Travel Flick Picks: Scotland

BAGPIPES! WAR PAINT! KILTS! FREEEEEEDOMMM!!!!!! This week’s theme for cinematic adventures to inspire your wanderlust: Scotland.

RT = Rotten Tomatoes | IMDb = International Movie Database

source: MPW
source: MPW

Braveheart (1995)

RT: 78%  |  IMDb: 8.4

As Gladiator topped our Flick Picks for Rome, so must Braveheart top Scotland’s.

There was a time when grand practical ambitions trumped the CGI-infested waters we know too well today. There was a time when we’d watch films like The Patriot and What Women Want and be like, “Hey, that Mel Gibson guy doesn’t seem too bat-s*** crazy.”

Those were good times.

Braveheart tells the tale of William Wallace, who unites the clans to defeat the evil tyranny of the dreaded English in the 13th century. Cue the bagpipes, because this is where it gets epic. With just a small, rag-tag team of bearded men in kilts, Wallace & Co. spark a revolution worthy of a place in history and the Academy Awards.

While Scots and historians alike will tell you the film is about as accurate as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the story is drawn from reality. There was a William Wallace who is praised as a legend in Scottish Independence; he fought in the battles of Stirling Bridge and Falkirk, was captured and hanged, drawn and quartered for high treason.

James Horner’s masterpiece score set to the backdrop of lush highlands are enough to make any wanderluster paint their face and book it up a mountain. Don’t believe me? Listen to “The Battle of Stirling” and just start running somewhere. Anywhere. See how long you go before screaming monologues at onlookers.



source: wdnewstoday
source: wdnewstoday

Brave (2012)

RT: 78%  |  IMDb: 7.2

Saying a film is one of Pixar’s more forgettable efforts is like a silver medal at the Olympics: It’s still damn impressive. Brave didn’t carry the same merchandizing value as other Disney forays, but it offered a refreshingly unique story with one of the more badass princesses to grace the screen.

When tensions amongst the clans are high and there is no William Wallace to unite them, Merida must marry against her will for diplomatic peace. That is, if she has nothing to say about it, which she totally does. And she says it with a bow and arrow. CUE THE BAGPIPES, because it all hits the fan when Merida must fight a ‘roided out witch-bear whilst simultaneously turning her mom into a friendly mom-bear and… okay, so it got a little weird, and a lot of people got turned into bears.

The beautiful, digitally-rendered shots of Scotland, mixed with Patrick Doyle’s Celtic-infused compositions, deliver a unique, yet hauntingly gorgeous depiction of Scotland. It might not have made us weep like Inside Out, but it certainly deserved its golden statue.




Trainspotting (1996)

RT: 89%  |  IMDb: 8.2

Before Ewan McGregor was Anakin’s babysitter and before Danny Boyle made it big with 28 Days Later and Slumdog Millionaire, the actor/director dream team created the cult classic, Trainspotting.

This one’s an anomaly on the list as it’s not about freedom, battles nor pride. It’s about heroin. The focus is on Renton (McGregor), who, along with an entourage of addict buddies, tries to piece together a semblance of an existence free from the shackles of addiction. It’s a dark, gritty and honest look at life in the shadows. As such, the film has earned its wide regard as one of the best British films of all time.



source: indiewire
source: indiewire

Macbeth (2015)

RT: 80%  |  IMDb: 7.0

Michael Fassbender can do no wrong. This is a fact according to my opinion. So when I’m given an adaptation of “the Scottish play” featuring Fassbender and the impeccable angel that is Marion Cotillard, you best believe I will be all over that goodness. And until Cotillard, Fassbender and director Justin Kurzel reunite for the Assassin’s Creed adaptation (yesssss), their interpretation of classic Shakespeare will hold us over in the meantime.

In case you Sparknotes’d the whole thing in high school, the story goes something like this: Three witches appear to a Scottish general, Macbeth, with a prophecy that he will become King of Scotland. This idea consumes his mind, and Lady Macbeth (Cotillard) further enables this obsession for power. DEATH. BLOOD. DEATH. MONOLOGUE. ANGST. MORE SCOTTISH MEN IN WAR PAINT. DEATH. INSANITY. DEATH. BLOOD. Regret.

And death.

Losing your mind never looked this good.

I won’t give away any more intricate details, but that’s basically it. However, Kurzel’s vision is spectacular, offering a fresh take on a tale that has been told time and time again. The cinematography is gorgeous, Scotland looks as fantastic as ever, and Marion Cotillard is… there. She’s there, and that’s all that matters.

Cue the bagpipes.



Head to Scotland on London and Scotland Escape!