It’s difficult to determine what constitutes a “Scottish movie.” Is it the director? The setting? The filming location? The cast? The content? Unlike US, Bollywood, or French cinema, which each have identifiable, categorical features, Scottish movies may be a bit more difficult to categorize. But that’s where the fun begins! With a bit of artistic discretion, here are Panrimo’s top 7 Scottish movies:
7.) One Day (2011)
Starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, One Day charts the relationship between graduates from the University of Edinburgh over the course of 20 years. Illustrating the complexities of relationships and featuring dynamic characters, One Day also gives you fantastic looks of Scotland, including gorgeous views of Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, one of Scotland’s most iconic sights.
6.) The Wicker Man (1974)
Although you may be more familiar with the more recent iteration of this story starring Nicolas Cage (and if you aren’t, you’re in for a campy, awful treat), the original Wicker Man plays down the ridiculous special effects and puts much more emphasis on the disturbing storyline, featuring strange happenings on the island of Summerisle involving the local townspeople. Although forgotten upon its release, the film has developed a significant cult following.
5.) The 39 Steps (1935)
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and his only film to be set in Scotland, this adaption of the 1915 novel features intrigue, espionage, daring escapes, and surprises at every corner. Featuring many of Hitchcock’s iconic techniques, including a cameo (of course), he actually began experimenting with story techniques as well, paving way for later film such as Psycho.
4.) Whisky Galore! (1949)
Based on the true story of the SS Politician, a wartime ship that ran aground in the outer islands of western Scotland, packed with over 50,000 cases of whisky. With a whisky shortage affecting the local citizens, they take quick care to investigate, and absolute hilarity ensues. Still as funny as when it was released, Whisky Galore! will win you over with Scottish charm and wit.
3.) Braveheart (1995)
No list of Scottish movies is complete without Braveheart. Telling the story of Scottish rebellion against the English in the 14th century, led by William Wallace, this dynamic, dramatic, and thoroughly action-packed film has spawned a massive fan-base and produced one of the most quoted lines in movie history (“They may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom.”). While often criticized for it’s lack of historical accuracy, Braveheart was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and reignited an interest in Scottish history, folklore, and mythology, deserving it’s accolades.
2.) Trainspotting (1996)
Based on the novel by Irvine Welsh and nominated for an Oscar, Trainspotting is an intense inspection of the lives of heroin addicts in Leith, a dilapidated district of Edinburgh. Starring Ewan McGregor as Mark “Rent Boy” Renton attempting to escape the cycle of addiction, this Scottish film is a must-see for those with a penchant for gritty dramas and unique, strange characters.
1.) Local Hero (1983)
One of the most beloved Scottish films, Local Hero tells the story of Houston businessman “Mac” MacIntyre, who is sent to the small Scottish coastal village of Ferness to convince to citizens to sell their land to his company. As the film progresses, it’s difficult not to fall in love with Scotland, just as Mac does, as you experience the heartfelt, humorous storyline and incredible cinematography of Scotland in Local Hero.