the contrasting, conflicting (and conflicted) military men vying for control of a Scottish regiment in the aftermath of WWII. Guinness is the boy soldier who has come up through the ranks, Mills the privileged son of a former commander of the regiment. Guinness’s Jock is, as his name connotes, Scottish, Mills’ Basil Barrow very English.
Up the MacGregors!
Frank Garfield / Franco Giraldi | Italy | 1967 | 104 minutes
Also known as Seven Brides for the MacGregors this Italian western oddity, the second of the three MacGregors films, offers two ethnic stereotypes for the price of one, as the seven Scottish MacGregor brothers court the seven Irish Donovan sisters; the majority of each family being played, of course, by Spanish and Italian actors.