Top Ten Films Set in Scotland
The idea came to me last week as I exited the theater from a revival screening of the Powell and Pressburger classic, I Know Where I'm Going!. Those who know me are well familiar with my belief that The Archers can direct circles around every filmmaker you hold dear, so little wonder that I left the theater that night in love all over again. With Wendy Hiller, with P&P, and with the mystic Scotish Hebrides, a strong contender for my favorite cinematic backdrop. Hence, I decided to cull together a little list. Exactly what you were hoping for, I know.
Top 10 Films set in Scotland is what I chose to dub this. Note that I didn't say Scottish films, though nearly all qualify for that distinction as well, but I didn't feel it fair to exclude several excellent foreign flicks that so beautifully capture the spirit of the land, nor did it seem right to make room for a (terrific) Scottish film like Morvern Callar, which spends much of its time abroad, when so many others would be equally deserving. You will also notice the absence of Braveheart. If this seems an oversight, then it pales in comparison to Mel Gibson's complete disregard for Highland fashion and historical fact. And quality cinema. The eviscerations abound.
Finally, a few honorable mentions, because there's a few other classics who's absence would not go unnoticed. First, there's Andrea Arnold's modern surveillance drama Red Road, which truth be told, I didn't love as much as Fish Tank, but deserves a mention nonetheless. Next, perhaps the definitive Scottish comedy, Whiskey Galore!, which treats a community's debilitating alcoholism with precisely the lack of gravity that it should. Most drastically, I've just narrowly left off the heartwarming and hilarious Gregory's Girl, which perhaps I can only justify with another inclusion later on. I was astounded that there wasn't room for this one in my top 10, but I do think the other inclusions make up for it. Perhaps even more egregious is the lack of any adaptation of That Scottish Play, but we all know that the prize on that one goes to Throne of Blood, and feudal Japan is hardly the Scottish highlands, now is it?
And it's go, lassie, go.
10. Ratcatcher (Lynne Ramsay, 1999)
9. The Wickerman (Robin Hardy, 1973)
8. Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 1996)
7. Breaking The Waves (Lars von Trier, 1996)
6. The Edge of the World (Michael Powell, 1937)
5. The Illusionist (Sylvain Chomet, 2010)
4. The 39 Steps (Alfred Hitchcock, 1935)
3. Shallow Grave (Danny Boyle, 1994)
2. I Know Where I'm Going! (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1945)
1. Local Hero (Bill Forsyth, 1983)