SCOTIA-NEWS CELEBRATES ITS FIRST ANNIVERSARY
WOW! IT HAS BEEN A YEAR ALREADY!
We here at the Scotia News find it hard to believe. But, well here we are with Vol 2 #1. That means we have actually managed to get out a year's worth of The Scotia-News. It hardly seems that long!
As we enter into our second year we are happy to see that the paper seems to be getting a good reception. We are planning to release a special "TARTAN DAY" Edition that will come out somewhere near the end of March where we will have information on upcoming events. These can also be found at the Saltire Society's New York Branch website, Saltire Society NY
We hope that we will be able to keep bringing you information about Scotland, Scottish Americans, and Scottish related things that will be of interest. Please feel free to contact us and let us know what you think!
by Duncan Petrie
Duncan Petrie's book on Scottish film is a real find for anyone interested in film - not specifically Scottish film - but film in general. The book, at the outset, raises the question of what constitutes a Scottish film and then proceeds to use that as a kind of springboard to looking at general themes and patterns which occur in films made both within and outside of Scotland. There are, to be sure, films about Scotland, films with Scottish directors and performers, yet these films in and of themselves may not necessarily be "Scottish films". Certainly Deborah Kerr's brilliant acting job in films like The Innocents, do not make us call the film a Scottish film despite Ms. Kerr's birthplace being Scotland. Nor does one think of the James Bond movies as being Scottish despite the presence of Sean Connery. At the same time there are problems trying to decide the place of films like Braveheart (a film dealing with a Scottish topic, but made by an American born, Australian raised performer, filmed largely in Ireland) in the conceptual scheme.
Although, reasonably enough, there seem to be no real answers to the question, it does spark a good deal of thought on the depiction of Scotland and whether there is a kind of "Scottish genius" at work which is recognizable in film. The book covers a variety of film genres and indicates that the depiction of Scotland from within and without may often share some important connections. Brigadoon, although not a well liked film by many Scots, who feel that its kilt wearing, bagpipe playing, penny pinching Scots are an awkward image for a country that is not just a quaint place nestled in the countryside, can be shown to fit into a pattern of the perception of Scotland as a kind of fairy land mystical place. (Not that Scots don't wear kilts on occasion or play bagpipes - the question here is whether that should be the sole image of Scotland put forth to the world at large. This is complicated by the fact that tourism is a major industry and that is the image the tourists are seeking!). Petrie does show that in some way it fits an image of Scotland which is dominated by the landscape in which mysticism can run rampant. In some films, like I Know Where I Am Going the mystical element is softened, but prevails and is used almost as a counter-point to a materialistic, urbanized industrial society.
The book is organized around some themes, some of which reflect more abstract ideas (like mysticism, or a kind of "dualism" so strongly expressed in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" or the dark and bright side of Edinburgh; the Highlands versus the Lowlands; the Scots versus the English) while others relate more to historical developments (like Bonnie Prince Charlie and the '45).
The book is an absolute must for anyone interested in Scottish films. It is scholarly, well written and thought provoking. I only hope that it will, in this country, fall into the hands of people interested in film, not just Scots and Scottish Americans. It does add a good deal to questions about "national cinema" and the contributions made by Scottish films to the U.K. and the rest of the world.
My only complaint (which is reasonably minor) is that there are a number of errors in the text which could easily be cleared up by a good "live" proof reader, since most of them appear to be the kind that slip through one's spell checker - for example, "were" for "where" (on page 35) or Cairn's Craig for Cairns Craig ( on page 33). One hopes that these kinds of corrections will be made before the book goes into a second printing or further editions. I certainly hope that Mr. Petrie will continue to add to the book in later editions as more and more Scottish films are produced.