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How far has the Scottish and international film industry made a significant contribution to the development of Scottish Identity in the last part of the twentieth century?

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Introduction

How far has the Scottish and international film industry made a significant contribution to the development of Scottish Identity in the last part of the twentieth century? When people hear the word 'Scotland' there is, as said by C McArthur (2003:59)'Diverse images and narratives right down to particular words and phrases that immediately come into their head'. These images may it be of tartan, misty landscapes, bagpipes or castles contribute to how Scotland is portrayed and create what is known as a Scottish identity. There is a continuing debate on whether Scottish identity actually exists or is it as argued by H T Roper 1 'an Eighteenth Century invention'. By looking at films that have represented Scotland since the early 1930's and throughout the last part of the Twentieth century, the contribution the film industry has made to Scottish Identity can be examined. The question of whether Scottish Identity is a myth or reality has continued to be the subject of great debate. Womack's2 view is that we all know Scotland is known for romantic glens, kilted clansmen, a beautiful language and Bonny Prince Charlie but we also know it is not real. D McCrone (1995:56) however argues that 'for something which is not real this image of Scotland is persistent and endemic' Scotland is known predominately around the world for these images that appear in books, films and even on shortbread tins and it seems impossible to escape. ...read more.

Middle

The film was to be shown at the World Fair in New York but it was deemed that the film full of working class faces was not appropriate to represent Britain by the British Council's Film Committee. To D Bruce (1996:127) it was 'an attempt to let the camera find out who we are' and a remarkable documentary of its times with superb images. Whisky Galore (1949) described by J Brown3 as 'the most popular film screened in the islands by a very large margin' is the story of the locals on a Scottish island who attempt to conceal a ship loaded with whisky that was wrecked on the island from customs and excise. In Richards view Whisky Galore is significant in creating a persistent image of Scotland and should not be underestimated. He also suggests that people warmed to the stories and related to them (1997:191/2). Brigadoon (1954) was a Hollywood production that according to C McArthur (2003:6) embodied what he calls the 'Scottish Discursive Unconscious - the core of which are images and stories about Scotland as a Highland landscape of lochs and castles' he argues that these images internationally signify Scottishness. The film about a mythical highland village that appears once every one hundred years, with a lost American falling in love with a local Scottish lass. To F Hardy it was 'the archetypical film of bogus Scotland'. ...read more.

Conclusion

A very different picture of Scotland was painted in 1996, when the adaptation of Irvine Welsh's novel 'Trainspotting' came to the screen. Gone were the images of kilted clansmen and highland landscapes these were replaced by that of a new 'hero' 'Rent Boy' a heroin addict. The story surrounds the life of Rent Boy and his drug using friends living in Leith, Edinburgh and was described as 'shockingly contemporary' (Bruce 1996:3). Despite these images the film was a box office success in the UK. It is clear from the remarks that these films have provoked that the Scottish and International film industry has made a significant contribution to the development of Scottish Identity. Hollywood is however particularly influential in portraying an image of Scotland to the world. Films like Braveheart and Trainspotting because of their popularity will continue to be associated with Scotland and Scottish identity but they are not necessarily an accurate reflection of Scottish life and or history. How Scotland and the Scots are portrayed on screen will continue to cause debate. Whether this image is of myth or reality, it is argued that 'Scots as a whole loved films like Whisky Galore, Why? Because the image is attractive and appealing' J Brown4 .It is also stated that people evidently preferred myth to reality, they were not forced to go to the cinema. They went because they loved the films because the Scottish actors symbolised the nation. ...read more.

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