Top 10 films shot and set in Scotland (we excluded Braveheart)

Posted on: 23/09/2014


Scotland’s decision not to leave was like almost being dumped by a girlfriend you’d been taking for granted. Scotland, we will never take you for granted again. To prove it here are the top ten films shot and set in Scotland.

10. Skyfall

Bond has been a British institution since Ian Fleming dipped his quill into his ink in 1953 to write Casino Royale. Acclaimed British director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to perdition) brought the latest instalment of the 007 franchise to life. Skyfall was the simplest Bond story as it was in essence straight-forward revenge thriller.

It was great to see the Scottish landscape play such a pivotal role as we revisit Bond’s childhood home in the heart of the vibrant, Scottish landscape. The bleak and beautiful backdrop to the finale represented the simplicity of the story. Bond may not have liked living there, but we thought it looked lovely.

9. Whisky Galore

Like bond, whisky galore was also adapted from a book by Compton McKenzie. The famous Ealing studios produced the film in 1949 and it remains one of the finest of the Ealing comedies to date. Set on a remote Scottish island, the local community pull together to try to recover 50,000 cases of whisky from a sinking ship, under the nose of the pompous Captain Waggott… But not on the Sabbath, they’re not animals after all!

8. Under the skin

Jonathan Glazer, who directed pulsating Brit gangster film Sexy Beast, tried his hand at sci-fi/ horror here. A mysterious woman played by Scarlett Johansson seduces lonely men, leading to a mysterious journey of self-discovery.

7. Shell

The suitably named Scott Graham’s independent drama tells the story of a girl and her father’s struggle to survive the elements in a Scottish highlands petrol station. The poignant film shows their complex relationship and reveals the difficulty of living such a remote existence.

6. Ratcatcher

Director Lynne Ramsay (We need to talk about Kevin) brings us back in time to the summer of 1973. Set in Glasgow, it starts with a young boy drowning whilst play fighting and the film shows the harrowing effect this has on the community. The stark greys of industrial Glasgow added to the bleakness of this film.

5. Breaking the waves

Lars von Trier’s film tells the story of a woman with psychological problems and her relationship with her husband. Set in the Scottish Highlands during the 1970’s this film is the first in Trier’s Golden Heart Trilogy.

4. Madeleine

David Lean’s 1950 classic is about a young woman resisting her family’s attempts at pressuring her into marrying a wealthy man. This is set in the late 1800’s and her complex love-life (she was in love with a French man) really was ahead of its time.

3. Red Road

Red Road is set in Glasgow and is about a CCTV operator observing the city in private. The plot turns when she notices a man from her past who she thought she’d never see again. Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank) directed and this was the first in ‘Advance party’, which was meant to be a trilogy. The concept and rules came from Lars von Trier. All were to have different directors but with a shared cast. Unfortunately the third film remains is production limbo.

2. The 39 steps

A classic by the master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock. Loosely based on Andrew Buchan’s 1915 book, this is a classic adventure story. A man tries to help an agent who’s investigating a political assassination, but before he can the agent is killed and he is framed for his murder. Unable to turn to the Police he flees to Scotland as he tries to unravel the truth.

1. Trainspotting

Based on the hilarious and compelling book by Irvine Walsh, Danny Boyle directed what quickly became one of the biggest British films of all time. The film follows four heroin addicted friends and the story charts their life on the fringes of society.

This became a cult-classic and who could forget Renton climbing head first into a toilet to retrieve his suppositories.

Interestingly it was set in Edinburgh, but largely filmed in Glasgow. Perhaps Glasgow was cheaper.

One more- courtesy of Curzon Cinemas who tweeted us I know where I’m going

Michael Powell/ Emeric Pressburger’s 1945 romantic comedy tells the story of a young Englishwoman who travels to the Hebrides to marry a wealthy industrialist. The night before her wedding the weather traps her on a neighbouring island. The film takes a turn as she is slowly enchanted by this island and by a young naval officer who also happens to be a Lord. We’ll be sure to check out this film and it sounds like the original and possibly one of the best romantic- comedies.

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